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Me diving

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Australia: Lizard Island and Inside Out

View from Lizard Island Beach
On Thursday, we went to Lizard Island, and got a new bunch of passengers for the second half of the week.  I thought this was kind of a waste of half of a day.  It's not that I mind spending half a day doing something on shore on a one week liveaboard, but it was more like a two hour shore activity, which blew more than half of the day.  We still had to get up at the usual early hour, we went ashore, walk around on the beach, did the little hike over to the airstrip, and then Rob and I rode back on the tender to the boat, where we had a few hours to kill before the next batch of people came aboard, got their briefing, filled out paperwork, etc.  And then of course the first dive was a "checkout dive" (for everyone else), which I assume limits the choice of dive sites.  This is one reason it would be vastly superior to be on the boat with a group that is all there for a week.

A lizard
Anyhoo, so we got up, had breakfast, and then headed to Lizard Island on the tenders.  I wasn't really sure what the best footwear would be (and really got no guidance at all on this from the crew), since we were landing on the beach, but then we'd be doing a little hiking.  So most people (including me) wore flip-flops or the like, and a few wore socks and shoes and then as we landed on the beach, they had to deal with that in a hurry.  In hindsight, the optimal choice would have been no shoes on the tender, with a small bag containing sneakers.  We wandered down the long stretch of beach where we landed, and then re-grouped for the hike to the airstrip.  You go over a big hill, which has some nice lookout points, but the hike is really not too strenuous, so flip-flops were okay.  We eventually got to a little pavilion area by the beach, where we had some sandwiches.  While we were there, we did see one lizard, scurrying around outside of the pavilion.  The tender arrived at the beach right by the pavilion, and Rob and I rode back to the boat, while everyone else waited for the plane.  A couple of the crew members also swapped out, including the captain.

View from lookout point at top of Lizard Island
We got back to the boat and were told we had a couple of hours to kill.  I asked if we could snorkel off the back of the boat, and was told no (surprise surprise).  So we killed some time, more passengers arrived, we killed some more time while they got briefed at, and then eventually lunch was served.  Lunch was a hodge podge of soup, salads, sandwich materials and nachos.  At some point, we were told that we would not be making an attempt to cross to Osprey Reef that night, because the conditions were too rough.  We would instead make an attempt the following day, which would give us one day at Osprey Reef instead of two.  So that meant we had a day and a half in the vicinity of Lizard Island (Ribbon Reefs 9 and 10).

We went to a dive site called "Inside Out".  Once we got there, the mooring was found to be broken, so we had to wait quite a while for that to be fixed. We were told there was no current, but found quite a strong current. There is a wall from less than 20' to about 50' , then a sand slope to 60ish, then another wall down to about 100'. We started out near the bottom, on the lower wall, in hopes of seeing some big stuff off of the wall, though we did not succeed. Swimming into that current at 90' was a bit unpleasant. I basically spent the whole time trying to find little bits of reef sticking out that I could hide behind to get out of the current (it reminded me of diving at Ginnie :P)  This made photos pretty hard. We came up shallower for the drift back. Overall this was not the prettiest site, especially compared to the sites we'd been to the day before.  The most remarkable thing were some big green fan-shaped coral formations and some nice sea fans at the bottom. I did find three nudibranchs though!  They were nudis we saw in Philippines (and maybe Fiji) so they don't count in Rob's book :P

We had dinner before the night dive, which was a tasty fish, Barramundi, which I don't think I've had before. It tasted and had a similar texture to crab meat. Yum. It was served with potatoes and a really tasty roasted veggie medley. We also had dessert before the dive, which was pavlova. I don't think I've actually had that before; it was really good.

The night dive was at the same site.  With our nudibranch finds on the last dive, we were hopeful about our macro prospects, and we were not disappointed. Rob found some pretty good nudis. Overall, it wasn't a super productive macro dive, but it was a lot of fun looking for stuff!  Rob managed to find some new-to-us nudibranchs, so they even count :P  After the night dive, there was wine and TV in the lounge.  We spent the night back by Lizard Island, so it was nice and calm.

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