Dive: Wheeler Reef

-- Spoilsport, Sunday, January 6, 2003 --

Dive #21, 22, 23 (night) - Wheeler Reef, Inner Great Barrier Reef (with Scott, Greg, and Hubert)

Numerous small coral bommies, each a complete little world by themselves. During the day, we wandered around the deep area west of Spoilsport (down to around 100'). I found a beautiful bubble-tip anemone with a maroon clownfish in it, which I photographed for two successive dives. Just before hopping in for the second dive, a pod of 6-8 false killer whales buzzed our boat. When we entered the water, we heard dolphins clicking away nearby (Leon, Scott, Sharon, and others saw them -- they were some other sort of dolphin). It kept me looking out into the blue, but we never spotted them.

The evening dive was neat. We saw a flat fish with eyes in the middle of its boomerang-shaped body. No one can identify it. It's not a flounder, we don't think; it's extremely bizarre, and was sitting up on top of a coral until Hubert shined a light on it. It was a 66 minute dive (52' max depth). Hubert kept harping on me for not being able to conserve air for more bottom-time.

On the very last dive, I saw a pair of scissors partially buried on the sandy floor. I reached out to pick it up, and was attacked by a 8" triggerfish! He drew blood, leaving a 6-toothed circular scar on the inside of my right index finger (between the index finger and third finger, right at the base). I took a photo of him. :)

00:17 - Marie showed her video tonight, which was excellent! It's the best trip video I've ever seen. She even made an appearance with Teddy -- in bed! Fun stuff.

After the video a few of us hung out in the galley with Rob, Matt, and Craig. Craig is absolutely hilarious! It's a pity, really; we haven't seen much of him this week because he's always hiding in the engine room. We found out that Rob is 22 years old! It still amazes me to find people younger than I am on trips like this. I'm used to being the youngest participant, even though I'm not so young anymore.

-- Spoilsport & Townsville, Tuesday, January 7, 2003 --

Dive #24 - Wheeler Reef, Inner Great Barrier Reef (with Hubert)

Last dive of the trip! Saw an octopus, two large potato cod, and a large, cute pufferfish with a pattern that looked like the surface of the brain. We spent most of the dive down past 80', and at our safety stop almost 50 minutes later, Hubert still had 67 bar of air left. He's really exceptional with his air. "I'm better," said Daniella, afterwards. :)

Dive: Yongala Wreck

-- Spoilsport, Sunday, January 6, 2003 --

Dive #18, 19, 20 - Yongala Wreck (with Mia, then Leon x 2)

The Yongala Wreck has the most amazing marine wildlife of any place I've ever been. Soft corals and schools of small fish completely cover the entire surface of the vessel, and many enormous specimens of fish and turtles patrol the area. Individual fish are simply larger than they are elsewhere. There is an enormous queensland grouper named "Boris" who lives here. Boris is probably over six feet long, and is always surrounded by a small school of little fish. Mia told us a story about a Swedish fellow who got his head stuck in Boris' mouth a year ago (!). Boris was huge, and mostly hung out near the bow of the ship. Large trevally also patrolled the area -- I saw one that was at least five feet long. The would occasionally dart with unbelievable speed after smaller fish, causing the large schools to scatter and reassemble in a few blinks of an eye. Leon pointed out an enormous moray eel -- the largest one I've ever seen. A huge shovel-nosed ray swam up over the boat, between a few divers. Nearly everything on the boat would wander to within touching distance; nothing seemed to be scared of us. We also saw many sea snakes and turtles. They were quite friendly.

After three dives, the dive deck was closed. Getting onto the Spoilsport after the third dive was really difficult, and Leon managed to have the metal ladder slammed into his crotch. I barely managed to get on board without smashing my camera. Norm immediately became seasick, and one of my German neighbors whom I share the bathroom with left some dinner in the toilet. Also exciting was eating dinner and having bottles, knives, and chairs slide around with the swell. The mooring line broke, and we had to move (Gavin and Dave went running off when that happened).

22:31 - We just finished watching The Rock. Halfway through, we took a break and I gave a slideshow of the images (so far) from this trip, and a few images from other trips. I wish there had been music or something. Even though the silence was unnerving, it seemed that most people enjoyed the show. I couldn't get my thinkpad to output video to the television through the s-video port, but Leon was nice enough to volunteer the use of his TiBook (which worked, except for a strange pulsing/flashing of the image). I did get comments from the audience like, "get a Mac!", and I had to refrain from replying with snyde remarks. I worked at Apple, and have used (and written software for) both platforms for the majority of my conscious life. No one is going to win a Mac vs. PC debate, and throwing out a comment like that shows tremendous naïveté.

I also often hear, "wow, you have a nice camera!" after an image is shown. That's like telling a chef, "wow, you have a nice oven!" upon tasting the food. The proper tools are prerequisites, but are not themselves going to capture a nice shot of something. Dennis definitely understood this -- he kept making a point of saying just that. I appreciated it. :)

Rant #3: Last night at the Aussie BBQ, I heard someone on the boat tell our cook that the cook on the other boat was a bit better. Why you would ever tell a cook that someone else is better -- while he is cooking the meal that you are about to eat -- is beyond me. A few days ago, the same person announced loudly that the Coral Sea wasn't anything special -- just as the group was about to board the boat. That's just plain rude. He has been proven wrong many times over already -- especially by the Yongala Wreck.

I hope the wind dies down by tomorrow morning. I can't wait to go back down to the Yongala. :)

Dive: Scuba Zoo (sharks)

-- Spoilsport, Saturday, January 4, 2003 --

Dive #17 - Scuba Zoo, South Flinder's Reef (entire group, in at once)

I wonder if the "zoo" refers to the frenzy of 30 or so gray reef sharks, or if it refers to the 25 or so tourist hanging onto shark cages? :) Teddy greeted us on the ocean floor; he was outfitted in a full scuba kit, and was sitting on the center of the photographers' shark cage. A large trash can full of meat was dragged around while gray reef sharks chased it, trying to get to the food inside. When the food was actually released after twenty minutes of throwing the trash can around, the sharks went berserk, tearing repeatedly at the steel chain the bait was tied to. It was almost impossible to get a photo of a shark without artificial human things in the frame, so I didn't shoot very much. Afterwards, everyone converged on the feeding site to look for shark teeth (including Teddy!).