. OnHiatus.com > Journal 1 > Day Index > Journal Entry: May 25, 2000

Thursday, May 25, 2000
Amazing, Holmes Reef, Coral Sea, QLD, Australia
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Amazing, Holmes Reef, Coral Sea, QLD, Australia:
Latitude: 16° 30' 37" South
Longitude: 147° 50' 22" East
Altitude: 3 feet
From Seattle: 7788 miles
Lodging: Transit - The Dive Ship Rum Runner

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Today's Travel:
Country: Australia
Region: Queensland
Route: Dive Ship: Rum Runner
Weather: Mostly Sunny

Available Photos:

Reef Near Amazing, Holmes Reef, QLD, Australia

Reef Near Amazing, Holmes Reef, QLD, Australia

Reef Near Amazing, Holmes Reef, QLD, Australia

Rum Runner's deck Near Amazing, Holmes Reef, QLD, Australia

Sharks Near Amazing, Holmes Reef, QLD, Australia

Sharks Near Amazing, Holmes Reef, QLD, Australia

Sharks Near Amazing, Holmes Reef, QLD, Australia

All photo images © 1997-2000 Anthony Jones - Images may not be used without prior written approval.

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Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 1141
Linear Dist: 217656
Countries Visited: 68
Regions Visited: 259
More stats...
Hotels: 382
Friends / Family: 293
Camping: 126
Hostels: 253
Transit: 73
Other Lodging: 13
Beers: 4000
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Journal Entry:
The generator ran all night and appeared to be working perfectly. The early morning dive (the first of the five planned dives for the day) was at a nearby spot called "The Cathedral". It was a fantastic dive site. We dropped down on to a deep plateau (~ 140 feet / 45 meters) which just dropped off into the most incredible blue infinity. After just looking into the blue for a bit we made our way up a steep slope covered in scattered hard and soft corals. In the shallows there were sand spots with fresh water springs causing a slight heliocline (ripple effect in the salt water) scattered among coral and rock canyons. Tons of swim throughs - some quite tight - one I almost got stuck in and I thought I was going to have to take my equipment off to wiggle through, but I managed to squeak through.

After getting out of the water and getting our gear off we had a huge proper hot breakfast waiting. Immediately after rushing through the meal it was time to gear up again! The problem with trying to do this many dives in a day is that there is only an hour between dives - and after gearing down and up that leaves about twenty minutes.

The second dive was a drift dive along a coral wall known as "The Abyss". Even a better example of that hypnotic blue. This section of the reef is a vertical wall starting at one meter (3 feet) below the surface and running straight down to more than 1,000 meters (.6 miles). This was also a great dive with the visibility approaching yesterday's first dive - about 130 feet (40 meters). The thing about a drift dive is you don't have to work much, you just sit there and inspect the wall at the depth you've chosen as the current moves you slowly by. And using a computer it's even easier (and safer) as you don't have to be quite so aware of timing for changing depth. We started out at 40 meters (130 feet - my deepest dive) and gradually ascended to the top of the reef over forty minutes. The life on the wall was fantastic, but I was a little disappointed in the deep water life. I was hoping to see a hammer head shark (they're often seen here), but all I saw was a few white tips.

Moved the boat a ways for the third dive: "Turtles Graveyard". It's not even lunch time yet and we were on our third dive! I wasn't all that gung-ho as I didn't want to wear my self out. Still it was a good dive with 35 meter (114 foot) visibility and much shallower with a maximum depth of 23.5 meters (76 feet). The highlights were (again) some swim throughs (all plenty big), a few yellow moray ells, and a large (3 m / 10 ft) Zebra Shark. I didn't know what kind of shark it was (we looked it up in a book later), but you could tell that it wasn't a (very) dangerous one as it had a small mouth - it was very tolerant of us letting us get within a few feet.

After the third dive we had a problem - the generator (and thus the compressor) was failing again. They managed to get the tanks filled one final time before it gave up for good, but that meant we only got one last dive. It was decided to wait until the late afternoon shark feeding dive. Spent the afternoon enjoying the hot sunny (finally!) day. Also did some snorkeling - quite a few sharks around plus some other big fish and the usual small ones. At one point Peter (the onboard diving instructor) used some fish to bait one of the white tip sharks into biting onto a chain and hauled it up on deck for a few seconds. It wasn't huge, but still a good meter and a half with a big mouthful of teeth! I also managed to climb / shimmy / hoist myself up the mast to the crow's nest for some photos.

The fourth and final dive of the day was the shark feeding dive - appropriately at a site called "Preditor's Playground". We were placed on the sandy floor in a large semi-circle. Then some fish guts were dumped off the boat to get the sea life interested. A few minutes after that a huge skewer of fish was lowered on a chain and the sharks moved in. There must have been about fifty of them ranging in size from one to three meters (three to ten feet). Again, it was mostly white tips, but there were also some gray whalers, four silver tips, and a large tawny nurse. It was pretty good, but I've done several shark dives before, and after a while I start to get bored (!) and cold. It's such a passive dive, with no sense of discovery. At the end the dive was cut short due to an aggressive silver tip that wouldn't be herded away.

Shortly after getting out of the fourth dive we said goodbye to Holmes Reef and started steaming back towards the Great Barrier Reef and Cairns. Had a great roast dinner before the seas started to get rough again - though nothing like the ride out! We're still not sure if we'll be able to dive at the reef tomorrow.


Related Sites:
US State Department Consular Information Sheets: Australia
CIA World Fact Book: Australia

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