Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Clown FishThe Great Barrier Reef lies in the Coral Sea 15-160 km (10-100 mi) off the eastern coast of Queensland, Australia. Often called the longest coral reef in the world, it is actually a series of coral islands, reefs, and shoals that extend north to south-east for over 2,000 km (1,250 mi). The coral formations are based on the outer, eastern edge of the continental shelf, once part of the Queensland coast. They largely consist of the calcified remains of coral polyp built up in strange and beautiful formations over millions of years; there are more than 350 species of coral. Between the Main Reef and the mainland lies the Lagoon, a shallow body of water dotted with hundreds of islands, some of them coral cays, others summits of a drowned coastal mountain range. Vividly coloured fish, shells, and giant clams, all clearly visible in the crystalline waters, are great tourist attractions. Capt. James Cook discovered the reef on June 11, 1770, when his ship, the Endeavour, ran aground on the reef that now bears the ship’s name.

Bibliography: Reader’s Digest Book of the Great Barrier Reef (1985).

Corals

The time was 8.30 pm the 1st of December and I was getting ready to make my way down to the Quarterdeck Bar and the Breakwater Marina where the vessel ‘Divemaster’ was moored, I was told to be there around 9pm so I could help with out with the loading the vessel so we could leave the harbour around 11pm.

The plan was to travel to Wheeler Reef on Friday night, which would take about four hours. When we wake up early Saturday morning we commence our diving and we stayed in that spot all day.

Me and another Swedish guy called Johan we dove together all weekend and we started going to the back of the boat where we could find some depth. The viz at Wheeler and the particular divespot called “B2” was just perfect! 30-40meters easily! Just perfect, add to this 26C degrees in the water! Nice! We saw a school of Barracudas and three VERY curious fish where on of them swam up to me and just stopped and looked straight into my mask. The fish was only like 4-5cm from my mask and the fish was about 30-35cm long. It followed us for quite a while. It came up from behind and dashed my on my head with their bodies, this felt just like a fin kick or something… ..Crazy Fish!! == We believe that the fish was eating the bubbles to extract oxygen but we weren’t sure…

Our second dive we saw heaps of Sea-Cucumbers, Pufferfish, Capricornfish and other cool fish. During our third dive we encountered two grey reef sharks ( Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos ) that is closely related to the famous White Pointer, we also saw an octopus, a baler-shell or reasonable size (30cm) and some nudibranches ( Chelydonjura spp. Inornata spp. )

During our nightdive me and Johan was greeted by a shark in the first minute of the dive, after this we encountered sharks frequently during the rest of the dive, mostly Greys after a some time during the dive we encountered two sharks circling this coral bommie, we sat down on the bottom at 24meters or so and just followed the Grey Reef Sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos ) for 10min. Just LOVELY animals! They were really curious and they came as close as 0.5 meter from where we were sitting.

During the night we moved to Keeper Reef that differed a lot from Wheeler Reef with lot less animals. During our first dive during the Sunday we saw some Crown-of-Thorns and also a Green Sea Turtle swimming past us as we were looking at some corals.

The following two dives was made with Nitrox/Enriched Air as we did a Enriched Air course during the trip and it didn’t feel any different diving with Nitrox or normal air… We also move to a different divespot on Keeper Reef called “The Forbidden City”. Me and Johan dove astray so when we surfaced we were FAR away from the vessel… it took us about 20minutes to paddle though they were lazy not to come and get us with the Zodiac. After the long swim we had an hour and ten minutes surface interval before we jumped in again for our seventh and last dive for the weekend. Both me and Johan was very tired of diving at that point so we kept us around the boat and we had some underwater jogging in the sand which was pretty fun, as you feel like you are on the moon as you are doing it… 🙂

The trip home was an experience!!! The 20-25knot winds was terrible and we had 4-5meter high waves all the way home and this of cause made my seasickness prone stomach a bit upset… 🙂

It was not too bad…. I slept through the first hour but when I as woken up I got sick directly and the remaining 2.5-3hours I was sitting outside to follow the boat… going up… going down…. rolling left… rolling right… you feel VERY little compared to the enormous power from the ocean.

Hope you too will experience the truly ‘great’ Great Barrier Reef one day, and I think it deserves its qualification as on of the seven wonders of the world!

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