13.10.2015 - 13.10.2015
The Great Barrier Reef is on of the largest living structures on the planet – so big that is visible from space. The image below shows the waves at the edge of the reef.
Stretching 2,300km offshore off the Queensland coast, from south of Bundaberg to Cape York, it is similar in size to Victoria and Tasmania combined and almost one and a half times the size of the United Kingdom.
The world’s largest coral reef ecosystem is more than coral.
In addition to over 2,900 separate and varied coral reefs, the Great Barrier Reef includes inshore muddy shallows, seagrass meadows and mangroves.
There are over 900 island, including coral cays and continental island.
The amazing diversity and rarity of many species are among the reason for it’s World Heritage status.
The Great Barrier Reef is an iconic destination and is a diver’s dream.
The warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef, with temperatures ranging from 22-29 Celsius (75-85 Fahrenheit), makes for comfortable scuba diving all year round.
The Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem supports the greatest concentration of life on this planet including 1,500 species of fish, 400 different kinds of corals, 4000 species of molluscs and 10,000 species of sponges.
Heading out from Port Douglas, I had been advised to go with a company called Quick Silver, on one of their trips using their Catamaran Siler Sonic.
Silversonic visits a selection of 22 stunning & exclusive reef sites at Agincourt Reef at the very outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef. they have two Aluminium boats which look pretty space like, this is Quick Silver VII
Heading out form Port Douglas Marina,
it was clear to see what makes this area so beautiful - the only place on earth where the rainforest meets the reef.
It was 'stinger time' where marine stingers fill the oceans around the coast in this area, so stinger suits are worn under wet suits to avoid potential lethal stings... it's not my best look!
Is at the very outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef.
Here, special reefs known as 'ribbons' run parallel to the Continental Shelf. Adjacent to the Coral Sea trench, these ribbon reefs are recognised as the most pristine eco-systems in the reef's environment.
Clear water provides the best possible underwater visibility, encourages rich coral growth and supports spectacular marine life.
We stopped at three dive sites throughout the day:
DEPTH: Maximum 25 metres
VISIBILITY: 15-30 metres, Average 20m
Located on the very South Western point of Agincourt Reef #4 this is a transition zone between two very different reef environments.
Here divers enter the water in a protected lagoon environment with colourful coral gardens before making their way around the point to drift along a deep water wall bordering the channel that exists between Agincourt reef #4 and Agincourt reef #3.
Visibility here is generally good to great.
This is a great big fish dive with schools of Red Bass, Big eye Trevally and Silver Drummer.
A school of Barracuda is often seen a little further around the Point
as one makes their way along the wall. Both Grey and White Tip Reef Sharks can be seen further along the wall.
Throughout the dive large schools of Unicorn fish, Anthias and Fusiliers are encountered. Sandy patches host several large Sea Cucumber species with the GBR’s largest species, the Pineapple Sea Cucumber one of the most common.
For the non diver the sheltered lagoon area is a favorite snorkeling area where non divers can get up close and personal with large Sweetlips, like this Spotted Sweetlips
Maori Wrasse and Giant clams.
Almost every species of Parrot fish found on the GBR can be seen in this area.
The coral gardens here and on the adjacent reef flat are diverse and colourful.
Other fish I saw included Butterfly Fish
Five Banded Damsel Fish - Sergeant Major
Lots of Stripeys
and many, many others I can't name!
DEPTH: Maximum Depth 22 metres
VISIBILITY: 12 - 30 metres, average 20m
A deep water pinnacle situated close to the mid point of the sheltered side of this small ribbon reef is one of our most popular sites.
Visibility is almost always fantastic since you are literally visiting the very edge of the GBR, next stop Fiji!
For the divers the pinnacle holds not only the obvious school of Barracuda
but also Dog Tooth Tuna
and some fair size Grey reef Sharks. The pinnacle is a macro Photographers delight for shots
like this Christmas Tree Worm.
Here a huge diversity of some the reefs most colourful animals, the Nudibranch, are to be found by those with a keen eye. Feather starfish almost carpet the Pinnacles top.
Look closely at these and you might find the tiny Squat Lobster that lives within the Feather Starfishes waving arms. Christmas Tree worms, tiny colourful Sponges, Hawk fish and Coral shrimps will keep the photographer busy.
The reef edge itself creates a wonderful experience for novice divers and snorkelers. Huge ancient Boulder corals of Green, Blue and Yellow shelter bays with pretty coral gardens only a short swim from the pinnacle itself. These little Pipe Worms can be seen if you look closely
Here, if you look carefully, you will find all of the colourful coral fish
species you could think to name like these clown fish
and probably many that you couldn’t.
there were plenty of Stripeys
Camouflage cod & Butterfly Fish
Blue-Finned Trigger Fish
and a very quick Blue Spotted Stingray
DEPTH: Maximum Depth 24 metres
VISIBILITY: 08 - 35 metres, average 15m
Located at the southern end of the Agincourt Reef, just around the corner from the continental shelf drop off, Castle Rock is a large pinnacle rising from a steep sand cliff.
Visibility here is extremely good and Castle rock provides for superb deep and shallow dives.
Circumnavigating the pinnacle the divers are likely to see White-Tip Reef sharks resting on the sandy ocean floor.
Almost every dive, you are met by “Axle”
a Malabar Cod,
he is very friendly and will interact with divers,
following them for the majority of the dive,
he may even swim up to you looking to be patted.
will also swim close to have a better look at the divers.
During the dive an abundance of Blue Lined Yellow Snappers and Sergeant Major Damsel fish will escort the group.
Graceful Blue Spotted Lagoon Rays can also be seen “flying” underwater or buried in the sand, only their eyes and tails revealed.
Christmas Tree Worms are to be found extended from the tubes they create within the ancient Boulder corals while Lionfish
may be found lurking in the branching corals.
Daisy the Flowery cod may also make an appearance.
The reef flat surrounding the pinnacle is perfect for snorkellers and for a shallow finish to a dive.
Giant clams can be found in the shallower water along with many different fish including various Parrotfish, Wrasse,
Damsel fish and Rays. Blue-Green Chromis can be seen darting back into the Stagorhorn coral gardens for protection as they are approached.
Simon investigated this coral, looking for baby clown fish
such as these adults
and had quite an effect on this sea urchin
He was popular with the fish,
We were also lucky enough to see this Angel Fish
this leopard print style fish
lots of friendly Trevalli
and many many stripeys
Also, as always, many other fish I can't name!
and one special clam that produced electrofluorescent light!
with thanks to the Silver Series: http://www.silverseries.com.au/