SENSATIONAL DIVING AT STRADBROKE


Saturday 29th March 2014

Today we rocked up at the Cleveland ferry terminal only to discover we were about to the catch the wrong ferry and it was an earlier one we were supposed to be on. Thanks Stradbroke ferries for not having the 5.55am time on your website that is super helpful. Luckily Manta Lodge Scuba centre said they would wait for us, thank goodness! So we got picked up and started gearing up in the van on the way to the shop.

As we were conscious of everyone waiting for us we did our paperwork and chucked all our gear on the boat, deciding to rig up our hire tanks for Sidemount on the boat out there.

On the way out I was sitting at the front of the rib and got smashed by a fairly large wave and canned my hand as it pushed me forcefully on to the floor and I was holding on to a metal rail. But nonetheless such things happen on boats and I was just happy to be getting out diving!

A beautiful day weather wise, fairly mild on the surface, the VIS didn’t look great however. Our first dive at Manta Ray Bommie had VIS of 4-8m in places but man oh man what a dive! We saw several beautiful Manta Rays, including two black Mantas, and some huge ones, one with a shark bite out of it’s side, they were curious and came close to us, circling us for the majority of the dive.

There were Leopard sharks and Guitar sharks (Shovel Nose Rays), several bull rays, giant Sting rays: one of which gave me such a fright as I came over a ridge only to find it directly beneath me! Nick even saw a 1.5m Hammerhead shark! which unfortunately I didn’t see nor anyone else as it was passing by. 

 

We did a 57 minute dive maximum depth 15m. On the second dive I was happy to be staying at the site, given there was so much going on here, poor VIS hardly worried me.

The second dive was similar to the first, again seeing several Manta Rays and all friendly and curious. We went for a bit more of a swim on this dive to explore the area and in one of the sand gutters I dropped down and managed to sneak up close to: two beautiful Guitar sharks, two leopard sharks, two Bull rays, and a huge Sting ray all chilling on the sand in a perfect uniformed line up. Can’t complain! The Guitar sharks allowed me to get very close to them before doing a jiggle and moving on to a more private spot.

Some of the other divers spotted Leafy Scorpion fish but I was looking up and into the murky shadows for most of the dive to spot the Mantas and potentially see that Hammerhead that Nick saw.

What a sensational day of diving! Feeling so lucky that we managed to still get out given we stuffed up the ferry time, thanks so much Manta Lodge Scuba! and all the divers that waited for us, much appreciated! 

Having a cold beer now and nearly time for a post dive siesta! What a perfect way to spend a Saturday.

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