North Island - Dive Report December 2010

Jan 24, 2011 North Island
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December has been yet another interesting month with regards to the weather, however as 2010 neared to an end we were blessed with calm seas and great visibility. The main beach remains a landscape of contrasts with shifting formations of continually accumulating sand and the ever changing waters that caress her shore.

Diving this month has been no less than fantastic, made all that much more mesmerising by the gin-clear water visibility. Several dive sites have been explored including Cathedral and Pat Banks - both of which have not disappointed and have produced their own special array of exciting experiences. At Cathedral we had a particularly exciting time with a certain inquisitive barracuda and an elusive resident family of enormous round ribbontail rays; spotted as if in a trance as we effortlessly glided past them.

We also spotted large barracuda near the jump rock at West Beach and at Petit Anse. The specimen at Petit Anse was even more engaging than our friend at Cathedral. Rather than slowly following the divers around the reef, he was observed dashing right up to unsuspecting divers or snorkelers and as soon as it came eye-to-eye with its intruder became perfectly motionless and watched it with unblinking intensity - needless to say, quite exhilarating. Coincidentally this sighting marked a sudden end to the snorkelling trip with the excuse that it was getting rather cold out there.

Sprat City has also been a favourite this month with numerous sightings of the white-tip reef sharks, several sightings of a nurse shark (also known as a giant sleepy shark) as well as a particularly large green turtle spotted sleeping in a cave.

Coral Gardens, not to be outdone, has produced a team of unusually determined orbicular batfish which have been particularly fascinated the divers and have been spotted following the group for the entire duration of the dive.

Yet again, numerous spotted eagle rays have been seen off Main Beach and at Petit Anse and a small group of four sub-adults have also been spotted cruising off the rock ledges West Beach. These younger rays will remain at the reef for only a little while longer before gathering enough courage to venture out into deeper unchartered waters. Once they have left they only occasionally return to the reef, for short infrequent visits.

A fantastic sighting this month has been of a small family of bottlenose dolphins together with young on a dive trip to Silhouette. The dolphins were spotted both on the way to the dive site and again on the way back. While they are usually a little sceptical of getting too close to the boat or the divers, these dolphins insisted on staying with us for almost half the trip there and back.

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