Simply offshore of Queensland, the Nice Barrier Reef stretches out alongside Australia’s coast like an excellent beacon for underwater fanatics. It's the largest dwelling factor on Earth, and may even be seen from area! With greater than 2,900 reefs and 900 islands, the Nice Barrier Reef boasts one of many richest marine environments on the planet. Whereas there are definitely well-known dive websites all through the Nice Barrier Reef (like these 8 Top Dive Sites of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef), there are nonetheless so many hidden dive websites but to be explored.
Introducing Johnny Gaskell
Johnny Gaskell is Daydream Island’s Grasp Reef Information and resident Marine Biologist within the Whitsunday Islands. You additionally may know him because the man that discovered an enormous blue hole in 2017. During the last two years, Johnny, a PADI Divemaster has visited greater than 200 lesser-known reef websites within the Nice Barrier Reef Marine Park, on a private mission to journey the size of the Nice Barrier Reef surveying its well being. After his newest expeditions in 2020, he introduced his prime 10 dive websites on Queensland’s Nice Barrier Reef. Notice: this isn't an inventory of world famend reef websites, however somewhat a unprecedented record of lesser-known reefs. For those who’re trying to discover past the favored Nice Barrier Reef dive websites, that is for you!
When requested concerning the undertaking general, Johnny stated, “In 2020, I visited 35 reefs to conduct reef well being surveys as a part of the Grasp Reef Information program, run by the Nice Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Tourism & Occasions Queensland, the Nice Reef Census, and private dive expeditions. On these journeys, I discovered some superb, comparatively unknown websites which have been the inspiration to create my private prime 10 record. Clearly, the rating is subjective, however it takes into consideration coral cowl, basic reef well being and disturbance of the websites. In all instances, it was clear that these reefs have been underneath some stress, however there have been nonetheless some fairly unimaginable sections in relation to coral cowl and variety of marine life. That’s precisely what motivates me to proceed exploring.”
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Crystal Blue Gap, Yeppoon (Capricorn Coast)
Johnny Gaskell: “My primary reef website from my newest expeditions must be Crystal Blue Gap, a small reef with an ideal lagoon anchorage proper subsequent to a 45 meter deep Blue Gap. The location is 270 kilometers offshore from Yeppoon and a part of the Swains Reef Nationwide Park. For me, it doesn’t get any higher. Inside the opening there's coral cowl throughout the sting, then a steep drop down into the Blue. You possibly can’t even see the underside.”
Elisabeth Reef, The Whitsundays
Johnny Gaskell: “On the outer fringe of the Nice Barrier Reef Marine Park within the Whitsundays (roughly 110 kilometers north of the Whitsunday Islands) sits Elisabeth Reef. The water right here is crystal clear with hundreds of fish zooming across the reef. This website has significantly excessive coral cowl, notably on the reef edge. As much as 100 % in some elements, which is excellent and makes it certainly one of my favorite dive websites. It's really some of the unimaginable coral habitats I've ever seen.”
Secret Reef, The Whitsundays
Johnny Gaskell: “Secret Reef is a spectacular system of lagoons with very excessive coral and fish variety. It’s very delicate however an unimaginable ecosystem not too removed from one of many extra well-liked dive websites within the Whitsundays. Not able to reveal the situation of this specific reef but, it’s all the time good to maintain a secret or two. I encourage individuals to take a look at my Instagram account @johnny_gaskell for updates.”
Briggs Reef, Cairns (Tropical North Queensland)
Johnny Gaskell: “Briggs Reef is a smaller reef sitting snugly between the bigger Moore and Sudbury Reefs close to Fitzroy Island off the coast of Cairns. I used to be blown away by the number of coral on the reef partitions and bommies. In comparison with different websites, Briggs Reef has a really excessive onerous coral cowl and we noticed a couple of turtles and small sharks. The location was an actual shock to me. Being so near Cairns, it’s an amazing spot for novice or superior divers.”
Tiger Reef, Bowen (The Whitsundays)
Johnny Gaskell: “Tiger Reef is a semi-exposed reef east off the coast of Bowen within the Whitsundays, proper subsequent to Kangaroo Reef. We have been excited to go to Tiger Reef as a result of firstly – it’s referred to as Tiger Reef – and secondly, it's near the trail Cyclone Debbie took in 2017, so we have been very to see if the protected aspect nonetheless had coral cowl. We have been relieved to seek out that it was in nice situation and had barely any cyclone injury.”
Fitzroy Reef, Nice Keppel Island (Capricorn Coast)
Johnny Gaskell: “Fitzroy Reef is the most important of 22 reefs that type the Capricorn and Bunker teams within the Southern Nice Barrier Reef. This space is in style with divers and snorkelers as a result of the reef types a hoop round a big, deep lagoon that gives safety and anchorage factors. This specific lagoon, it's a tremendous mild blue shade with reefs scattered all through. The spotlight is the coral slopes close to the channel entry to the lagoon. The slopes are utterly coated in tightly compacted numerous exhausting corals with plenty of fish life, notably parrotfish. It jogs my memory of a few of the spectacular websites proper up on the prime of the Nice Barrier Reef, close to Raine Island.”
Unnamed Reef, Yeppoon (Capricorn Coast)
Johnny Gaskell: “This little gem is a part of the Swains Reef Nationwide Park – a big assortment of small reefs, most of that are unnamed. Unnamed reefs may be situated with the assistance of the reference maps offered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). The GBRMPA refence for this specific reef is 21-227. It's situated roughly 280 kilometers offshore Yeppoon. This specific reef has spectacular swim throughs, caves and coral cowl which are inhabited by a excessive variety of fish species and some species of pleasant sharks. The underwater topography at this website is unbeatable with dramatic partitions and gutters for deep swim throughs.”
Kangaroo Reef, Bowen (The Whitsundays)
Johnny Gaskell: “Kangaroo Reef (East) sits inside a protected inexperienced zone offshore from the small seaside city of Bowen on the prime of the Whitsundays area. The reef has a channel operating by means of its center, making a spectacular drop-off. The coral cowl, vertical partitions and fish life at Kangaroo Reef are unimaginable. There's a quick present operating by means of the channel which is nice for coral progress as this retains the floor temperatures well-mixed and cooler in summer time whereas additionally delivering meals to marine life within the type of plankton.”
Little Baron Reef, Yeppoon (Capricorn Coast)
Johnny Gaskell: “Little Baron Reef is one in every of over 500 separate coral reefs inside the Swains Reef Nationwide Park, situated simply 200 kilometers off the coast of Yeppoon. The reef right here is usually exhausting coral and in nice situation with spectacular drop-offs. We additionally noticed an enormous loggerhead sea turtle which was superb. In winter, it isn't uncommon to see humpback whales within the waters round these reefs as they supply a protected and calm calving floor.”
Sudbury Reef, Cairns (Tropical North Queensland)
Johnny Gaskell: “Sudbury Reef is tucked behind Fitzroy Island off the coast of Cairns in Tropical North Queensland with an attractive white sand cay at its northern finish. From steep drop offs to shallow clam gardens – Sudbury Reef gives quite a lot of snorkel and dive spots. This reef is totally different than a lot of the different reefs I visited final yr. It's dominated by gentle coral and has a really excessive variety of parrot fish and mullet which reminds me of the Whitsundays. The marine life right here is unimaginable and one thing you’d anticipate to see at a lot deeper dive websites often.”
Able to Dive In?
These prime 10 hidden dive websites, together with the unimaginable array of already recognized Nice Barrier Reef dive websites, are positive to make any diver lengthen their bucket record. Whether or not you’re fortunate sufficient to name Australia residence, otherwise you’re trying to plan your subsequent dive vacation to the Nice Barrier Reef, listed here are 4 assets that will help you take advantage of your underwater adventures: