4 Day Coral Sea Trip
Thursday the 3rd of May some cool cats flew into Lizard Island where they would join Spirit Of Freedom and her crew for a 4-day expedition to the Coral Sea. After all the formalities and a short steam to the Ribbon Reefs it was time to go diving!
Our first dive was at Pixie Gardens which is a nice reef wall forming into a gradual sandy bottom, which makes for a great first dive for the divers to get familiar with our equipment and procedures while also being a good opportunity for those who haven’t been in the water for a while to shake of the rust. The next dive of the afternoon was at Challenger Bay, which sits in between Ribbon #9 and #10, this is also where we would be doing a night dive. Our divers got to witness all walks of life from schooling Sweetlips and Fusiliers to Garden eels and a Hawkes Bill Turtle. Once night had fallen there was a huge transition of life with many smaller reef fish disappearing while the pelagic species came in search of some food. Challenger Bay is one of the most spectacular night diving spots on the Great Barrier with Giant Trevally and Red Bass hunting in the torch lights, Moray Eels swimming from rock to rock while reef sharks follow along waiting for their chance for a quick easy snack. Once everyone was back on board it was time to ‘batten down the hatches’ for our over night crossing to Osprey Reef.
We awoke to a beautiful sunrise at Osprey Reef, although a little windy it was still going to be great day of diving on this magical reef. First up was False Entrance, this site never ceases to impress with coral covered ridges sloping down to the steep wall that is Osprey with large fans spanning out from the depths. Next up was Spirit Plateau and as the name suggest a large plateau sticks out off the wall of Osprey collecting all walks of life. We then moved on to Castles, the topography is what it’s all about from tall structures to hidden pathways and swim throughs making an entertaining dive with the divers putting their navigational skills to the test. Our final dive of the day was at Admiralty, here is is a bit of a maze with crevasses carved out by old larva flow many moon ago when Osprey was an active volcano whilst also an large old school admiralty anchor lies at the bottom of a swim through. After a very eventful day and with our bellies full we settled in for a trivia night as we spent the veening on our overnight mooring to get an early nights rest so we could be fresh and raring to for our last day at Osprey.
In the morning we moved up to the North Horn of the reef where we would sit for the first three dives of the day. Dive one and two were drift dives, the first was along Marlin Wall and the second was down Soft Coral Wall. The first is on the weathered side which always has several sharks cruising along it and also schools of tuna swimming by and Soft Coral Wall is more protected so the more fragile corals have a better chance at growing there for smaller species inhabit this side of the reef. Our third dive was the notorious Shark Attraction dive. In a naturally formed auditorium the divers site tight on the rocks as a cage of tuna heads is lowered into the water where over 30 sharks circle in anticipation waiting for their chance of an easy snack. One brave crew member swims up to the cage and cuts a release cord, as the tuna heads float up out of the cage all hell breaks loose and the ripping and the tearing can be heard as the sharks ruthlessly dismantle the tuna. Once all the mayhem settles down and not one piece of tuna is left the divers swim over to the feeding area and search of a shark tooth to take home as an souvenir. This is always a highlight of the trip for customers and crew, a great way to get the blood pumping. Our final dive at Osprey was at The Gap, here we are close to the entrance of the lagoon but what makes this a good dive is off the deep wall of Osprey a small platform sticks out off the wall and catches the current so there is large congregations on fish life from big schools of Barracuda and a family of Napoleon Wrasse to Rainbow Runners and some Tuna. Another great day out at Osprey but it was time to make our way back to the Ribbon Reefs where we would finish off our final day of our four day expedition.
We awoke on Sunday morning at Clam Gardens, here we find several Giant Clam one meter long and weighing over 500kg! as well as an array of fish species whilst team advance finished off their course with a navigation dive with Niek. Next up was Steve’s Bommie on Ribbon Reef #3. Here we would be doing two dives on this spectacular pinnacle. As it is situated off the Ribbons we get large congregations of life with schooling jacks and mackerel while many colourful Anthias and Bassalets dance in and out of the coral covered pinnacle, Steve’s is truly a wonder of the GBR. Our fifteenth and final dive our the expedition was at the bottom of Ribbon #3, Flair Point, a beautiful bay with gradual slopes scattered with small bommies, many smaller fish species find refuge in these little habitats while Gardens Eels fill up the sandy areas in between.
After the dive of the trip it was time for a big family feast, Australian BBQ styles. All the crew and customers swapped stories and shared some drinks as we made our way back to Cairns. The last four days have just been amazing with amazing people from all over the world doing some amazing diving, it has been a blast and we’ll see you next time, Happy Days!