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Reef Report for Saturday, June 23, 2001

Try Diving off of Townsville

Last weekend, my dive buddy Andrew and I set off to Townsville, where we went head to head with the miserable weather to blow bubbles for three days. We both boarded Pro Dive Townsville's Pacific Adventurer, ready to brave the infamous Yongala wreck. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises We were horrified to hear that the winds were

picking up, which could only mean one thing . . . no wreck diving because the wreck sits way off the reef and is subject to wind swells.

Instead, our first stop was Wheeler Reef. It wasn't long before the two of us were geared up and rubbing shoulders with the fish. Blessed with 20 metres visibility, we stumbled upon an octopus who had taken up residence in a small coral bommie just off to the right of the boat. After watching the eight-legged creature camouflage itself several times, we moved on to spot three white tip reef sharks circling the pinnacle of a bommie in the hope of sampling something tasty. Luckily we weren't on the menu! So off we went again, running into a green turtle lazily grazing on some algae.

The next morning, we rose at the crack of dawn - a little reluctant to leave our warm cabins - and dove back into the crystal clear waters. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises We visited our new friend the octopus, then set off to familiarize ourselves with the reef to the left of our dive boat. Our eyes nearly popped out of our heads when we sighted two small devil rays ahead of us. They had glided straight past us when we spotted a 1 metre Reef Whaler Shark between two bommies in the distance. As we swam toward the bommies to take a closer look at the shark,

the two devil rays stole back our attention by circling us once more. What a morning!

Armed with torches and cyalume sticks, we took to the water yet again - this time at night. We scoured every nook and cranny and spied a tiny Moray Eel, no bigger than my index finger. We then came across an Epaulette Shark and possibly the largest Sting Ray I have ever seen! We were following a coral

wall when Andrew darted a nervous look in my direction - something had jolted him in the rib cage from inside the wall. Ian Thorpe (the famous Gold Medal-winning Aussie swimmer) couldn't have beaten us back to the boat!

On Sunday we reluctantly bid farewell to the reef and headed back to Townsville with a million stories to tell. Back in Cairns, the weather people are predicting southeasterly winds up to 20 knots, increasing to

25-30 knots by the weekend.

(C) Pro Dive Cairns The weekly reef report is written by Sue-Anne Chapman of Pro Dive Cairns, who compiles them from the many conversations she 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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