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Reef Report for Wednesday, August 29, 2001

A Tale of Two Lucky Maori Wrasse

It has been another glorious week of sunshine and calm seas. The weather people predict similar conditions over the weekend. South to southeast winds 10 to 15 knots should keep the haze moving despite the temperature dropping over night.

Several days this week there were glass-out conditions. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises This means the water takes on a mirror-like quality. TUSA Dive has had a number of interesting encounters this week, including spotting a baby humpback whale fin-slapping and spy-hopping at Briggs Reef. The calf was later joined by six spinner dolphins playing and frolicking. What a show! On Milln Reef two hawksbill turtles were seen mating on the surface of the water and at Thetford Reef a pair of green turtles were closely investigated by snorkelers.

Also at Thetford Reef passengers on board had an amazing humpback encounter, one rarely ever seen, a mother with two milking calves! One calf was newly born and the other a yearling born the season before. Humpbacks are the most active and acrobatic of the whales and all three whales spent 20 minutes around the moored TUSA boat.

At all reefs all week visibility averaged between 20 and 30 metres.

On special note Amanda from TUSA briefed me on the following. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises On August 28th TUSA Dive re-released two giant hump-headed Maori wrasse back into the ocean. These two huge fish were captured for live export to Asia, and were not deemed suitable for export (too bad more fish donít fail the test) TUSA was offered the job to take these amazing creatures back to the reef by a local fish exporter.

The 2 giant fish (one weighing approx 25 kilos and the other 30+ kilos) were carried back to the reef aboard MV TUSA IV in large salt-water tubs. After being released the two fish sat under the boat for a few minutes before swimming off to discover their new reef home.

The common name the Maori Wrasse comes from the colourful markings around their eyes and face, which some folks think resemble the traditional facial tattoos of the New Zealand Maori people. The species are one of the most popular amongst visitors on the reef as they often approach humans due to their curiosity. These two giants will no doubt be enjoyed by many visitors in the future to the Great Barrier Reef.

Passions of Paradise guests had visibility at its best this week. It was easy for divers to enjoy a vast array of colourful reef fish. Certified divers saw lots of parrotfish and tiny bird wrasse in about 8 m of water; they were also privileged to see a black tip reef shark, lying on the sandy bottom in 14m. Our introductory divers were tailed through the reef by a friendly Napoleon Maori Wrasse. Was it the Wrasse that TUSA freed?

(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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