The Epic dive with Humpback Whales, Flat Rock, Stradbroke island, Queensland, Australia

Sunday 15th June 2014

Today we headed out to Boat Rock situated off Stradbroke Island, with the sun beaming down on us I had a really good feeling about today’s diving.

We decided to do a negative entry drift dive on Boat Rock due to it’s fierce currents which we encountered the day before. This worked a treat as the five of us dropped down around the North face of the rock to see dozens of Eagle Rays. We got a posy each and waited for something to happen. More Eagle rays came by and the resident pregnant Grey Nurse shark that we had seen the day before, looking like she was about to pop.

I went out wide a bit as saw some movement happening in the distance and found another shark, perhaps a Whaler, it was hard to tell. The bottom of Boat rock is about twenty eight metres and I was on the bottom until I had ten minutes to my decompression limit and then went to join the boys who were up on a 20 metre ledge.

There were tropical fish and huge Blue Angel fish in a cave on the wall. Mark had slipped into decompression so I waited with him on the line to finish his decompression stops as we started to slowly ascend. It was nice hanging out there as there was thirty metres visibility so we just watched Sharks and Rays go by underneath us.

I completed a fifty three minute dive here with a maximum bottom of twenty seven metres. There must have been some thermaclines there as the water temperature got down to nineteen degrees celsius. We were all so thankful to be in drysuits as the wind was really chilly too.

Kev decided to sit out the second dive as he was cold, we all knew we were bound to see something awesome for sure. For our second dive we headed to the Eastern side of Flat rock, again where the current was, in hopes to see the Bull sharks and hundreds of Eagle rays that were spotted the weekend prior with BSAC.

As we were finishing our surface interval we spotted some Humpback Whales far off in the distance. I suggested we start to gear up in case they come over and it was nearly time anyway to get in. We descended down and within minutes I came across a beautiful Bull shark. I wanted to get some closer footage of it so I followed it away from the others to twenty eight metres. It turned around and came back towards me. I thought excellent hopefully it comes close!

I headed back to regroup with the others watching my rear of course. We encountered a few more Sharks, possibly Whalers again. Nick saw three Scalloped Hammerheads and we saw three very large Sting rays. A few of the others had already turned the dive before we did, and as we started to head back to the boat I noticed a small Bull ray being cleaned and I got some close up footage of it.

I was filming it for a while when I looked up to see where Nick was….He was up at about fifteen metres and I thought what the hell is he doing up there, then I saw the boat and thought that’s weird the boats moved around…. But hang on, I looked again and no it wasn’t the boat, it was a huge Humpback Whale! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Four large Humpbacks came passing through clear as day in thirty metres visibility.

I saw Nick was only a few metres away from them. Amazing! Of course I tried to quickly change all my settings that had been set for shooting down at the Bull ray to compensate the extreme light from the sun and shooting upwards, but unfortunately I just did not have enough time in which to do so. I was also much further away still being around twenty six metres deep and wasn’t about to get bent rushing up to see them.

However, before you call bull shit you’ll be pleased to know that Nick caught it all on the Go Pro.  I am insanely jealous that I didn’t get anything on my Canon 5D Mark 3! But hey I got to see four Whales underwater I’m pretty ecstatic about that!

Whale footage courtesy of Nick Kermode.

As we ascended on the line we hung out with a family of about thirty baby squids which were adorable and grouped closely to the rope.

We headed back to shore and I couldn’t help but just laugh out loud, literally, Unbelievable! I’m so glad everyone who was diving saw them too, including Ken who got so close he could’ve touched one and Mark and Dave who were on the other side of them about ten metres away.

 

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