For thirty years I made annual cruises out into Australia's Coral Sea aboard a variety of dive cruisers. Our favorite targets were Osprey Reef in the North out of Cairns or Port Douglas, or Marion Reef in the South, reached from Rockhampton or Townsville.
In those early years I considered those Coral Sea reefs to be among the very best diving areas in the world both for the big animal population and the brilliant clarity of the water.
This was diving at completely isolated oceanic atolls far from the mainland. To get out to Marion was two overnights and 300 miles. The diving had to be awfully good for divers to accept the pounding they took on some of those crossings.
The marine life out there had never been dived or fished, and it was rich and varied. We found huge nurse sharks and cat sharks lying about on the sandy bottom between the huge coral pinnacles regularly.
The gray sharks, easy to lure to feedings at North Horn at Osprey or Action Point at Marion Reef, brought thrilling, cannon-shot melees for divers who had never before seen sharks. It was wild diving, and the photographs became classics.
For many of the divers, it was also the first time in the water with sea snakes. The snakes had a terrible reputation from biting fishermen who brought them up in their nets (“You die in 90 seconds!”), but in the ocean they lay about sleeping all day, and when awakened were curious, frisky and harmless. Another terrifying sea story debunked.
Here's a brief story about the diving and a YouTube show on the cruise out to Marion Reef.
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