Our 2015 spring cruise second leg was a 100nm night cruise from Bougainville Reef to Osprey Reef.
Dive charters have put Osprey Reef in the spotlight, especially the North Horn dive site with its famous shark-feeding spectacle. We were more interested in the large lagoon, though, and planned to make it our home base for about three weeks. We weren’t disappointed – the lagoon’s main entrance is wide, and a beautiful shallow inner rim of white sand along the south end and up the east side provided a multitude of glorious anchoring opportunities.
Just before we reached the sparkling emerald water, indicating a shallow, sandy bottom, we negotiated the typical smattering of coral heads and little bommies. The surrounds turned out to be fantastic for snorkelling and were chock-full of marine life and healthy hard corals.
We anchored at the south-eastern corner behind a half-kilometre of reef, where the boat sat comfortably even in the brisk trade winds. We soon settled into a languid ‘life in paradise’ routine: snorkelling the crystalline waters of the lagoon, and venturing out to scuba dive the partially sheltered western walls mid-week when there wasn’t much chance of crossing paths with other boats.
We were greeted by an immense swirling vortex of bigeye trevally and it was a thrill to hover at the centre of a grey wall of eyes slowly spinning around us.Bright-red lunar-tailed bigeye fish and a profusion of coral led down to whitetip sharks resting on the white sand. At 17m, the sand spilt over the wall’s edge. It was a perfect place to start our wall dives, with abundant whip coral and gorgonian fans at 25m and plenty of life all the way down to 45m, plus the excitement of whaler sharks and large pelagics patrolling the wall.
Back in the lagoon, we made some friends … lots of them. Each night, the population of common terns calling our boat home grew and soon topped 80 birds. We kept their mess under control by sloshing truck wash around the decks at sunset and blasting the decks with our high- pressure saltwater Rainman in the morning.
When our pet noddy, which had been living in the cockpit, flew off without so much as a thank you, it was time to head back to the Great Barrier Reef. But first we needed to give the boat’s green beard a shave – it’s amazing how quick algae grows on hulls in the warm, clean waters.
- To see more of our images from Osprey reef click here.
- A moderate to severe bleaching even in FNQ may have affected the Coral around Osprey Reef. I am unable to get information but to see a map of coastal surveys to date .click here.
Update January 2017.
- We have just checked out the Coral Bleaching damage at Osprey Reef on our way back from PNG. Inside the lagoon, the majority of Coral is now dead. Outside on the wall, there is also major damage. All a bit sad.
Update January 2018.
- As above the coral in the lagoon is about finished with corresponding loss of marine fish and critters. The wall we checked out was about 50% dead but there was reasonable fish life with a wonderful school of big eye and lots of reef sharks.
To read any of our other stories from cruising the Coral Sea ckick on the below:
Diamond islets click here
Flinders reefs click here
Herald cays click here
Marion Reef click here
Willis Islets click here
Coringa Islets click here
Magdelaine reefs click here
Bougainville Atoll click here
Ashmore Reef click here