Truly the highlight of our three weeks in the Cairns area of Queensland was three days spent on the live a board ‘Reef Encounter’. We were taken out to the Great Barrier Reef on a fast catamaran, then transferred over to the floating hotel.
We were both very surprised and pleased at what we encountered on the ship. The rooms were very large (bearing in mind you are on a boat), the food was good, and the staff were very friendly. The quality of the gear was excellent.
We did a total of ten dives while out on the reef. It was like being in a wonderland under the surface. Around every corner there were colourful fish and coral. The weather was perfect for us and the visibility at its worst was 10 – 11 metres.
The variety was amazing. The dive where we saw the least was the night dive. This was mainly because there were so many Giant Trevally (check out the video link lower down) swimming with us that nothing else dared be out. Every small fish I saw was immediately set upon by half a dozen GT’s and consumed, so I made an effort not to spotlight smaller fish.
I was quite taken with the giant clams. They were all over the place, some free standing and others totally encapsulated by other coral.
The most excitement I had was when I apparently encroached on a Trigger fish’s area and it attacked me. It struck at my fins twice before landing a solid bite on the back of my left arm. I had to kick at it with my fins until I was able to retreat from it’s area. Certainly a great reminder as to who is the visitor under the water.
There were Hawksbill turtles on nearly every dive, and once we knew what to look for we ‘found Nemo’ everywhere.
One of the neatest things to observe was how different types of coral provided a home and a degree of protection to schools of smaller fish. Truly, one could just hover over a patch of coral for 15 – 20 minutes and just watch the complex symphony of life play out in front of you.
Before I say farewell from the Great Barrier Reef I will leave you with a video of our time below the surface in the wonderful example of mother nature at work.