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Wondering what reef conditions are like at a certain time of year? Look at previous Reef Reports to get an idea.
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Reef Report for Friday, January 31, 2003

Ribbon Reefs Make for Fine Dive Adventures

Following on form previous reports of my dive trip with Undersea Explorer, I thought we might look at some of the ribbon reefs and the more interesting marine life spotted.

Challenger Bay located at Ribbon reef No10 is a favourite for many vessels. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises Whilst at Challenger Bay I spotted a colony of Garden Eels (50 or more) in 20m of water for the first time. I have heard and read about these eels but have never been lucky enough to see them. I am told they can be used to assist a diver in working out current directions as the garden eels face into the current to eat. I thought this was a very impressive dive site with plenty of colourful coral species accompanied by many anemone fish. Our regular characters such as Reef Sharks, Barracuda, Trevelle and Trigger fish are often sighted. On a recent dive trip to Challenger Bay with TAKA II divers sighted Manta rays.

Another dive site that TAKA II and Undersea regularly visit along the Ribbon reefs is Pixie’s Pinnacle. Both companies complete day and night dives at this site, which I highly recommend as a ‘must do’ dive sight. Recently TAKA II passengers were overwhelmed with the fan corals and marine life. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises This dive site is an isolated cylindrical shaped coral formation approximately 15m in diameter and 30m deep. Slowly working your way up and around the pinnacle from about 20m there is so much to see. I personally rate this dive sight as my best night dive. I sighted a Red Flame File Shell (see image) numerous nudibranch, lionfish and big-nosed unicornfish.

Not far from Pixie’s Pinnacle is Eagle Rock on the ribbon reef No 10. This was another great night dive. Sightings ranged from a large Reef Crab, both a Leopard and an Epaulette Shark, a Hawksbill turtle to a very small Cleaning Shrimp.

In my next article I will be covering diving at Osprey reef, together with details of the shark and nautilus research undertaken by Undersea Explorer. This research forms part of Undersea’s regular dive trips, making for some very interesting dives.

This week around Cairns and Port Douglas winds has been a steady 15 knots. This has meant on some days good surface conditions on a number of reef sites. The water temperature is still a warm 27 degrees.

Cairns:

On Passions of Paradise certified divers this week were treated to the spectacular sight of a school of hump-headed parrot fish, all 1 meter and beyond in size. Introductory divers saw a Green Turtle, as well as the friendly resident Maori Wrasse. Many parrotfish and bright schools of damsels and yellow tailed fusiliers were also sighted. Snorkelers did not miss out and enjoyed swimming over beautiful sea gardens of giant clams together with an abundance of marine life. Visibility at Paradise Reef was around 15 meters with comfortable surface conditions.

Two of the sites visited during the week by Reef Magic Cruises were Michaelmas Cay and Hastings Reef. With blue sky and good weather conditions a sighting of a Bull-nosed Ray made for a great dive at Michaelmas. At Hastings the conditions were considered almost perfect. ‘Wally’ the Maori Wrasse and his girlfriend ‘Willamina’ visited and played with guests and everyone was lucky enough to see a school of juvenile squid swimming around.

Port Douglas

Divers and snorkellers on Poseidon departing have had another excellent week out, despite unseasonal south-easters and some big tides. There were a number of green and hawksbill turtles sighted, as well as cuttlefish, blue-spotted sting rays and grey reef sharks. Also sighted was an unusual congregation of 5 flowery cod at one site, presumably a mating get-together as these fish are usually solitary. The resident Estuary Cod ‘Daisy’ was pleased to see everyone again, and the amazing Frog fish was seen in its usual spot.

The weather for the weekend should be good with low to moderate winds around no more than 15knots. There could be a change to this weather forecast due to Cyclone Benni currently situated near Fiji. Stay posted to local weather reports over the weekend but if you can, get out on the reef and as always safe diving. Steve Brady

(C) Pro Dive Cairns This weekly reef report was written by Steve Brady of Pro Dive Cairns, who compiles them from the dive trips he takes, as well as the many conversations he has with divers, dive instructors, captains, and others in the Cairns dive community. The report is published weekly in the Cairn Post, the local daily paper and appears here thanks to the courtesy of Pro Dive Cairns.

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