The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Days 458 – 459, February 28-29, 2012

After another night where I paid for my bed at the hostel but stayed overnight at Scott’s place (the guy I met at the bar the other night), I was awake early again and waiting at the hostel for the shuttle to the Deep Sea Diver’s Den main office. With the snorkelling trip out of the way, I was now headed for a two-day, one-night liveaboard dive trip to the outer Great Barrier Reef.

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Much like the snorkelling trip the day before, a small group of us were picked up at the hostel bright and early. Though, this time, we were taken over to the main office where we signed in and paid the remaining portion of our fee (just over AUS$520). Once everyone was set up and masks were fitted correctly, we were driven down to the pier and once again boarded the SeaQuest, the same craft as the day before.

Seeing as it was a diving trip, and you never dive alone, I scanned the seating area inside during the trip to the reef to see if there was any other single people that were also diving. Lucky for me, there was. A super cute gentleman from the Netherlands named Joep.

Our first dive was at a site called Sandra’s. I can’t fully say if it was at the Norman Reef or the Saxon Reef as both reefs have dive sites called Sandra’s (and to be honest I wasn’t paying attention to that part). We went as part of a group of six with a Dive Master. I got my first glimpse of a reef shark on this one, swam through a school of barracuda, and saw plenty of other creatures.

Joep underwaterIMG_4137

Reef SharkIMG_4144

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Sea CucumberIMG_4165

Moray EelIMG_4180

The second dive, after lunch, was within view of the OceanQuest, the much larger vessel that is permanently out at sea as it is the one set up with cabins for those spending overnight out in the reef. Before we switched vessels though, we were able to do our second dive.

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The second site, Reef Magic, is once again either on Saxon or Norman Reef. Both Reefs have sites named Reef Magic, which certainly doesn’t help figure out exactly where I was. I sadly didn’t save any GPS coordinates, which in hindsight would’ve been a wise thing to do. Oh well.

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After we climbed aboard, the boat crept up to the larger vessel and those doing an overnight or more stay climbed across. Food and luggage followed, and then those leaving the ship crossed over to the boat to be taken back to Cairns.

We all quickly settled in, got our keys to our rooms (Joep and me ended up in the same two person dorm), and had some quick snacks and drinks. That is one thing that amazes me about diving. It’s the most relaxing and peaceful activity, yet you come back starving.

The third dive of the day, at Coral Gardens dive site, I opted to leave my camera behind, as I did for dive four of the day, also at Coral Gardens. While awesome, the camera is still pretty bulky and I wanted to do at least one dive without having to worry about it the whole time.

The fourth dive was also my very first night dive. I had no more hands left to give for the camera as each person also had a flashlight to carry. The night dive was absolutely spectacular. The beginning portion was a little blah, though disorienting. It was the same dive site, but everything looked massively different. Different fish were swimming about, most either dark, or deep red. The deep red colour actually helps camouflage those fish as red is absorbed so quickly within the water light.

During the dive, as our flashlights swung in front of us, we all had fish following along behind. The fish had long ago learned that the lights attracted little fish and the bigger fish behind us would then dart in front to snag them for dinner.

But by far the most amazing part of the night dive, hell the entire dive trip, was during the safety stop. At the end of the dive, to help with dissolving the nitrogen that builds up in your body, divers have to take a 3 minute stop at around 5 meters. For this dive, we used the mooring line of the boat to keep us steady. Being night-time the boat had its floodlights on to help the divers get back. These lights attracted those little fish, which attract the larger fish . . . .

. . . which attract the sharks. The entire safety dive we were circled by dozens upon dozens of reef sharks. It was one of the most breathtaking things I had ever experienced, being so close (no more than 10 feet at times) to these carnivorous creatures.

The next day, both Joep and I decided to sleep in and skip the early morning dive. Neither of us were even considering getting up for that one, even though we paid for it. Diving takes a ton out of you. We did manage to wake up in time for breakfast though and joined a few others on the second dive of the day, our fifth of the trip.

Our roomIMG_4219

This time we were at a dive site called Troppos on the Norman Reef. The OceanQuest had moored at the site and people were taking off in all different directions. Our group went off towards the rear of the boat, following the reef wall to the ocean floor.

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Christmas Tree WormsIMG_4248

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Safety StopIMG_4271

After another little break, Joep and I decided we were ready to try a dive all on our own, with no guide or Dive Master. It was exciting, nerve-wracking, and scary, all at the same time. This would also be the final dive of the trip.

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Here we go!DSCN2347

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You could actually hear a constant grinding noise, the sounds of the Parrot Fish eating coralIMG_4311

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Peace out surface dwellers!

1 comment:

  1. Great photos, it´s always interesting to see what kind of species you can find underwater, especially on places like this. The best scuba diving tours of cancun also allow to see many exotic animals.

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