Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Diving on the Ningaloo Reef – Part 1

Sorry non divers but this is another diving blog entry full of fish pictures and things of interest to a limited audience. So turn off here if you do not want to see a video of a turtle swimming and pictures of yet more fish.

The North West Coast of Australia is known to divers as one of those places you must dive at some time in your diving life. This is because of the Ningaloo Reef which runs very close down this section of the coast, far closer to the coast than the better known Barrier Reef on the eastern seaboard. Being amongst the most isolated and distant parts of Australia, the reef is less visited and is therefore in good condition. The reef is also known for attracting Whale Sharks, Manta Rays, Whales, Turtles and many other great fish.

Paul on the line

Lighthouse Bay was the location for three dives – so called because of the lighthouse which overlooks the bay and from which you can see part of the

Ningaloo Reef off Lighthouse Point

reef (the breaking waves shows where the reef is)

Blizzard Dve Plan Ningaloo Reef

dives. The first dive was along both sides of a ridge which was home to a variety of fish and sea snakes including a huge potato cod which refused to pose for a photograph

Sea Snake

Bat Fish 

Fish 1

Fish 2

Fish 3

and some relatively distant sharks.

Dive Two (Gullivers) was interesting in that there were at least three

Labarynth and Gullivers Dive Plan

sharks sleeping in the reef whom we were able to approach

White Tip Shark

plus numerous fish

Fish 4

FIsh 5

and some very dense shoals which were interesting to swim through

Shoal of Fish

The coral was nothing special (by Red Sea standards)


but the Star Fish were far better.

Star Fish-1

and there was a particularly good example of an Anemone with a Comic Fish living in it.

Sea Anenome 

Sea Anenome and Comic Fish

At the end of the dive a new hazard appeared and that was a large number of stinging jelly fish who were swimming towards and then

Jelly Fish 2

over our exit point. These jelly fish have very long filament tentacles hanging down from them which they use to catch small fish, which they fist  incapacitate (through stinging) and then draw up for food

Jelly Fish 4-1

The problem for us was that their tentacles got tangled with the boat stern line up which we ascend and therefore they were stuck in above in our path. The way to move them on is to purge significant volumes of air from below them, forcing them to rise and move out of the way. Despite the fact that my buddy was running low on air, we manage to get them to move off and ascended with only a few minor stings (which were neutralised with vinegar).

Dive Three (Labyrinth) was particularly interesting in that for the first time I had a close look at a “cleaning station”. This is a particular

Cleaning Station for Bat Fish

location in a reef or sea area to which certain types of fish go for cleaning by other fish. In this case, there was a large bat fish which was having its gills cleaned. The look of ecstasy on the Bat Fish’s face made the dive well worth while.

Fish 3-1

Then we came across some sleeping turtles

Turtle 3

and a swimming turtle which I was able to follow for some distance

Two more dives tomorrow.

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