Postcards from the minke whale expedition pt 4

By Andrew Burns 7 November 2013
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AG creative director blogs about his time aboard the minke whale research expedition.

IN THE LAST DAYS, we head to a dive site called the Cod Hole, which is a two-hour boat ride from Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

Valerie and Ron Tylor discovered the Cod hole in 1971 and, as they told us in a talk the evening before visiting the famous evening dive site, its subsequent protection was the start of the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which has expanded considerably since. 

When we arrive at the Cod Hole my ears are a little sensitive from the dive the day before so I decide sit it out the 6:45 am dive and take the second dive later in the day. When I get in the water later on, my ears feel fine so I descend to 10 meters, where the world of the Cod Hole opens before me.

I could see the potato cod that Valerie had talked about the evening before. These fish are actually groupers but as with so many Australian fish that were named by Europeans – like the coral trout and blue grouper (which is actually a wrasse) – they have nothing in common with the Northern Hemisphere species they are named after.

We also see a couple of reef sharks and the coral, as always, is stunning.

After lunch the engines are started and we head east back towards Challenger Reef and the dive site Gothham City, where we expect to see some minkes again. The wind is 24 knots and it’s a bumpy two-hour ride. We don’t spot any animals on our way.

The number of minkes is not known but research has shown a steady population with similar numbers returning each year to this part of the Great Barrier Reef. The animals are not considered endangered or under threat, but between 400 and 1000 are taken by Japanese research vessels each year, although no useful information seems to be garnered from this unnecessary slaughter.