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Reef Report for Friday, March 14, 2003

Can a Perfect Day Diving Make a Perfect Week?

It’s amazing how a window of excellent conditions can appear amid poorer dive weather, because March 5th was absolutely excellent! Several groups reported excellent dives that day!


Paddy Colwell from ‘Reef Teach’ recently escorted a group of 14 snorkellers to the reef. They witnessed a female White Tip Reef Shark lying on the sand which was approached by an interested male. Apparently she didn’t respond favorably to his advances and he didn’t even get a quick ‘love bite’ in before she took off. Maybe her shyness had something to do with having 15 anxious on lookers hovering over them. Traveling with Sea Quest, the group moved to another dive site where another White Tip Reef Shark lay in a cave with a restricted opening about 3 meters from the surface. One by one Paddy escorted everyone down to view the shark close up, swallowing water through its mouth and irrigating its gills. Paddy also reported the corals were looking better than they did this time last year at the height of the El Ni~no. There was none of the partial bleaching he saw during February 2002, so most of those corals have recovered. Also spotted on the group’s day out were turtles, nudibranchs, coral and fish changing colours.

Also this week certified divers onboard Passions of Paradise reported seeing a couple of longfin batfish in 8 m of water, they also spotted lots of spangled emperor and even a cute pair of Pyjama Cardinal fish. © Pro Dive Cairns Their instructor, Pat, was lucky enough to find a bright yellow nudibranch under a ledge. Snorkelers enjoyed their day seeing a giant clam garden and as they went a little past Paradise Reef they were pleased to see bright blue staghorn coral. Visibility at Paradise Reef has been around 10 meters with a little bit of surface chop.

Port Douglas:

The Nautilus Scuba Club was the guest of Calypso out of Port Douglas on last Sunday. The best dive of the day was Agincourt No. 4 Reef. Reporting gusty wind conditions on the surface they had a good 20 metres visibility with some wonderful soft and hard corals on show. The president of the Nautilus Club, Michael Phillips, advised me he was able to get very close to a sleepy White Tip Shark and yes, they have pale blue eyes. Maybe next time Michael can report the eye colour of a Hammerhead Shark! Speaking of Hammerheads, newly certified divers diving with Scubapro were left speechless when a 3-metre Hammerhead Shark came cruising by at Tracey’s bommie on Flynn reef.

Coral Sea and Northern Reefs:

Guests and crew have been having a pretty busy week on Undersea Explorer. Some great shark diving was had at Osprey Reef with shark expert Richard Fitzpatrick onboard this week. Three white tip sharks were tagged with time and depth loggers to track movements in 3 dimensions off North Horn. The tags have now been recovered for analysis of data. Also on board was Dr Anya Salih of the University of Sydney conducting research into fluorescent corals' resistance to bleaching and temperature stress. Hopefully I will be able to report some of the findings of Dr. Salih’s work in next week’s article. Also diving at Osprey Reef this week was TAKA II, where a Manta Ray was seen at Challenger Bay on a night dive. Plenty of turtles and cuttlefish were seen at Steve’s Bommie and the Beer Gardens. Steve’s Bommie also produced some other great sightings such as porcelain crab, shrimp, flame file shells and lionfish galore. A number of large cod and reef sharks came in for the feed, which always makes for a great dive.

It is difficult to say what the weather patterns will be doing for this weekend as it is dependent on the movements of Cyclone Craig. On all reports we can expect the winds easing to 15 knots with some scattered showers on the reef over the weekend, which will still make for some great diving and snorkeling conditions. 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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