West Coast Bird WatchingAuthor: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: April 2007
We went back to another location on the beach at Noon for more snorkeling. This time we saw baby Giant Clams right off. They flinch, and their lips change color, when you swim over them. We came on a big mob of Parrot Fish and other large reef fish feeding on dead coral. Further out we found live coral and a school of small Electric Blue Fish. The visibility was very poor so we decided to head back and try again later once the tide had stopped going out.
We tried snorkeling again at 4pm. We ended up swimming a lot and trashing around some coral, but the visibility wasn't good and the water was either too shallow or too murky to see anything, so we headed back to the resort.
We ate dinner at the resort restaurant. We started with Tomato, Bacon, and Prawn Soup, and Turkish Bread with Feta Cheese and Pesto. My wife had seared Scallops salad with Balsamic Vinegar dressing (Scallops in Australia have more parts to them than in the US). I had the Fillet Steak special on stir-fried Asian Veggies with Garlic Soy sauce. Beautiful!!
On April 5 we tendered out to the Dominator at 9am for Snorkeling with Whale Sharks. There were 8 passengers and 3 crew.
About an hour out of port we stopped for a snorkeling equipment check. Everyone jumped into the water and got out almost as quick -- except us -- we wandered off looking at the seaweeds and ocean fish. When we got back on the boat we could see the 13 ft Tiger Shark that had been close by. No worries -- they feed at night.
A few minutes later the crew spotted a Bull Ray. It looked really big in the water. They said one of these is what killed Steve Irwin.
All during the trip today we saw sea birds -- Fairy Terns close to shore, Common Noddys sitting on channel markers, and Wedge-tailed Shearwater farther out (they run across the water to get air borne).
About 10:30am the Captain got a call from the spotter aircraft that a Blue Whale was about 6 miles ahead of us. The boat went after it at warp speed, but the whale got away. The whales migrate to the tropics this time of year, but are usually 500Km off shore. The Captain said he had only seen one once two years ago -- a Mum and Calf -- the calf was as big as a full-grown Humpback -- the Mum was the length of 3 snorkel boats
We waited in the general area where the Blue Whale had been seen for several hours. The boat had wonderful snacks to keep us amused -- like marinated Egg Plant and an assortment of cheeses.
To pass more time while we were bobbing on the ocean, the crew broke out the fishing gear. They caught a small Sweet Lips, which they used as bait to catch a Robinson's Sea Brim, which they filleted and gave us at the end of the trip.
Lunch was an assortment of salads and cold cuts that the two young female crewmembers had made.
Finally, the call came from the spotter plane - a Whale Shark had been spotted a few Km away. We raced over, along with another snorkeling boat.
We all lined-up on the back of the boat and jumped in when the Whale Shark came swimming by. I was amazed when I jumped in the water, I was practically on top of the Whale Shark -- it captured my entire field of view -- very majestic light brown and covered with spots.
In a flash it disappeared in the murky waters ahead of us. I lost sight of my wife also. We all swam off as fast as we could to get back on the boat for our next go at the Whale Shark.
I guess seeing the Whale Shark took my wife's breath away (or maybe it was the 75F water). When I next saw her, she was holding onto a passenger named John try to catch her breath.
We had 2 more chances to snorkel with the 13 ft female Whale Shark. It always seemed to be swimming into us. On the third try I saw that it had a mob of small fish swimming in front of its mouth. My wife decided to declare victory and rest.
We got back about 4:30pm. The Captain said we had traveled 40 miles today.
When the tender returned from taking the first group to shore, the Captain told everyone to get their snorkel masks on and quietly get in the water for a surprise. When I got in the water I was eye-ball to eye-ball with a 1000 lb Queensland Grouper -- absolutely massive and beautiful.
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