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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Whales and Dolphins on the Great Barrier Reef

A migrating minke whale seen on the Great Barrier Reef

A migrating minke whale seen on the Great Barrier Reef

A huge draw of the Taka liveaboard trips is the possibility of seeing minke whales during their winter migration. I did have the opportunity to snorkel with some friendly visitors and get a few snaps. We were also treated to a dolphin show of sorts. Dozens of the creatures hitched a ride at the front on the third day of our trip and spent about 15 minutes jumping and swimming alongside us.

 

Diving on the Great Barrier Reef: Steve’s Bommie

Schools of yellow lined snapper and fusilier at Steve's Bommie in the Great Barrier Reef

Schools of yellow lined snapper and fusilier at Steve’s Bommie in the Great Barrier Reef

Steve’s Bommie is one of the most popular dive sites on the Ribbon Reefs and it was highly anticipated on the Taka trip. Before this dive a helpful staff member aboard Taka helped me play around with the color settings on my camera, which resulted in some really good, rich shots. The yellow of the snapper is superb and some of the coral colors came out marvelously. As I’m still a novice photographer, some of the photos were a bit TOO color rich, but with more experimentation I’m sure I’ll get it right soon enough.

I had some trouble identifying some of these fish, so if any marine biologists happen to stumble upon this page and have corrections, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

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Diving on the Great Barrier Reef: Cod Hole

A potato cod approaching me just under Taka, looking for some food

A potato cod approaching me just under Taka, looking for some food at Cod Hole

Cod Hole is dive site famous for its family of potato cod that have been fed by visitors for decades. We did two dives at this site, and on the second dive our guide fed the family, giving us an up close and personal interaction with the fish! They are extremely friendly and obviously attracted to people because they know they’re about to get some grub. As a result, I got some really good shots of them. I also saw some some colorful wrasses, butterfly fish, anemone fish, and snapper.

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