Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard Cruises

Far Northern Reefs Update

A dedicated reconnaissance vessel, exploring the Far Northern sector of the Great Barrier Reef has returned to Cairns, having found spectacular healthy reefs. 

The Far Northern sector of the Great Barrier Reef is classified as the region from Lizard Island to the tip of the Cape York peninsular,  250 to 1000 km to the north of Cairns.  Earlier this year, the northern sector was reported as having been the most severely affected by the recent coral bleaching event, based around aerial and in water surveys of coastal reefs. Owing to weather constraints during these surveys, the remote continental shelf reefs systems of this same sector had little survey work completed.  As a result of the poor information available relative to the health of these remote reef systems, it was vital for two Cairns based remote area live aboard dive operators to complete their own reconnaissance expedition.

In a jointly sponsored operation by Spirit of Freedom and Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, a team of experienced divers completed underwater explorations of 28 sites on 24 reefs.  These outer shelf reefs covered a length of 300km, within the Far Northern sector, finishing 600km to the north of Cairns.
 
Nick Leigh from Spirit of Freedom has conducted over 12 expeditions to this region in the last 6 years and reports, “We have snorkelled and dived our known locations and many new sites, and everywhere we have been we have found healthy reefs.  While there is evidence of the effect of coral bleaching, we estimate that the mortality rate on the outer shelf reefs in this area is from 1 to 5%.  Some sites are worse than others obviously, but overall it is a massive relief to see the coral coverage looking as spectacular as in previous years.  The quality of diving up here is superb.”
 
Similarly Craig Stephen and Peter Conlon from Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, both familiar with this far northern section, attested that they were greatly relieved with the findings. Mike Ball’s Operations Manager Craig, drew comparisons from 27 recorded dive site descriptions dating between 1994 and 1996 stating that “similar findings were made relative to fish life, coral cover and the diving was just as fresh and exciting as it was 20 years ago”.
 
Spirit of Freedom and Mike Ball Dive Expeditions conduct scuba diving expeditions for experienced divers to the Far Northern region in the Spring and early Summer, on an annual basis.



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