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Dive Review of Mike Ball in
Australia/Townsville - Coral Sea

Mike Ball, Oct, 2003,

by Gary Krippendorf, CA, USA (Contributor Contributor 14 reports). Report 1411.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We boarded the Spoilsport in the evening in the Townsville harbor for the 6 night Coral Sea Expedition trip. The overnight trip out to the first dive sites was very rough. Even those of us on prescription seasickness medications and using motion sickness wrist straps became quite ill. Our first dive was at 10 am that next morning. As we were anchored, the seas were okay and most people were feeling better after breakfast.

Wade was the Trip Director and made sure everyone understood the daily schedules, the systems used on the dive deck and in the water, and asked for feedback. He and the crew did an excellent job at ensuring we all had a safe and enjoyable trip.

The water was usually smooth at the sites and we either dove off the back of the boat or had 5-10 minute rides in the “rubber duck” boats to the dive site. Before each dive we’d get a briefing for the site, which described the lay of the land, so to speak, and listed the types of sea life known to be in the area. The first 2 days of diving were at the Great Barrier Reef. Visibility was usually about 50 feet and corals and fish were abundant. Once we reached the dive sites around Flinders Reef out in the Coral Sea the visibility was significantly better, with some sites at 150 feet or more. Our second dive at a site called Cod Wall had visibility that was well over 200 feet. There were lots of giant clams in a variety of color patterns, schools of fish and healthy corals.

We did a shark dive at a site called "Scuba Zoo." They have 3 large cages set up in an open V shape on a sand bottom at a depth of 55 feet. Divers are told to either lie motionless on top of the cages or wait inside. At this point in time 20 or more sharks are already circling the area, having been attracted by the noise from the boat. Wade, wearing a cape (to mimic a superhero?) used a rope and pulley to raise and lower a garbage can filled with fish parts positioned in the center of the V. After about 35-40 minutes of watching the sharks swimming around the food can, divers were signaled to enter the cages. The can was opened, the sharks went into a feeding frenzy for about a minute, than most swam off. Divers exited the cages and did a short look for shark teeth on the sand before returning to the boat. This is an interesting event, but the extensive time spent watching the shaking food can became a bit boring after about 15-20 minutes.

The next day we arrived at the Yongala wreck. We spent 1 1/2 days at the wreck. The visibility varied between 10-15 feet on some dives up to 35-40 feet on others. The currents were quite strong, which lead the crew to cancel the late afternoon dive and night dive on our first day there. To get to the wreck you would pull yourself along a surface line from the boat to the mooring buoy, than down a line to the bow of the wreck. You’d drift with the current to the stern, ascend up the line to the stern mooring buoy, than pull yourself back to the boat using the other surface line. They had the “rubber ducks” on standby to go after anyone who needed assistance. There were unending schools of fish, both small and large constantly circling the 300 foot wreck.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Cayman Brac, Dominica, Cozumel, Roatan, Sea of Cortez, Hawaii, Australia (GBR), and PNG
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 77-79°F / 25-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20-200 Ft/ 6-61 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions First dive of the day needed to be the deepest. The maximum depth and total dive time were recorded after each dive. Divers were allowed to dive their own computer profile
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Camera tables on dive deck including compressed air. On-board processing available.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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