SEA MERMAID ……. Dugong, Corbett Reef

seamermaid (54k image)

In the far north of the Great Barrier Reef, Ben Cropp and I followed this sea cow for half an hour rolling tape for a sequence in one of Ben’s forthcoming TV documentaries.

For me it was a first-time opportunity to photograph one at close-range. This adult specimen has a mouthful of sea grass.

All around us were perhaps a hundred green turtles scattered over a few kilometers.

Every 100 meters or so a turtle would race from the shallows toward deeper water.

Due to these shallow conditions the movement of the reptile would reveal a wave on the surface making it easy to spot them.

Ben was silently amazed at these numbers. For a man who has spent decades on the sea this says a lot.

Corbett Reef is well out of the tourist travel zones.

The few humans to visit this area are on prawn trawlers, beche-de-mer dive boats, and live lobster fishermen-divers.

The far north of the Queensland coast is a frontier everyone should experience with a boat trip from Cairns to Thursday Island. No longer a cheap journey as in the era of Queen of the Isles.

The empty vastness of the northern east coast of Australia is quite amazing.

(updated 5 September 2010)

VANISHING CORALS ……..\of Lady Musgrave Lagoon\

lmlagoon (133k image)

A beautiful formation of very delicate coral that would have covered one hundred square meters of lagoon floor.

A single carelessly dropped small boat anchor could carve a noticeable path through this pristine formation.

The corals had probably survived due to the unusual location – in a direct line 100 meters inside the lagoon from the “pass” the channel or entrance that allows ocean water to freely spill into and from the lagoon.

Not a location for any boat to wish to anchor at. Also a place where strong nutrient-rich current was a daily occurance.

Is this formation alive today?

This picture was made in 1979 when Janine Thomson and I were camped on the island off Bundaberg, Queensland, for two weeks as guests of a Sydney-based dive company.

We recorded 16mm underwater footage of this formation.

It is yet to be used due to illustrate the size and uniquness of this formation. Something we almost took for granted at the time. My experiences elsewhere had never encountered anything like this.

Today it might be protected and promoted as an attraction in much the same manner as a very old, tall forest tree.

Does anyone really care? Things hidden under the surface are too easily ignored.

NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE Shark chews speared cod

neardeathexperience (88k image)

A newspaper version of events: When the shark rushed at Rick he held the fish in front of him for protection…… note the teeth marks, it was a huge bull shark so long the tail disappeared into the murky Darwin Harbour waters where visibility rarely exceeds 15 feet.

A TV news version A skin diver escaped death from a huge shark in Darwin Harbor today…… diver Rick Trippe had just speared a 100 found groper when the shark charged him.

**The true version (as told here)** Rick sent me this picture, it looks like a large shark had a chew on this Brown Spotted Cod soon after this fish was speared. The vibrations of the struggling fish attracting the shark as they will. Often the shark gets the lot.

The slimy, tough fish scales offered some protection – a lot more than a divers wet suit, that’s for certain.

Picture: Rick Trippe Collection