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Reef Report for Friday, March 28, 2003

Marine Mammals Make an Appearance on the Reef

The diving conditions last weekend were near perfect with SE winds between 5 - 10 knots and on most reports 20m visibility. That produced some great sightings and thankfully I was lucky enough to be out and make some of them myself this last weekend onboard Poseidon Cruises. © Scott Eagleton The company has been operating day trips to the reef out of Port Douglas for over 20 years. all this experience in the industry was evident in the great dive sites and first class service by the crew onboard. Dale and I completed 3 dives, at The Plates, North Bay and Trigger Fish City. All dive sites had excellent coral formations and colour. The first dive site the Plates, as the name suggests was an abundance of healthy plate coral, as well as many other different species amongst the coral gardens.

Within seconds of diving in the water a 3m Grey Whaler shark came cruising by. There was plenty of marine life to entertain us on our dives and our sightings included a variety of small to large size Clams, lionfish, an Epaulette Shark, juvenile razor wrasse, flutefish and quite a few sea stars. We completed a drift dive at Trigger Fish dive site. If you have never done a drift dive it is just magical, cruising along the coral wall with the current over the coral in about 6m of water. I cannot comment enough on the quality of the coral at Poseidon’s dive sites for that day. Lunch supplied was an array of cold meats, salads and those succulent fresh prawns. All in all we all had a great day out on the reef.

Port Douglas:

Also out of Port Douglas this week passengers onboard Wavedancer, Quicksilver’s sailing catamaran, were treated to a very rare sighting of a pod of 40-50 false killer whales. Previous sightings of this species of whales have been well offshore but in this instance they were just 5km off the coast. The false killer whale are an oceanic species of toothed whales and have a rounded snout, medium-sized hooked fin set mid back with a distinctly bent flipper. They can grow up to 5.5m and are usually all black and often in large groups. Not considered timid and rather inquisitive they swam alongside the bow of the boat lifting their heads and much of their body out of the water, breaching and offering a delightful surprise for passengers.

Coral Sea/Northern Reefs:

Crystal from Diving Cairns was lucky enough to sneak a trip to Osprey and the Ribbon Reefs onboard Diversity recently. The trip departs from Port Douglas every Friday evening where divers can enjoy 3 ½ days of absolutely fabulous diving. The beauty of this trip is that because of the speed of the vessel (18 knots) they are very flexible with their trip itinerary; this is quite handy when the unpredictable North Queensland weather turns bad. They are able to find the best dive sites available according to the weather conditions. The first half of the trip was spent at Osprey Reef. Rapid Horn dive site offers great drift diving conditions and plenty of pelagic fish life such as giant dog toothed tuna, schools of large trevally and sharks of all kinds can be seen cruising out of the deep blue waters.

Another site on Osprey is North Horn, where Diversity does a shark feed. Divers sit and watch no more than 5 metres away from giant tuna heads being lowered into the water. In an instant, 40+ white tips, black tips and grey whalers and the odd potato cod are fighting for their dinner. A hungry 3 metre silver tip was also spotted feeding! For the second half of the trip, Crystal & her buddy Scott did numerous dives on Lighthouse Bommie and Steve’s Bommie – both on the Ribbon Reefs. They saw sea snakes, lionfish, ghost pipefish, turtles, moray eels, plenty of reef sharks, nudibranchs; every dive had something new.

Divers onboard TAKA II were kept busy while diving the Ribbon reefs and Osprey reef with sightings of potato cod, large manta rays, grey whaler and hammerhead sharks, a huge Sperm Whale, lots of spinner dolphins and a Pacific Octopus. Not a bad few days diving.


Reports from Reef Magic Cruises this week had certified divers had their dreams fulfilled on their drift dive as they came across two large Manta Rays. Conditions were perfect as well with incredible fish life and pristine Coral Gardens.

Passions of Paradise passengers were treated to a special show at Paradise Reef as a small pod of dolphins were seen playing along side the boat. Introductory divers saw a large school of hump- headed buffalo fish feeding on the coral as well as some sergeant majors, batfish and a large Coral Cod.

The weather predictions this week point to another week of great conditions. By Sunday the winds are predicted to down to 10 knots and hold to the middle of the following week. 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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