Diving on the Great Barrier Reef – Take Two on Taka!

A cute spotted sweetlips at Clam Gardens on the Great Barrier Reef

A cute spotted sweetlips at Clam Gardens on the Great Barrier Reef

I loved my Great Barrier Reef diving trip on Taka a couple of months ago so much I wanted to do it all over again, but alas, it’s obviously not cheap! In Cairns it’s relatively common for dive companies to offer “hostie” gigs – room, board, and a handful of dives in exchange for washing dishes and doing other odd jobs on the boat. I jumped at the chance to do it with Taka this past weekend so I could go back to the Ribbon Reefs.

It was much, much harder work than I’d expected and honestly I’m not quite sure it was worth it. If I’d taught English for the 25 hours I spent working on the boat, I would have made enough to pay for the trip outright and then enjoyed it a lot more  (and spared my hands a couple of burns and cuts – those industrial dishwashing machines aren’t messing around!). However, it was definitely a different experience than anything I’ve done before and I’m glad I did it, if only so that I’ve gained a new appreciation for people who do that kind of work full time.

Now, on to the diving. I did 8 wonderful dives this time around but only brought my camera on half of them as I wanted to really focus on breathing and maximizing air efficiency. Of course, the dives where I saw sharks, a Maori wrasse, awesome eels, and stingrays I didn’t have the camera. Murphy’s law, I suppose. This batch of pictures comes from Steve’s Bommie and Clam Gardens.

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Diving on the Great Barrier Reef: Challenger Bay

Yellow-Banded Sweetlips at Challenger Bay in the Great Barrier Reef

Yellow-Banded Sweetlips at Challenger Bay in the Great Barrier Reef

I spent a weekend aboard the Taka Ribbon Reef Explorer, a 5-day trip organized by Deep Sea Divers Den. It was an absolutely incredible trip where I had the opportunity to dive 14 times on the Great Barrier Reef and go snorkeling with Minke whales, who are in the middle of their yearly migration south. The diving far surpassed my expectations, as the boat took us to far north diving spots that few other companies go to. In fact, one of our dive sites had only been visited by three other dive groups before us!

This set of photos comes from the Challenger Bay dive site, a shallow reef with abundant soft coral formations and schools of angelfish, sweetlips, and wrasses.

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