It was a beautiful beginning to the day. The waves were blue-green and gently rolling. The sky was clear and bright. As we prepped our dive kits and went through the dive briefing, everyone was relaxed, laughing, and enjoying the morning. Soon we were out on the water heading to Giants Castle Reef. As we neared the drop sight we spotted two Humpback whales very close to where the reef is located. This started the energy on the boat buzzing. After everyone kitted up and we went through the safety check, we counted down 3-2-1 and were in the water. Once at depth, I was surprised to see that the visibility was close to 20 meters. Recently the visibility had been about half this good so it was a pleasant surprise. Everyone signaled that all was okay and we started exploring the reef. The current was mild and traveling in the same direction as we were so allowed for a nice drift style dive.
Almost ten minutes into our bottom time, I looked up and nearly jumped out of my suit when I recognized the Bowmouth Guitar Shark that was swimming towards me! I had been wanting to see one for the past six weeks I had been diving here but this was the first one I actually spotted. He swam past and started to turn away and leave, but I remained patient and did not chase after him. That is when he turned and swam back past me, allowing for a perfect picture. Watching him swim off into the blue felt very peaceful. I was so happy that I had finally seen a Guitar Shark that I was squirming while I swam! Being one of my last diving days, I couldn't believe my luck.
Less than two minutes later, the second surprise came swimming over the reef. It was the Smalleye Stingray, the largest of the stingrays and one of the most rare! I could not believe my eyes! To see both of these wonderful creatures withing minutes of each other was more than I could have ever imagined. As I was taking pictures of it swimming past, I was in awe.
You could sense everyones excitement as we ended the dive a few minutes later. As we started to ascend in the water column, we watched a huge school of Kingfish in a whirlpool type formation. It was beautiful to see them moving in unison and incredible to see such a large number of fish all together.
Soon we reached our safety stop and paused for the three minute interval. About half way through, I looked up to see a friend moving forward to take a picture of something behind me. I turned to see a large pod of Bottlenose dolphins swimming past! My camera had fallen asleep so I struggled to get it working before they disappeared into the blue. Then I continued to turn in the water and looked down. I couldn't help but recoiled when I realized that there were two Humpback whales swimming just behind this pod of dolphins! But then I looked down and realized that there were two more whales just underneath my fins! It is an incredible feeling to see these animals while you yourself are submerged into their own environment. Words cannot express.
|Bowmouth Guitar Shark|
|Shadows of Bottlenose dolphins|
|Looking just a tad bit excited!|