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Reef Report for Friday, February 21, 2003

Osprey Reef Adventures

It’s really good to be back home after spending two very hectic weeks traveling through North America. The focus of the trip was promoting our great region and diving on the Great Barrier Reef. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises One thing is for sure we have it over them with our dive sites and climate allowing us to dive all year round.

Picking up from my last article diving in the far northern reefs diving Osprey Reef is a ‘must do’. Osprey reef is located in the Coral Sea and is approximately 170 nautical miles north of Cairns.

When out with Undersea Explorer recently we spent 3 days diving at sites such as Raging Horn, North Horn and Admiralty. The real interesting thing about diving these sites is the combination visibility depth, the walls off these dive sites have 1000-metre drop offs. Equally unforgettable were the 30 to 40 Reef Sharks around at most of the dives. They was a mixture of greys, white tips and the odd silver tip. Other large fish we spotted very large dog-tooth tuna, potato cod and schools of barracudas The maximum depth we could dive was 40 metres and looking out into the big blue water certainly had an eerier feeling about it not knowing what may come by. © Undersea Explorer The coral walls were full of marine life and very coral extremely colourful. We were not so lucky to see any Hammer Head Sharks or Manta rays come by but I did manage to real close to some.

Also of great interest on this trip was watching Shark specialist Richard Fitzpatrick from Digital Dimenions conducting shark research. Richard was able attach a time/depth recorder to one White Tip Reef Shark, which records the depth the shark goes to, as well as water temperate and movements of the shark.

I was also able to take part in ongoing research with the chambered nautilus. The nautilus is a major predator in deep sea realms, mainly of crustaceans. It has a full external shell with many buoyancy chambers and uses the typical cephalopod jet propulsion technique. The ocean floor at Osprey Reef is over 1000 metres deep, with nautilus populations inhabiting the depths and migrating to shallower 200 metre depths during the night. This enabled us to send down traps to capture and study these amazing animals. This is part of a long term Undersea Explorer program conducted on all their expeditions

On my trip I had the pleasure of assisting crew in pulling up the traps early in the morning. The traps were set to 300 metres. I can assure you pulling up 50 crab pots are still a lot easier.

I hope my stories about diving the Ribbon Reefs, Osprey Reef and Agincourt has got your adrenaline pumping and you are now planning your next liveaboard dive adventure. You can find a complete index of all dive trips visiting this region at DiveTheReef’s Reef Trip Index. Next week I will be back covering off dive stories from my regular local dive operators and I will also be starting covering different segments on the many different species of corals you will see diving and snorkeling at the reef.

On all reports the weather should be relatively fine this weekend with possible scattered showers on the reef and winds up to 15 knots. So clear your weekend 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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