Friday, April 17, 2009

And back into the water - Exmouth

We've been in Exmouth for 4 nights now. And that's probably enough. After our adventures in the bush over the Easter Long Weekend it was very nice to pull in for a Brumbies pie and a hot shower. There's also a book exchange which I was in desperate need of as I'd exhausted our travel library. I've now stocked up on Patricia Cornwell which we have both got right into although we are reading them out of order which drives Andy nuts.It's also an excellent spot for all the scuba we wanted to do being so close to the Ningaloo Reef, Muiron Islands and the Navy Pier.
*Andy about to giant stride into a dive at the Muirons.
*Pretty fan coral at the Muirons - my experience of coral is that this stuff is usually found much deeper then the 20m we descended to. It was everywhere and in all colours.
*2 nudibranchs - don't have my "1001 nudibranch" guidebook so can't ID these little guys.

We've had 2 days diving and one day "free time"where Payniac has been in the office and I've been domestic goddess applying some new ideas to our eternally tainted water problem (we're trying milton baby bottle disinfectant). We will also restock here before heading back into the national parks. The weather has improved - we've had a couple of days overcast and cool (33C - it's very relative people!), so we'll head back into the northern section of Cape Range NP which is right on Ningaloo Marine Park - so we should have some beaut snorkelling opportunities in the days ahead.

*Coral garden.
*Another nudibranch - I told you I loved them
*Not a nudibranch, scuba-Andy

On wednesday we did a full day trip to the Muiron Islands with a real mixed bag of punters - snorkellers, little kids, professional underwater photographers, scuba courses and us. The diving is just stunning with the greatest coral coverage I've seen. As far as you could see it was like a paddock of coral gardens, both hard and soft corals. The Muirons are not renowned for their fishiness but the colourful invertebrate life more than makes up for it. And for the record the water is a balmy 29C.

Today we did two dives on the Navy Pier. This was a pretty big deal for me as the pier was closed to divers last time I was here and I'd wanted to dive it then. The navy pier was built by the US navy so that they could ship in all their secret squirrel radio transmitters (the tallest of which is the third tallest structure in the southern hemisphere FYI, our guide had no idea what #1 & #2 were) to Exmouth. There are conspiracy theories and concerns about radiation surrounding the almost deserted base that now houses the Ausssie Feds. It was all very high security to get into the base to dive the pier, IDs checked by a man in uniform with a gun!
*Payniac multi tasking, mask clearing and controlled descent. Very nice!

It is considered a shore dive and the entry requires a giant stride from a platform about 2m above the waterline at high tide.
After all the excitement of getting there and getting in it was awesome to stick my head under and see all the fish, just everywhere.

*Nudibranch moneyshot - I love the colours in this photo. You have to remember that most of the colourful things here are animals, very simple ones, but still animals.

A fantastic days diving. Like fish soup, and big-fish soup too. Barracuda, trevally, sharks and squillions of little fish. We saw morays and octpus. We just wove our way between and through the pylons looking at all the life - I could have stayed down all day but due to the location there are strict regulations so our bottom times were limited to 50 minutes per dive.
*Barracuda wall paper. These were just little ones, probably about a meter and they have big sharp menacing teeth and plenty of attitude.


*A moray posing for me.

*Big boy under the pier, a potato cod or queensland grouper. The area under and around the navy pier is a sanctuary so there's no fishing. This is the reason there are so many different kinds of fish, so many fish and why they're so big.

* A beautiful sea anemone. From tentacle tip to tentacle tip I'd say it was about 50cm, and really pretty soft colurs.

*Not a nudibranch, this is a flatworm, which also come in may different flavours. They look a bit like pieces of ribbon and are often free swimming.

*The biggest and fattest white tip reef sharks we've ever seen. There were quite a few around but they're pretty lazy in the day time unless some pesky diver tries to get them to shift for a better photo opportunity. I leave them be, despite what everyone says they still have a mouthful of sharp teeth and they're 2m+.

And so ends the diving for this leg of the trip unless something unexpected pops up as we're headed into proper crocodile territory - as opposed to phony crocodile territory where we are now. It always takes us a few weeks to find our legs after a hiatus and I think we're back in the swing of things now and ready for some adventures. It's been a great opportunity to get the maps out and start looking at the next few months as we venture into the great unknown for us. We're both very, very excited about the Gibb River Road but like us you'll have to wait.

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