Reef Report for Friday, November 22, 2002
Wind Bothers Divers, But Not the Fish.
The weather certainly has not been at its best with windy conditions averaging 20knots reducing the visibility at most sites. Don’t fret though; the weather pattern suggests that the coming week should be much calmer with a return to the hot and sultry days and some excellent diving conditions
The local Nautilus Dive Club visited Norman Reef this week, and had a fabulous dive at "Plate Top".
The members wrote this has got to be one of the best dive sites out of Cairns. They saw a very large Barramundi Cod in a cave, with a large red Lionfish close by. They reported seeing sweetlip in the gullies on plate top, with literally hundreds of them in large schools. Moorish idols, unicorn fish and two large silver tip sharks were also seen. The usual large schools of basslets and anthias hovering close by the coral bommies were also part of the interesting sightings for the day.
During the week Paddy from Reef Teach went diving with Deep Sea Divers den on the Sea Quest and also visited Norman Reefs "Tabletop" and "Turtle Cove" dive sites. Large chevron and yellowtail barracuda were shoaling, along with a massive school of black and white sea perch, were spotted. By far the best spotting for the day was a False Stonefish. This species, Scorpaenopsis diabolus, is known as the Devil Scorpion Fish. Stonefish are really hard to spot because they are the masters of camouflage and blend in completely with their surrounding. Mostly you only spot them when they move. They have been reported to stay motionless for hours.
As most people will be aware by now ‘Coral Spawning’ is predicted to go off this coming weekend. Paddy also reported that you could see the egg clumps in the coral polyps, visible as little white balls inside them. This is a clear sign that spawning is imminent.
There was an interesting sighting off Fitzroy Island recently by a group of local Cairns residents completing their dive course with Pro Dive when a Shovelnose Ray was spotted on one of the training dives. These fish are much more common on sand flats on the Great Barrier Reef and similar habitats and close inshore in estuaries. These flat ray-like fish cover themselves with sand during the daytime and will allow close approach. They feed primarily on shellfish and have blunt crushing teeth. The scientists have yet to study these animals thoroughly, and there are likely several species in the area, some yet to scientifically named and described.
Despite the gusty winds this week passengers on board Calyspo still enjoyed diving and snorkeling at Tongue and Opal Reefs.
Divers have had good dives with reasonable visibility with everyone enjoying a variety of reef fish and sightings of moray eels, stingrays, turtles and reef sharks. Passengers were also treated to pods of dolphins traveling to and from the reef.
Coral Sea/Northern Reefs
Passengers on board TAKA II also withstood the windy conditions and still managed a fun trip with some excellent dives. Visibility was around 30metres at Osprey Reef, and between 15-20metres along the Ribbon Reefs. The Cod hole had a pod of 200 Dolphins frolicking and playing along the boats bow wake. At North Horn there was a great shark feed, with a 3m Hammerhead, grey whalers, white and black tips all coming in for a free meal.
Don’t forget if you have the time this weekend try and spend a night out on the reef to hopefully witness the coral spawning. Have a great weekend and as always safe diving,
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.
Index of all reef reports.