Undersea Explorer

Undersea Explorer

Well, I have really have had the Gods on my side this last couple of years. Not only got into the MAST program in Canada, play with the most venomous snakes in the world through a snake handling course with QPWS, volunteer work at a Crocodile Farm and took care of about 600 estuarine crocodiles also known as saltwater crocodiles which is the largest crocodile species in the world. But I also scored a host position on Undersea Explorers Adventure Dive Expeditions!

I will be going on this between the July 28 until August 3. The trip is going out to Osprey Reef and will be conducting shark and nautilus research as with all Osprey trips throughout the year with U.E.
The Dwarf Minke Whales may still be around at this time and U.E. have had sightings and interactions quite often in late July – but it is not the focus of the trip and there is much less time devoted to make this happen. SO… chances are there but definitely not a guarantee. The common sharks of Osprey Reef are whitetip reef sharks, grey and silvertip whalers and hammerheads (mostly scalloped but occasional great hammers).

And Very Few Pirates!!!!

I will fill you guys in with HEAPS of pictures, videoclips and other cool stuff from this when stuff gets going!

Here is the itinerary for the week (Copy from Debbie Maynard, Undersea Explorer)

Coral Sea – Osprey Reef & Cod Hole
6 days diving – 20 to 22 dives maximum

Evening Departure dive. At approximately 2200hrs we depart for Osprey Reef.

Boarding from 1700hrs onwards at Princes Wharf (private) in Port Douglas. After boarding there is an opportunity for your last meal ashore and then at approximately 2000hrs the Skipper’s Safety Brief and Marine Biologist’s introduction will be conducted. We then steam overnight to Harrier Reef. The diving begins!

Day 1 – 2 Dives

We settled into the diving routine along the fabulous Ribbon Reefs. We travelled north to Pixie Garden and Challenger Bay where I did one dive at each site.

Days 2 – 2 Dives

We head north up the Ribbon Reefs to enjoy dive sites selected by the experienced crew, renowned for their variety of plate, branching and massive corals, giant clams and fish life – also to be enjoyed during a night dive.

We visited beautiful Pixies Pinnacle (which was stunning!) were I encountered trumpet fish, nudibranches and a flame-file shell that is REALLY rare and hard to spot. Continuing to a neighbouring reef to the World Famous Cod Hole called “No name”, almost there we spotted for Minke Whales which we had the opportunity and luxury to go in a snorkel with! These 8-10m whales were at the closest about two meters away from me!! This was SO AWESOME!! I am out of words for expressing how it was! We stayed with the whales for about an hour just snorkling, sun-baking and some more snorkling. I guess you might understand this was a great experience and I took heaps of photos which I hope will turn out fine so I can post them here for your enjoyment.

After 25 UV-photos and 36 normal photos from the top of the boat we enjoyed almost as stunning lunch, by our chef Rossco (Ross). Not soon after we arrived at No Name and some people went for a dive while I stayed on the boat and relaxed. My plan was to do the afternoon and night dive at the World Famous Cod Hole to experience the resident family of Potato Cod , Big Moray Eels, Giant Napoleon Wrasse , Coral Trout and Red Bass.

The Cod Hole is World Famous for its group of potato cods that are so ‘tame’ so they come up to the divers in the belief they will be fed and come so close that you can pet them. It is however NOT recommended to pet them though their mucus layer on their scales rubs of and parasitic bacteria, viruses or other animals will attack these weak spots and the cods will die. The dive here was also REALLY Awesome!! I feel like I have been saying this so many times now and that I will be saying it so many times later on this page in lack of other describing words.

Days 3 – 3 Dives

After a long night rocking and rolling from the vessel making its way out to Osprey Reef, it was time to get wet again. At the remote Osprey Reef we have 2 days of Coral Sea diving – 30 metre plus visibility and 1500 metre vertical walls . North Horn has the most reliable shark population in Australia: Grey Whalers, White Tip Reefies, Silvertip Whalers, seasonal Hammerheads, Schools of Barracuda, Dog Tooth Tuna and Cod.

This first dive at Osprey was at Admiralty Anchor. Here a cave or swim-through existed from about 16m to exiting at about 3m. Hold your horses, I did take pictures with my new UW-camera and heaps of them! I just hope sincerely that the film will develop nicely.

Our second dive for the day way at North Horn, were I and Rossco did a deep dive, 47,7meters but it was really short though we ran out of air. While sitting on a ledge at 45 or so meters I started counting the sharks and lost count at about 20 (!!!) there were White Tip Reef Sharks and Grey Reef Whalers. This was just awesome, having sharks all around me. I did snap away fairly happily (due to nitrogen-narcoses??) so I guess I just need to wait and see how they develop. We also bumped into a huge potato cod and a moray eel.

After an hour or so Ross Dean and I went out with the rubber dingy to collect the data-loggers for the White Tip Reef Sharks. The first one was on the eastern side and after just minutes of looking for it Ross found it and just when I looked on the side and there it was (!!!) a GREAT HAMMERHEAD SHARK!! It was about 2 meters long and just cruising along alone at a depth of about 4-5meters.

My Third and last dive for the day was also out at North Horn, this dive was made almost half the depth, (26,3m) were I saw heaps of sharks again (White tippies and Grey Whalers) and other cool critters like, potato cod, lion-fish and so on.

Day 4 – 2 dives

We dove spectacular reef gardens and our marine biologist introduced us to more of U.E’s study sites. Instead of venturing to Lizard Island, our skipper decided to stay at Osprey Reef for an extra day and we where not very disappointed at him for that decision. I was quickly in the water again and this time I dove at a site called Castles (Osprey Reef) here I got some cool Nautilus shots (hope they too turn out well).

My second dive was again at North Horn. This dive was called ” THE SHARK ATTRACT DIVE ” where the whole boat went down to grab a seat to view the sharks being attracted by some bait. We sat at about 15m and watched the sharks gather around us attracted by the bait in front of us, locked up in two crates. After watching this for some time the passengers where escorted back up on board while we in the crew stayed down to witness the feeding frenzy when we opened the crates open so the sharks, cods and all other fish could access the bait. The few seconds it lasted one could feel the adrenaline in the water from the sharks and the big fish.

Day 5 – 3 Dives

During the night our skipper had brought us back to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and Marine Park. The first dive for the day was at Andy’s Postcard. It was a bit more particles in the water, however the dive was good with many small critters around to have a look at.

Next stop for the day was at Steve’s Bommie, where I saw Lamberts seacucumber, flatworm and many other small animals.

I found an olive green sea turtle on the night dive. The dive was conducted at Unknown Site (many sites within the GBR haven’t received any names yet). I also found a sea urchin, cuttlefish and some other cool stuff.

Day 6 – 1 Dive

For the final day of our dive adventure was catered by the coral gardens of the Agincourt Reef area. I saw a blue spotted stingray another ray and also the so famous Elvis fish. We then had approximately 4 hours of steaming to Port Douglas – time to contemplate the experiences we have had above and under the water of the Great Barrier Reef.

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