From Mike's Desk

Hello Divers

It’s nearly minke whale season, so if you’re keen for an up close experience with these gentle giants, read on to find out more about our minke expeditions. We also explain coral bleaching and report on how the reef is faring where we go, and introduce a fish ID app created by local legend Bob Halstead.

The minkes are coming

Over winter dwarf minke whales travel along the Great Barrier Reef on their way north to warmer waters. Only a handful of operators are licenced to organise encounters with these amazing creatures and from 8 June until 20 July we will be running minke whale expeditions.

Dwarf minkes whales grow up to eight metres in length and are very inquisitive and interact with humans. As with any wild creature there are no absolute guarantees however in 21 years of operation there have only been three expeditions where minke whales have not been encountered.

There are few experiences that come close to hanging on a line while a couple of whales investigate at close range and these expeditions are selling out fast (some are already fully booked) so don’t delay if you’re keen to join us. We are also taking bookings now for 2018.

Understanding coral bleaching

There’s been a lot of discussion in the news lately about bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. While not good news, it’s important to understand the difference between coral bleaching and coral mortality. When corals are stressed by warmer than usual water temperatures they expel the colourful algae on which they feed, turning them white. This is referred to as coral bleaching. If the stress-caused bleaching is not severe, corals often recover. If the algae loss is prolonged and the stress continues, the coral eventually dies.

While media has reported bleaching as widespread, effectively writing off much of the reef north of Cairns, the reality is far more complex than that. Proximity to cooler currents upwelling along the Continental Shelf, localised weather conditions and other regional conditions can all affect reef health.

While we have experienced bleaching over the years, it is not to the broad-scale severe extent that is now being reported. Spoilsport travels 450 miles per week and this mobility gives us the freedom to pick and choose the sites we visit. There are some sites we no longer visit however we’ve also discovered new fantastic sites, ensuring the quality of diving our guests experience is not affected. Hard and soft corals are still abundant, fish life is prolific and guest satisfaction is high.

We do need to protect the reef into the future but for us, for now, it’s excellent diving as usual.

Images taken mid March 2017

“Dive site selection was exceptional.” – Tom Bessant, USA
“Excellent diving!” – Marianna Safronova, Australia
“All of the marine life & biodiversity was incredible.” – Alyssa Virtue, USA
Recent guest feedback.

Coral Sea Fish Guide – the app!

Local legend and author of eight books, Bob Halstead has created an app sure to please snorkelers and divers. The app contains over 880 species from the Great Barrier Reef and South Pacific region, with detailed information for each species. Easily browse or search for species, create your own notes and favourites, and share via Facebook and email. No internet access required.
A handy guide to take with you on your next dive expedition!

That’s it from the dive deck for now.

Until next time…

Bob Halsteads Fish Guide

Musings from the Captain

Minke Whale Expedition

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