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Lady Musgrave Is, Split Bommie

Saturday, 17 August 2002 | link | tag | / Diving / Australia / QLD - Great Barrier Reef
We’d gone inside the lagoon at Lady Musgrave Island to a spot just inside the entrance – Split Bommie. The bommie was just about breaking the surface, so prior to this dive we went over to look at it with only a snorkel. We were keen to have a look around at the base now, after we’d seen the caves and swim-through’s it offered.

The boat lay in around 10 meters of water, and was a stones throw from two bommies, the one we’d just looked at, split bommie, and another not far away. Tracey had also told us about a small bommie off to the right of the main one which was home to a large black moray eel. This clinched it, we’d take in all the bommies, ending with the moray eel.

We didn’t spend too long at split bommie, as we’d seen most of it snorkelling. We did a couple of laps around the base, and swam through the splits. We also had a quick foray into the cave at the bottom of the bommie. Inside the cave, Tim spotted a shark, and indicated as much to us. Knowing that usually the only sharks that live in caves are wobbygongs, I went back in very carefully, not able to see what he was talking about. I came back out for more clarification and found out there was another chamber off to the right. Back inside I saw what all the fuss was about – a largish white tip reef shark having a wee nap on the bottom in the safety of a cave.

We left the split bommie and headed for the other smaller bommie to the rear of the boat. It was covered in green sponges and stag horn coral, and surrounded by large fish. I spotted a nudibranch at the bottom of the bommie, and spent some time try to get a photo of it.

This bommie also had numerous giant clams here and there, also in all sorts of colours. These clams seem to be light sensitive, each time I put the light on one, it would retract its mantle and close slightly…

We then headed off to where we thought the moral eel would be, and found a tiny bommie. We had a good look around, but could see no sign. It was not a disappointment, however, because nearby was a huge potato cod, easily the largest fish I’ve ever seen. He would have been easily 1.5 meters long. An absolutely mammoth fish. He swam off as we got closer.

An excellent dive.The boat had been moved in closer to Lady Musgrave Island for the night, as we weren’t able to make it to Lady Elliot Island due to the weather. Tracy was taking James on a navigation dive for his coarse at this spot, and we’re were going to have the night dive here. I was keen to dive again, and Jason wasn’t feeling the best and opted out.

I went mainly to check out the area so that I knew what to expect for the night dive – it would be good to get the lay of the land.

I didn’t take the camera, as it would be a distraction to my goal of remembering where everything was. I also didn’t have a buddy as such for the dive, rather I just stayed within vision of Tracey and James. This was a good experience because of the freedom it allowed.

We saw a green turtle, half asleep. He must have been finding a spot to settle down for the night because after we disturbed him, he went straight back to where he was. I made note of this spot, and others like it – we were more than certainly likely to have a turtle on the night dive.

On the way back to the boat, we saw a black lionfish crossing the sand. It was juvenile, and quite small. It had streamer like fins coming from the tips of its spins. It looked like a Chinese dragon moving slowly across the sand.

Just before the end of the dive, two manta rays passed overhead quite quickly. They must have been on a mission, perhaps finding a spot for the night. Jason was up for the night dive, and quite keen. I imagine because the previous night dive he had to go with the instructor (his first night dive).

This time we did our own thing. It was definitely worthwhile doing the orientation dive on this site earlier in the afternoon. I new precisely where all the spots I wanted to look at were. We took in several of the spots I though might house turtles, and found that they did in fact have turtles in them. I took a few quick photo’s of these lovely creatures, trying very carefully to not disturb them. I did unfortunately wake one up and he swam off, but he soon returned to bed after we concealed the lights.

We also saw a couple of biig moon wrasse under big pieces of plate coral, lots of sea urchins. The sea urchins on the reef have much longer spines than their Sydney cousins, and are less numerous.

I’m very happy with the Alpha light as a night dive light. Its more than enough light, in fact I had to partially cover it most times to prevent it spooking the fish.