Reef Report for Thursday, August 16, 2001
Tales of Taka II Diving
Yes folks. It has been rough out there this week. Lumpy, choppy, bumpy. No matter which way you looked at it, the seas were NOT calm. But did the divers have fun still? You better believe it!
I was fortunate enough last weekend to get a couple of days off work and join the crew and guests onboard TAKA II for a diving experience of a lifetime.
On Friday afternoon we boarded the good ship and headed north overnight. Our first dive was in the morning on Ribbon Reef #10. The site was called Challenger Bay and was my first introduction to the amazing visibility that the Ribbon Reefs have to offer. There was at least 30 meters and the site was alive with the fish early morning feeding. We also came across an enormous Hawksbill Turtle just sitting on a small pinnacle of coral, totally oblivious to our inquisitive stares. The second dive was at Pixie Pinnacle. Another great dive, with plenty of fish life and coral.
Between the second and third dive we steamed to the famous Cod Hole. The cod are very friendly, especially since they have been fed regularly for the past 20 years. Only dive masters are allowed to feed the cod. The feed is extremely controlled and the food portions and type is also closely monitored to ensure the health of the cod is maintained.
It is amazing to be kneeling on the sandy bottom and to watch these giant creatures swimming so close. They are totally unperturbed by the divers. The highlight of the feed was the unexpected visit of a turtle. In the middle of the feed, when the cod were most active, the turtle appeared. It cruised into the middle of the feed, then realized what was going on, then made a quick 90 degree turn and got the hell out of there as fast as its flippers could move it. The poor thing must have had an awful fright!
That night we steamed out to Osprey Reef. When the sun rises, it feels like you are miles from anywhere, yet Osprey reef is actually only 120 nautical miles east of the Great Barrier Reef, out in the Coral Sea. It is an amazing reef, rising several thousand feet from ocean floor. Due to this isolation, Osprey Reef has constantly clear water. By that I mean you can see forever and ever!
Along with the incredible visibility, the perfect coral gardens, wall drop offs and massive Gorgonians, it is for the sharks that divers come to Osprey. The dive site is North Horn, right at the northern tip of the reef. The instant you hit the water an overwhelming sense of size and vulnerability overcomes you. As soon as you look down, there they are; white tip reef sharks, bronze whalers, grey whalers, even an Oceanic Silver Tip. I was in awe of this site. I wanted to stay down there forever to watch and be thrilled by the grace and activities of the sharks.
The second dive at North Horn was the shark feed. As this site the reef forms a natural amphitheatre, making it easy to be safe yet stay close to the shark feed action. Tuna heads were on the menu on this dive, and the sharks were mad for it. The feed lasted for 20 minutes, after which we had free diving time. It was during this time that a hammerhead cruised in to have a look. I had my head down looking at some coral and totally missed it!
The rest of the trip was spent diving the Ribbon Reefs and Opal Reef. I could write pages of what we saw on this trip, but all the words of wonder would take up the all the bandwidth on this website. From sharks to nudibranchs, giant (I mean HUGE!) clams to miniscule baby clown fish, this trip had everything.
A huge thanks to the crew of TAKA and to Mother Nature for being just wonderful. The weather people predict the winds to stay blowing southeasterly at 20 knots over the weekend, a little breezy and fresh. So if you are going diving, dress warmly.
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.
Index of all reef reports.