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Reef Report for Friday, February 28, 2003

Coral Diversity Abounds on the Reef

I must admit when I first started to dive I spent more time focusing on the fish and other reef life rather than on the hundreds of different species of corals found here. It is well documented that the Great Barrier Reef is made up of approximately 2900 separate reefs stretching from the tip of Cape York South to Bundaberg. © Pro Dive Cairns With approximately 400 different species of hard and soft corals the coral diversity here is unrivaled. I recently

Speaking from first hand experience I consider the quality of the coral you will see on reefs for example out from Cairns such as Flynn, Milln, Thetford, Saxon and Hastings is very good. Not forgetting a good array of coral formations at Agincourt if traveling out from Port Douglas. It is also well documented about our reefs being damaged by global warming is connected with increased coral bleaching events, which can occur in water temperatures above 30 degrees.

Some of the different types of hard corals you will see are, boulder, brain, staghorn, plate corals as well as many different types of soft coral. With so many species closely resembling each other I will leave the absolute identification to the taxonomists, and stick to the general names above!


During the week local Cairns resident Tracey Dotchin completed her advanced diving course on Scubapro II. © Pro Dive Cairns Tracey really enjoyed the course and told me on their dives they saw a Wobblegong Shark on a night dive, loads of turtles and a cool black and white Nudibranch. Weather conditions over the weekend just gone were quite good, with the winds picking up on Monday. Also during the week some Nautilus Club divers visited the Coral Gardens on Saxon Reef. They reported seeing lion fish on every patch of reef. Amongst the very pretty damselfish and angelfish they also spotted a Banded Pipefish and a White-mouthed Moray Eel. A second dive was made at Jorgenson Patch, a dive site not often visited due to the strong currents in the area. Everyone was really pleased to see so much brilliant dark blue soft coral. In addition, barracuda, reef sharks, groupers and turtles were also seen in the deep gullies.

Reef Magic visited both Milln Reef and Moore Reef during the week. Both reef sites have beautiful corals, abundant fish life and excellent visibility. The Northerly winds were blowing enough to keep it cool and the trip out and back was calm. One of the highlights of the day on Moore Reef was a visit from four very friendly Hump headed Maori Wrasse.

Port Douglas

Divers on Calypso were very lucky to observe squid laying eggs beneath some plate corals on a bommie out at the Agincourt Reefs. Also noticed by the crew was rapid growth of new corals and regeneration of the reef particularly in areas that have experienced coral bleaching and crown of thorns starfish damage –nature at its best replenishing the reefs.

Northern Reefs/Coral Sea

Reporting on the far northern reefs conditions were very good with the winds around 10-15 knots and visibility on the ribbons was 20-25 metres and up to 40 metres at Osprey Reef. Guests on board TAKA II were entertained by visiting manta rays at the Cod Hole and up to eight potato cod. A pod of up to 50 Dolphins surfed the bow wave when leaving the Cod Hole, which is always a thrill to see. Other sightings were moray eels, crayfish, lionfish and plenty of turtles. Osprey Reef didn’t disappoint again with plenty of grey whalers, black and white-tipped reef sharks and a couple of silver tipped sharks.

Unfortunately I have to report that for this Saturday the winds will possibly be 20 knots with a wind direction of N/NW, making for not the most pleasant conditions to be out on the reef. It is predicted however for this to change late Saturday for more SE winds but still around 20 knots. So Sunday is looking to be the better of the days to go diving so get out there and start exploring all the different corals of the reef. 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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