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Reef Report for Friday, April 11, 2003

Having a Whale of a Time

Last week I wrote about a rare sighting of a pod of False Killer Whales off Port Douglas. One of the great things about being out on the reef at this time of year is the possibility of whale sightings. © Taka Dive Several species of whales visit the Great Barrier Reef, with humpback and minke whales being the most common species sighted during the period from May to August. It is well documented the whales migrate to the cooler tropical waters to mate and give birth to their young.

You will generally see during this period Minke Whales and Humpbacks breaching while traveling to and from the reef and it is not uncommon to see the Minke Whales swimming around the boats at the reef itself. Minke whales can reach a length up to 11 metres with the humpback whales growing to 15 metres. Over the next few articles I will be covering more on these magnificent mammals so stay tuned.

There is an excellent opportunity for divers and snorkelers to have close encounters with these whales, which are known to closely approach and accompany folks in the water. Undersea Explorer runs a series of 6-day Minke Whale trips during June and early July, when whale populations are at their peak. Check out this link for further details.

Port Douglas

Cathi from Calypso took time out for a dive and reported all onboard had a magnificent day out on the reef. With light winds and plenty of sunshine the sites visited for the day were Turtle Bay on Tongue Reef and Opal Reef which produced sightings of lots of turtles, rays, a few reef sharks and literally thousands of fish in large schools, not to mention some great corals.


Passions of Paradise passengers also enjoyed spectacular weather conditions at Paradise Reef. Introductory divers saw a pair of spotted unicorn fish and a school of red bass snapper, while the certified divers saw lots of damsels as well as a Chinese footballer trout. Upolu Cay did not let snorkellers down with plenty of bright blue sea stars and sea cucumbers on show.

17 members of the Nautilus Scuba Club recently spent their monthly dive trip out with Tusa Dive. Diving Jorgensen’s Patch and Saxon Reef, and small fish were abundant. Several divers had an encounter with a dozen or so bumphead parrot fish, white tip reef sharks, spanish mackerel and a pair of very strange looking brown horned bannerfish.

Local residents Chrisje & Steve Foster spent time out on Scubapro II, with Steve completing his open water dive course while Chrisje already a certified diver enjoyed a few dives and plenty of relaxation. Diving at Flynn and Milln Reefs for 3 days there were white-tipped reef sharks, turtles, sting rays, clown fish, and box fish, just to name a few. Steve and Chrisje wrote it was “just amazing”. The Coral Gardens at Flynn Reef blew the couple away as well with the beautiful coral formations, lots of finger coral, very colourful schools of fish and canyons to swim through.

Two of the reef sites visited by Reef Magic Cruises this week were Moore Reef and Michaelmas Cay. One of the highlights at Michaelmas Cay was seeing thousands of nesting birds in this famous bird sanctuary. The clam gardens also provide a great days snorkeling and diving for everyone. At Moore Reef "Wally" the giant Maori Wrasse and two of his mates arrived to have their backs scratched while the certified divers did a drift dive down the wall and saw turtles and white tipped reef sharks.

Northern Reefs/Coral Sea

TAKA II guests also had plenty to see at the far northern reefs reporting the water temperature at 29 degrees and very calm seas with 5-10 knots. Visibility was experienced around 25-30m along the Ribbon Reefs and up to 45m out at Osprey Reef. The shark feed at Osprey had a big guest list, with 30-40 sharks showing up dressed for lunch. There was an array of White Tips, Grey Whalers and even a couple of the larger Silver-Tipped reef sharks. Up to 30 plus Spinner Dolphins surfing the wave off the bow on the way to the Cod Hole provided a great site for all onboard. This week-end is again shaping up to be good weather to be on the water with winds not expected to go over 15 knots but more in the late afternoons with plenty of sunshine.

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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