Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
Trip End Dec 29, 2008

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Pro Dive Liveaborad

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Monday, May 12, 2008

The main reason for coming to Queensland was to fulfil our long held ambition to dive the GBR.  We head back to Cairns, stay one more night at Lilybank and head off to join a live aboard for 3 days diving.  It is an early start as we are picked up at 5.40 am and taken to the dive shop to sort out our gear and then to the boat for breakfast and to meet the other passengers.

The boat takes 32 passengers and I would guess that 30 of them were under the age of 25!  The majority of passengers were on PADI Open water courses and so for the first couple of days were learning to dive, leaving the 8 certified divers to dive on our own which was quite nice.  This was however, the first time we had dived without a guide which was a bit scary when you start thinking that one wrong turn underwater and the next stop  is the coast of  South America!!

The trip out to the outer GBR was a bit rough as we were sailing against the waves and once out into the open ocean a few people were getting seasick which was hardly surprising as everybody was getting thrown about the boat.  Around 3 hours later we arrive at the first dive site.

As always it is necessary to make your first dive the deepest dive of the day (in case of decompression sickness), so we head down to 25 meters and see a turtle on our first dive. We also see lots of other fish, sea cucumbers, and stingrays (very tasty!).  After the deep part of the dive we gradually make our way into the shallower part of the reef and as we rise from the depths, where all colours are a variation of blue/green, the additional sunlight at 5 metres enable us to see the amazing colours and variety of the coral and lots more fish of all shapes and sizes.
Between dives on a live-aboard there is not much to do apart from sort out your gear, shower, eat and get ready for the next dive. And with 3-4 dives per day this really does take up most of the time.

The following dive over the next few days on different dive sites were, if anything, more impressive  as we see more and more and bigger fish including Giant Napoleon Wrasse, Potato Cod (some of which were 1 metre + in length) as well as Clown fish (aka Nemo), lots of turtles and the odd reef shark.

One of the most spectacular sightings of fish came not on a dive but just prior to a night dive, when the boat floodlights were switched on and one of the instructors tossed chopped up fish into the water.  The water seemed to be boiling as the big fish came to the surface to eat the goodies.  These were quickly followed by the sharks (some 2-3 metres long) that came not only to eat the fish being thrown in but also some of the other fish that had come for the feast! We saw one big shark swoop up from the deep and swallow 3 big fish and then disappear back into the depths!  The crowd whooped but it seemed lost on most that they would be diving in the same water in a few minutes!!

We really enjoyed the time on the reef apart from constantly getting lost under water.  I have no sense of direction on land and although, I can read a compass reasonably well, we still got lost on our first few dives until Carolyn, who, unusually for a woman, has a great sense of direction, took over the navigation, relying not on the compass, but on instinct/intuition!
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