North Island - Dive Report March 2011

Apr 4, 2011 North Island
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March has been yet another great diving month with numerous sightings of the usual suspects and some new ones. The conditions have been great and while the sea has not always been calm, the visibility has been fantastic.

Sprat City was a particularly interesting reef over the last several months. Our first visitor was a giant nurse shark, well in excess of 2.5 metres, It was spotted hiding in the shallow caves to the south of the reef. This is normally white-tip reef shark territory but there were far fewer adult white tips than usual in March.

Apart from the shark sightings, we have also recently had great views of octopus and hawksbill turtles on the same reef. One turtle in particular was repeatedly spotted both hiding away in the caves and roaming over the rest of the reef in search of food, although it has since moved off.

We have again spotted a small hawksbill turtle near the cliffs around West Beach bar. This turtle seems to prefer this particular location and has been spotted here on several occasions. This spot is also great for snorkelling and apart from the chance of a turtle sighting, there were also numerous schools of blue-banded snappers, wave trevally and the passing flash of the ever determined lunar fusiliers.

A unique sighting this month was that of a brindle bass spotted on a dive at Cathedral on Silhouette Island. This particular species is the largest bony fish found on coral reefs and it can grow as large as 2.7 metres long, weighing up to 600kg. They feed on a variety of larger marine life, including small sharks and juvenile turtles. They are fairly common in shallow waters and are also traditionally territorial although we have not previously spotted this individual, or any others for that matter, on any of our reefs.

A further fantastic March sighting was of a school of over 200 reef squid while on a snorkel trip to Aquarium. Reef squid are known to communicate using a variety of colour, shape, and texture changes and in addition to using these techniques for camouflage, they also use them in courtship. Reef squid also have the remarkable ability to send one message via colour patterns to a squid on their right, while they send another message to another individual on their left.

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