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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Lady Musgrave Island

It turned out our Tiger Shark experience in the Swains was not the last of our "scary creature" encounters!

For our second dive at Frederick Reef after the anchor snubber retrieval, we placed the anchor next to a coral "bommie" with a plan to capture more fish and coral photos in the phenomenally clear water. This, of course involved our swimming the length of the anchor chain [some seventy meters] both at the start and at the end of the dive in order to access the interesting coral formation.  These long swims led to Mary Anne's snake story.

Larry also seemed to act as a huge attraction to a snake-like being which slithered (sideways - like snakes can) all the way up to us from the sand 40 feet below. Alas - after a 40minute dive, it spotted us swimming back to the boat and slithered all the way up towards us again ... it was just like one of those horrible 'repeating' nightmares. It went right between Larry's arm and BCD. He kept trying to repel it - it bit his fin several times. But no harm done. When we got back and checked through all our books we realized that it was probably a stripey 'Harlequin Snake-Eel' ... these are harmless (as opposed to all the actual snakes in Australia - all of which can kill you!). We think something about Larry's long, sleek, black neoprene-covered body may have attracted her during Snake Mating Season.

Thinking that if it moves like a snake and looks like a snake, there might be a vague possibility that it actually IS a snake, we hatched a slightly different plan for our subsequent dives.  We anchored roughly a chain length upwind of the target coral patch and let out chain until we lay directly above our dive site.  This had the merit of shortening considerably any exit swim we felt compelled to initiate.

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After Frederick Reef, we planned to visit Lady Musgrave Island.  From previous visits, we had fond memories of Lady Musgrave  and wanted to finish our Coral Sea diving both inside and outside its calm coral-fringed lagoon.  Added benefits would be to split the sail back to the coast into two segments and a chance to sight-see on the island.  Not having done any walking for a couple of weeks, this was a big draw.

A fair wind springing up led to a dawn departure from Frederick, a fast overnight sail the two hundred miles to Musgrave and an afternoon arrival into the smooth [at least compared to Frederick] waters of the lagoon.

Underwater Lady Musgrave represented the least satisfying of our Coral Sea diving.  The visibility outside the reef was better than inside but probably suffered more from following on the heels of pristine Frederick Reef than from any objective reality.  And we did see the largest scorpion fish of our Australia visit and our only crown-of-thorns sea star!


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