Mike Ball Dive Expeditions - Blog and Company News


To Be Perfect

Captain Trevor Jackson

It’s not called the GREAT Barrier Reef for nothing…..it’s called that because it’s ….well…GREAT… both in size and in content. Trouble is, more and more these days we are hearing about threats to the reef caused by man’s intervention with the environment. Social and news media outlets love to wax on endlessly with stories and articles that invariably revolve around negativity…because negative news is what provokes the most chatter around the office water cooler! In short; they live for doom and gloom! Well I’m not having any of it here! This month I want to talk about something that happened the other week that bucks the trend, in fact, flips it entirely on its head. A GREAT piece of news, and it’s quite simply this… we just found the BEST coral dive on the whole reef. Now I know that sounds like a bold statement, and the kind of thing you might read in a dive company’s promotional blog, but I assure you it’s true.

About a year or so ago, cyclone Nathan went through this area and gave the odd dive site a bit of a tickle. Whilst this is a perfectly natural event, it did have us on our toes and prompted a mindset at Mike Ball Dive Expeditions that we should never rest on our laurels and expect everything would always be alright…even mildly storm damaged coral reef sites are not our idea of ‘World Class’ so we set about spending the year exploring and expanding our itinerary. Month after month we discover sites that are becoming the new benchmark….every trip…but even with all that progress we were still in search of the cherry on the cake….the picture perfect, postcard dive site that would reinvent the notion of what the Barrier Reef was all about. A site that looked more like an exercise in photoshop than a real place; a place where you simply will not believe your eyes…and…in early December we found it! East of the Cooktown longitude but still within the calming protection of the GBR is the fabulous….Trolly Shoal.

We haven’t even had the chance to explore the place thoroughly yet but it has become immediately apparent the Trolly Shoal wants for nothing! The area has simply got the lot, and got it in spades. But it’s the untouched quality and quantity of the hard coral that has us jumping into our fins. I’ve tried but I can’t justifiably put into words how good it is and it’s impossible to try to compare it to any other place. But I will say this…in 35 years of diving the GBR, I’ve never seen anything quite up to this standard. Somehow someone forgot to tell Trolly Shoal, not to be perfect.

Check out Trolly Shoal yourself.


Coral Sea

Captain Trevor Jackson

A few weeks ago I was in the school carpark. I’d just dropped my daughter off at prep and had made my way back to the car. I started it and popped it in reverse. The car did that visible little jerk that automatics do when you put them in gear, but I had my foot on the brake so the car didn’t move. Which as it turns out, was just as well….. Read the rest of this entry »



Captain Trevor Jackson

You can scroll through a thousand google images and not find its equal. I know this because I’ve just done it. The day after the trip ended, for hours, trying to find the equal of the aptly nicknamed Gigantus Gorgonia … a spectacular soft coral assembly, 42 metres down, way, way out in the Coral Sea. Exactly 5 years ago to this day Trip Director Kerrin Jones and I measured this whopper at an astounding 5.25 metres across. There wasn’t a tape measure on board that could do it in one hit so we had to take two down with us. This week we were expecting a different result, and we got one … but let me start at the beginning. Read the rest of this entry »


Hats Off

Captain Trevor Jackson

You know we all get in a rut…No matter how good life gets, we will occasionally sink into a shallow, muddy pond of self-pity and begin to think we’ve got it tough. Stuck in traffic, kids getting on your nerves, boss being a tyrant? Whatever the reason, it gets to us all, and you know what? We are entitled to the occasional self-indulgent moan…aren’t we? By the same token, we don’t want to let negative thoughts consume us too much. But sometimes the universe does seem overwhelming doesn’t it? Read the rest of this entry »


Return to Gigantus

Captain Trevor Jackson

“If I hadn’t seen it myself I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s been spoken of before, but usually over a few too many drinks. It’s alluring, mythical, a once in a lifetime thing. I don’t know if I ever believed in it, and I definitely didn’t think I’d ever see it. But there it was deadset ….… certifiable ………..70 metre viz. This water wasn’t “gin clear”: it was vacuum clear. Read the rest of this entry »


Pumpin’ Like Crazy

Trevor Jackson – Spoilsport Captain

“How sweet it is to be loved by you”…Everyone is walking around the boat singing that song today. The crew are at least, they’re all in a real good mood and I can’t quite put my finger on why. It could be the fact that we’ve just completed the first trip of our new Holmes, Bougainville, Osprey Reef itinerary without even the slightest glitch. It could be the glorious weather, it could be the viz…whatever it is…they’re happy about life on the high seas right about now. Read the rest of this entry »


What the Darkness was Hiding

Trevor Jackson – Spoilsport Captain

Years ago I forged a career out of finding things on the seafloor that no-one had found before. Enough wrecks to write a book about. But to be fair I’d have to say, it’s a rarity in recent times. Finding an interesting place on the earth that hasn’t already been thoroughly worked over, well it’s not something that happens every day. Sometimes though, when you least expect it, something pops up. Read the rest of this entry »


The mother of all dive sites

Trevor Jackson – Spoilsport Captain

Consider for a moment all the things that would make one dive destination great. It would have to have spectacular marine life, amazing geography and crystal clear water. It would need to be remote enough so that the volume of visitors was low but, with the right planning, accessible. A wreck or two wouldn’t go astray either, oh and throw in a couple of mind numbing drop offs to round the whole package off. And I’m not talking about sedate little 40 metre drop-offs here, I mean serious ones. There’s nothing like hovering out off a wall in 1500 metres to remind you you’re alive!!! Chuck in a drift dive, some nice swim throughs and an extra dollop of big shark action for good measure. Yep that would just about do it for me. But where would I find it? Well the answer to that is simple: Bougainville Reef. Read the rest of this entry »


As long as you live

Trevor Jackson – Spoilsport Captain

There are plenty of things we don’t understand about the universe. Physicists try to make a fist of it but the bottom line is, no one really knows how it all works. The same is true of nature. Despite centuries of study, there is so much we simply don’t understand. How do geese find their way home after winter?  How do bats ‘see’ in the dark? How do turtles find exactly the same patch of beach year after year? But the baffling question that pops up aboard Spoily this time every year is…How is it that these dwarf minke whales know exactly when and where to show up at the same spot and the same time to give us such a fantastic insight into their lives? Read the rest of this entry »

Bill Daniel - Shrimp

The Odd Gorilla

Trevor Jackson – Spoilsport Captain

Our yearly tussle with cyclones usually begins as the summer months begin to ebb…the water temperature in the Coral Sea has reached its critical point and when everything aligns…a cyclone spins up and begins its often erratic dance towards the Qld coast…when that happens we start to watch…in terms of being at sea, not a lot happens fast. Cyclone are far reaching but slow moving…to be in any real danger in this modern technological age you’d pretty much have to have a cyclone form almost on your position in very quick order, and even then, the watchful skipper should be onto it with 24 hours to spare. Read the rest of this entry »

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