Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dec 27 2011 - Australia - Scuba diving liveaboard at the Great Barrier Reef

Olga and I just spent the past two days on a liveaboard trip with the wonderful Deep Sea Divers Den - I was scuba diving and she was snorkeling. The first two dives were on a small boat that took us out to the Great Barrier Reef, the other five were on a ship permanently out on the reef that moves from site to site along the reef. It was really neat having our own room on the larger ship where we could keep our stuff or rest if we wanted privacy - but of course we spent most of our free time in the various common areas hanging out with the different crowds.  Below is a stream of consciousness I logged after each dive.

1st day, 1st dive:
Guide put a metal wand up to an anemone and it opened up like a blooming flower. Napoleon fish came and brushed up against us when we were just barely underwater. Held an elephant trunk fish that was lying on the bottom of the water. Ran out of air a little early, went back to the boat a few mins before the rest of the group. While I was waiting at the surface, a turtle swam right by! Sometimes snorkelers have the best perspective. Olga reports having a penthouse view of the reef, fish, and divers.

2nd dive:
Guide put his finger in a hole near a giant clam then waved his other hand near the clam and it slammed shut. There was a coral with 3 "eyes" and the eyes popped back inside when he put his hand near them. I later heard these are called Christmas Tree worms.

3rd dive:
First unguided dive. Paired up in a threesome with two buddies (Eugene and Robin). We followed a reef shark. Then we spotted that the bottom of the ocean - which is a white fine sand - had a spine and a gill that was breathing. Moments later it swam away - a stingray!

4th dive:
Night dive in a guided group. Guide kept shining a flashlight at spots and pointing at interesting things, but I couldn't see them. It was interesting just to be there diving in the dark, everything looks so different. Hung out by the boat mooring cable where they were shining a very bright light - about 10 reef sharks circled us. So exciting!!

The weather got nasty in the evening. When we were trying to re-enter the ship after the night dive, it was bouncing up and down about 1 meter - I'd be on the ladder one step above the water line and then all of a sudden I'd be 4 steps underwater. After everyone was back, they moved the boat, presumably to a quieter location or perhaps away from the reef for its safety. The boat kept rocking all night, it was tough to get a deep sleep. 

Sharks circling the stern of the ship as the sun sets
2nd day, 1st dive at 6am:
No guide, buddied up again with Eugene. We dove towards the left and ended up swimming around a circular reef formation a few times. Stopped for a bit to help out a lost diver. While we were stationary at about 5 meters, I suddenly became positively boyant and couldn't stay put. Let the water take me up, took a breath of air at the surface, used this as an opportunity to note the location of the boat, and rejoined my dive partner underwater.

Dave and Robin ready for the night dive

2nd dive:
Eugene and I crept up on a reef shark, we were probably about 8 meters away, snapped a bunch of photos with his camera. Best dive so far in diversity, time, and my comfort in the water. Two clownfish were playing in an anemone, running across its bristles, back and forth and back and forth - adorable.

Just about to head into the water for a night dive.
Did you see those sharks?
3rd dive:
First dive where I was the leader - my buddy Cheryl just got certified yesterday. Didn't see much new (3rd time diving in the same spot), but it was neat to show her some tricks I learned such as the Christmas Tree worm and to point out fish I liked.

For Olga's experiences snorkeling, check out her blogpost: http://plotkills.blogspot.com/2011/12/lone-snorkler-at-barrier-reef.html


Dave V said...

Freakin awesome dude! Looks like your pre-vacation PADI classes paid off! Maybe someday I'll join you in your underwater adventures!

Karen the first said...

That sounds so terrific! Did you know that you could dive so many times in a day? Are you in any danger from the sharks or are they trained to be friendly to tourists? ;)

Dave said...

I knew we could do 7 dives in the two days. I later found out every additional day adds another 5 possible dives. Most of the people we met stayed 3 days (2 nights) and had the option to dive 12 times, crazy!
Apparently reef sharks are pescetarians, at least that's what they tell us :)

Unknown said...

Very cool!

Night diving is harder .. "clearly." Is it more dangerous? Are trained in dealing with dangers like a sting ray. Are they generally shy of people?

P.S. When I asked for underwater photos, I meant fish and reef .. not you :-))

Jenn Lipke said...

So jelous!!! You guys go on the best trips! So glad you blog about it so I can live vicariously :)

Dave said...

All of my dive buddies ended up buying or renting cameras, so I'm waiting for them to send me the photos of our dives. It turns out that if you're photographing, you're missing a lot of the ambiance of the reef (and forgetting to breathe!)

Bruce said...

Night diving, yeah thats kinda bad-ass

Dave Grenetz said...

@Bruce: Night diving with sharks is hella bad-ass :)