Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Eastern Apex - Raine Island, Queensland
Great Detached Reef is located at the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland, Australia. It is about 125 nautical miles (230 kilometres) from Thursday Island in the Cape York area (the pointy tip of Australia) and 75 nm (140 kilometres) from Lockhart River. The is 45 nm (85 kilometres) east-north-east from closest point of the Australian mainland, Cape Grenville. It is just over 4 nm south of Raine Island, the largest green turtle nursery in the world.
|A chart showing the location of Great Detached Reef (bottom right)|
and Thursday Island (top left)
|Raine Island - Eastern Apex is shown by the coloured marker|
Northern end of Great Detached Reef below it
There are only a couple of boats that travel to this area, one being Kalinda which routinely does full boat charters there in November and December. Another boat does some trips there and one more might go there once or twice a year.
Kelly and I travelled here in November 2016 on Kalinda with fellow members of St George Scuba Club when we chartered the whole boat. We flew into Horn Island (next to Thursday) and started our trip from there.
As mentioned, Raine Island is a short distance north of the Great Detached Reef which is where we did most of our diving on this trip. Raine Island "is the largest and most important green sea turtle nesting area in the world, with up to 18,000 females nesting on the small coral sand cay in one season. The turtle population can vary from a figure of less than 1,000 to more than 10,000". It is also "the longest known marine turtle rookery anywhere in the world" (quotes from Wikipedia). Despite what we were told of over 10,000 turtles a night laying eggs, it still is an extremely important location.
Eastern Apex is located on the reef to the east of Raine Island. Its location is GPS S11Âș 43.929 E143Âș 58.530'. The island is surrounded by a reef which is quite a way from the island on this side. The top of the reef is a metre or so and it slopes gradually to about five metres before dropping quite steeply to well over 30 metres.
The boat can anchor here just off the five metre area. The main aim of the dive is to not necessarily look for green turtles, as they are very common on the Great Detached Reef, but to see tiger sharks. The tiger sharks come here to feed on injured, dead or tired turtles.
|One of the numerous green turtles see here||An egg casing from a green turtle|
Once in the water we dropped to 25 metre or so and headed north and then north-east along the sloping wall. Along the way we saw plenty of silver-tipped reef sharks. We gradually ascended as we went to 15 metres where we turned around and headed back. In this area we saw two green turtles and I spotted what may (or may not) have been a large tiger shark way off up in the shallows.
On the way back we saw an epaulette shark, a clown triggerfish, a few titan triggerfish and all the normal species. The coral on this reef was also quite nice.
|A clown triggerfish||Simon Hoad exploring one of the gullies|
Back near the boat we went up into the shallows and found that there are a number of very large gullies that run back towards the reef. These are a few metres deep and about 5 to 10 metres wide. They extend for 20 or 30 metres, perhaps some go further (you could see them from the boat).
As the top of this reef is about five metres, it is a perfect spot to end your diving doing a long safety stop here.
Despite (probably) not seeing any tiger sharks here, we did see one inside the Great Detached Reef, but only from above the water. Even so, that was pretty exciting.
We dived here in November, the water temperature was about 28ÂșC, visibility about 25. A nice dive site.