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Reef Report for Friday, June 27, 2003

Minke Whales Abound on the Reef

Recently I traveled out with Quicksilver Connections to their pontoon located at Agincourt reef out from Port Douglas with my son, Anthony. Anthony has been showing great interest in my diving stories of late and he certainly is starting to snorkel very well. © Great Barrer Reef Enterprises I felt it was time to introduce him to what I consider to be the greatest natural wonder of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. This was not his first time to the reef but certainly the most impressionable. In my opinion the great thing about being on a pontoon with children is it allows them the room to move around and be entertained by other great activities such as going for a ride on the Semi-submarine and spending time in the underwater observatory. We spent most of our day in the water snorkeling busily pointing out to each other all the fish and giant clams we were seeing. A great aid for young children and less experienced swimmers were the float lines positioned over the reef. They proved a great aid in assisting Anthony snorkeling around the reef and allowed him to easily have a rest to catch his breath from all the excitement. We saw a number of parrotfish, a green turtle, anthias, coral trout, various species of anemone fish, butterfly fish, damselfish, puffer fish, and a Maori wrasse. I recommend if the kids are showing interest invest in buying them their own set of fins, a mask and snorkel, and even a wetsuit if you can. You can purchase affordable, quality gear from a number of dive stores in Cairns and Port Douglas. As a parent, watching their confidence grow and snorkeling skills improve very quickly in being in the water is well worth the investment. See you out there on the school holidays.

I have mentioned a few times now that this is time of the year you will see minke whales in our waters. Sightings of these magnificent animals have been quite frequent of late; so donít delay in going out for a dive. Most of the sightings are from dive boats visiting the far northern reefs such as the Ribbon Reefs and the Coral Sea, though minke whales have been spotted at Flynn and Millne Reefs off Cairns. Recently guests onboard TAKA II at Lighthouse Bommie along the Ribbon reefs saw a family of 8 or 9 minke whales. Everyone got into the water and had spectacular close-up interaction with the beautiful creatures. The whales were in a playful mood and according to guests the whales seemed upset when the vessel pulled away - an hour and a half later! Also at the Cod Hole this week the feed saw the usual red bass and flowery cods come in with sighting of a huge green and leatherback turtles and resident sharks as well.


Delphine and Dave gave great reports on their trip out to Millne Reef with Kangaroo Explorer. They described snorkeling conditions as perfect, with visibility in excess of 20 meters. They saw a great cross section of the reef life, including bump-headed parrotfish. clownfish, unicorn fish, and both white and black-tipped reef sharks. After awhile they said that there was so much life, it would be easier to list the few animals they did not see!

Northern Reefs/Coral Sea

On board Diversity this week, chef Susi was the first to spot a dwarf minke whale gracefully approaching the vessel, then while diving, located a cuttlefish adding eggs to their nest. Another special moment had on Diversity was by Kareena the youngest guest on board at 12 years old, spotted her first white tip reef shark. Also other sightings of minke whales were reported at Blowhole Bommie. . With sightings from 6 tonne dwarf minke whales to nudibranchs and mantis shrimps weighing just a few grams guests could not have had it better.

Also earlier in the week divers on board Undersea Explorer had many sightings of minke whales. Encounters were described as simply extraordinary and the Ďbest everí with up to fifteen whales, many of which were spy hopping and bubble blasting next to the boat. Not content to be out done a 3-metre hammerhead joined the action to take a look at those lucky enough to be in the water enjoying the show.

With the school holidays now upon us and with the weather conditions expected to be excellent for this weekend, get out there and spend a day out on 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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