Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

The Coral Sea

Posted from Bouganville Reef, Coral Sea at 1:58 am, June 4th, 2024

Today was four dives at Bouganville Reef in the Coral Sea, but not just any four dives – two of the dives were at a site called Middle Earth, and one was at Dungeons & Dragons. I’m not sure who gets to name the dive sites, but my hope is that a bunch of geeks were the first ones to dive Bouganville Reef and thus earned naming rights, and while I don’t know the names of the other sites at the reef, I’ll just assume that there’s a “Gandalf’s Beard”, “Hobbit Hole” and “Balrog Bommie” somewhere out there.

Like Osprey Reef (which we dove yesterday), Bouganville Reef is an extinct volcano that is totally isolated out in the middle of the ocean east of the Great Barrier Reef. When I looked out of the window this morning, the only indicators that we weren’t in open ocean were a few breaking waves way off in the distance, and the remnants of a ship that wrecked here more than fifty years ago visible on the near horizon. We jumped in at 7am today with clear, beautiful purple water dropping 800m into the depths below us, then dove along the very steep reef wall before ending in the shallows. Despite all of the coral bleaching and other reef issues going on around the world, these remote sites seem to be completely healthy, with all manner of colorful corals covering the terrain. Since we are out in open ocean it’s also a good spot for big oceanic visitors, and while I haven’t seen any visiting fish besides tuna, another group had a manta ray appear out of the blue during their dive yesterday.

Despite really choppy seas while we’ve been motoring overnight between reefs (there have been plenty of empty seats at dinner), we’ve apparently been lucky with the weather – the captain says he usually only gets one winter trip each year that’s able to visit all three of their Coral Sea destinations – Osprey Reef, Bouganville Reef and Holmes Reef (tomorrow’s destination) – so after our three days on the Great Barrier Reef we’re also getting to see all of the highlights of the Coral Sea. Four dives a day is a LOT, but it’s also really neat to get so much time underwater in a completely alien world with fish that seem curious about the awkward bald thing floating by them.

Clownfish, Coral Sea

Clownfish posing in the Coral Sea.

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