Fly Dive Dwarf Minke Whale Expeditions | 3/4/7 Nights | June July Only | MBMinke
Fly Dive Dwarf Minke Whale Expeditions | 3/4/7 Nights | June July Only | MBMinke
Between the months of May to July a very special event happens on the Great Barrier Reef in Far North Queensland Australia. It is the only event of its kind in the world and is so rare that it was only recognised in the 1980’s – the visiting of the elusive Dwarf Minke Whales. This is a rare opportunity for divers and snorkelers to come to the only place where you can see this once in a lifetime natural spectacular. Australian Traveller Magazine named this Minke Whale interaction on the Great Barrier Reef as one of the most “Incredible Travel Secrets in Australia”. Whoops! The secret is now out. Dwarf Minke Whales are very similar to Minke Whales, but are slightly smaller, hence their tag “Dwarf”. Though, if dwarfs were measured as 8 metres long and weighing up to five tons then “giant dwarfs” might be nearer the description. These curious, gentle and amazing animals come to the warmer waters of the Great Barrier Reef at this time to feed on lantern fish, krill and other crustaceans and small fish. It is not unknown to have populations of 100 or more feeding and cruising off the ribbon reefs of the Great Barrier Reef around this time. They are naturally curious and seem to enjoy their human friends and will approach boats and snorkelers spending hours with divers and snorkellers. It is this natural desire to interact that has enabled local diving and snorkelling operators to organise Dwarf Minke Whale dive and snorkel tours. Being in the water with these gentle giants is truly remarkable. You’ll never forget looking into the eyes of these amazing creatures as they gently approach and gracefully glide past you. You will realise how privileged you are to share the ocean with such beautiful animals and it truly is a humbling and almost life changing experience.
Fly Dive Dwarf Minke Whale Expeditions | 3/4/7 Nights | June July Only | MBMinke
3/4/7 Night, Fly/Dive Dwarf Minke Whale Expeditions– MBMinke
Minke Whales Expeditions only operates in June and July.
These unforgettable close-up Dwarf Minke Whale experiences can be enjoyed by both divers and snorkellers. The itinerary of this amazing adventure will be dictated by the Dwarf Minke activity and proximity of the key dive sites so allowing the best utilisation of time.
Your vessel for this adventure is the most highly awarded dive liveaboard vessel in the country. This well-appointed luxury dive liveaboard is your home and the expedition is offered to divers over 12 years (inclusive) with a minimum age of 8 years old.
To ensure the best safety for divers and snorkelers and the Dwarf Minke Whales, all interactions with these animals are strictly governed by clear rules from the Australian Government. Once a pod of Minke Whales has been spotted the boat will stop its engines and everyone will jump into the water with their snorkelling gear. There is a floating cast line that runs from the boat that allows people to hold on. The Dwarf Minke Whales can be a little nervous around scuba divers and moving snorkelers, but will approach with no trepidation quiet snorkelers hanging quietly on the surface and will get very close as they curiously pass by. They even come right up close and spy hop amongst you and take a close look at the humans hanging onto the ropes.
All guests will also be involved in helping to research and gain information on these elusive creatures. Whale observations and photographs are all valuable resources in helping to update the Dwarf Minke Whale database.
When not snorkelling with the whales, you will still have a whale of a time diving the amazing dive sites on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The reefs off off Tropical Far North Queensland are some of the most pristine reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Due to less coastal settlements and farming by man there has been less impact on the reefs.
On all expeditions a James Cook University Minke Whale Project researcher will be present to help with questions and to inform guests on these amazing animals.
Dwarf Minke Whales
As mentioned previously, dwarf is a rather a relative term for an animal that can grow up to 8 metres long and weigh several tonnes.
An average interaction with the Dwarf Minke Whales consists of around 2-3 whales for around 90 minutes or longer. Some of the best encounters to date was a Minke Pod of 28 whales with an encounter that lasted for 10 hours. It has to be remembered that these are wild animals and this isn’t a Disney theme park. Past successes do not guarantee any future successes, so your trip really will be a case of seeing what happens.
Research on the Dwarf Minke Whale is continuous. There are only two known species of Minke Whales, the slightly larger Antarctic Minke and the North Atlantic Minke. It is thought that the Dwarf Minkes, and the ones that visit the Great Barrier Reef are related to the North Atlantic Minke, or is an unknown species.
Liveaboard Dive Boat Itinerary:
Arrival on the boat will be for 6pm in the evening. The boat will leave Cairns and travel through the night to reach the first dive site for the morning.
Aside from finding and swimming with the amazing Dwarf Minkes you will also be able to dive some of the top dive sites in the world around Osprey Reef and surrounding Ribbon Reefs.
The northerly part of the Great Barrier Reef in Tropical Far North Queensland is the most pristine area of the reef. With few commercial dive operations visiting here and and little human settlement on the land off of Cape Tribulation the reefs are less impacted by any human intervention or pollution.
Arrival back by boat will be on Thursday morning at 8.00 am after leaving the last dive site on Wednesday night.
For people flying back they will be taken to Lizard Island, where they are then able to explore and take the plane back to Cairns.
Yes, Code Hole is aptly named as the place where you will see Cod and is the most famous dive site on the Great Barrier Reef. The Potato Cod at Cod Hole are the size of a diver (and larger) and can reach up to 8.5 feet and weigh in up to 110 kilograms (240 pounds). These curious fish are used to divers and are very used to being photographed (if they had their own phone they would be the ‘selfie’ fish of the Pacific). Other dive friendly big fish are the Maori Wrasse (other names – Napolean and Humphead Wrasse). The Maori Wrasse are another dive sized fish that can reach up to 2 metres long and weigh up to 180 kg, but typically most you see will be around 1 metre long. These are listed as endangered, but are protected in the area. They will follow divers around sometimes like little puppies and are inquisitive of divers.
This is great dive for the photgraphers – so make sure you have a wide angled lens – so you can get in all the action.
Other marine life at Cod Hole includes anemones, giant clams, Solomon’s sweetlip, feather stars, cruising white tip reef sharks and plenty of cleaning stations.
Shark Alley is another great photo opportunity and is aptly named after its residents here – the Reef Sharks. They love to laze in the sand in the gulley for protection. They are too lazy to move so photographers can get some great shots without disturbing them.
Challenger Bay is a picturesque sandy bay that is interspersed with small bommies. This Bay is also a popular place for Dwarf Minkes, so you might have a host of attractions at this dive site. This area is dotted with an amazing amount of cleaning stations – must be the fish equivalent of a drive in car wash. Watch as triggerfish, coral trout, angelfish, sweetlips and rock cods all queue up to be serviced next. In the blue you can see shoals of barracuda, snappers, trevally and marauding schools of bumphead triggerfish (and can hear them eating the coral as they swim and munch by). There is a beautiful coral garden here and this dive site also makes a wonderful night dive location too.
Pixie Pinnacle and Gardens
This dive site boasts a pinnacle that is 30 metres tall and 15 metres diameter. This Pinnacle, like an ornate cake is decorated on the sides by wonderful coral formations and a host of marine life. Your dive starts at the top at just 2 metres depth and you slowly work your way down around the hard and soft and corals, dodging sea whips, large gorgonian fans and sponges. Some of the nooks and crannies and overhands shelter lionfish, shrimps, moray eels, clownfish in their anemone home and the amazing flaming fire shells.
Circling in the blue next to the pinnacle are schools of surgeonfish, barracuda and trevally. For the small critter enthusiasts you can check out lace scorpion fish, harlequin ghost pipefish and leafy scorpion fish.
Steve must be chuffed - this is one of the most popular sites in the area. This dive site is one for all macro and wide-angled photographers. It is one of the best sites on the Great Barrier Reef due to the density and diversity of marine life here. Large schools of fish take refuge around the bommie and circle it. Watch large schools of trevally and barracudas, reef sharks and rays. Interspersed in the colourful corals macro life clings to the sides of the bommie and you can see anemone fish, stone fish and nudibranch.
A small underwater plaque commemorates ‘Steve’ who the bommie was named after in 1989.
This is another popular site for divers and for the Dwarf Minkes. Diving here you will see large schools of yellow and blue snapper and many types of anemone fish and a good likelihood of seeing the amazing Dwarf Minkes on the surface.
This dive site came 30th in the “Planet’s Best Dives” – so no mean shakes. This dive site is a hard coral fantasy land where you have vistas of staghorn, table and plate corals interspersed with waving anemones and giant clams. Brilliantly coloured chromis and fusiliers are abundant at this site and these in turn attract the tuna and large mackerel.
Additional Dive Sites for the 7 Day Expedition/Exploratory Trip:
This expedition will take you that much further out past The Great Barrier Reef to the stunning dive sites in the Coral Sea.
This is indeed so fairyish you’ll want to don a pink wetsuit and sprinkle some fairy dust! Like a fairy castle under the water you will find yourself wending your way through swim throughs, arches and caverns in the shallows. Known for its crystal clear water and with walls that descend down to 1000m – dodge those Gorgonian Sea Fans as you dive along the wall – watch out for cruising Grey Reef sharks.
At Admiralty Anchor you will have an unforgettable encounter with the endangered Nautilus (yes, the animal behind the amazing shells). Unchanged for millions of years and now in sharp decline for the shell industry seeing these animals up close and in real life is like viewing a fossil. If you wish to know more ask the crew as the company does active research and conservation to help preserve these amazing animals. There is a stunning cave at this dive site and get your macro lens screwed on as it’s going to get a lot of work on this dive photographing all the little critters here.
Surround yourself with 10-30 Reef Sharks in this natural amphitheatre and see if you can see the sharks through all those extra bubbles your breathing with excitement. The shark feeding here certainly attracts the sharks as the grey reef, white tips and silvertip sharks congregate and circle. All divers are placed in safe positions so that they have the best views and don’t get in the way of an excited frenzy of feeding sharks.
This may be called a false entrance but it’s a real dive site. The dive site was named because of a large U-shaped gully that starts the dive. This lagoon area drops off gradually to around 30 metres. Reaching up from the gully floor are towering bommies that tower like underground castle turrets.
At this site you can see passing silver tip, white tip and grey reef sharks. Soldier Fish and trigger fish can be seen around the corals, a friendly Maori wrasse might pass by and in the blue large schools of big eye trevally swarm by in their fluid drill patterns. For the macro enthusiast there are nudibranch and blennies and gobies that will brighten up any photographer’s photos.
Night/Twilight Dives on the Great Barrier Reef
On all the trips you will have the opportunity to do night dives (led dives) or twilight dives (you and your buddy). These dives are usually spent on the last dive site and moor up of the afternoon.
Night lights can be rented or bring your own (with spare batteries).
As day turns to night you can see feeding coral polyps, colourful fans, crustaceans and cruising sharks. The night dives are a whole different experience and a completely different show. As the day animals curl up to sleep and nestle under their rocks – out come the thousands of reef animals that surface under the cover of dark.
View the red eyes of shrimps illuminated in your dive light like the eyes of lots of little aliens. Colourful fish will follow your light with curiosity. Catch sight of hunting octopus, moray eels, or a sleeping turtle with its head under a rock. You might see a nocturnal black spotted puffer fish, a dog face, epaulette sharks and clown fish. The hard coral your saw on your afternoon dive now looks different as the polyps have come out to feed. You might see passing sharks looking for easy fish to pick off amongst the rocks and sleeping Parrotfish encased in their own specially made saliva sleeping bags.
There’s nothing like diving at night amongst phosphorescence or surfacing under the stars of a clear tropical night.
Your diving liveaboard Vessel - Features:
- Your well-appointed dive liveaboard has plenty of room to spread out and many living areas that include an alfresco bar (handy for watching another beautiful sunset with sundowner cocktail) an inside bar and lounge area, a large sundeck (with sun beds)
- There is equipment and set ups for photographers
- A 12 person crew – all highly experienced
- A Marine Biologist will give nature presentations daily and is there to consult with throughout the trip
- The vessel has full air-conditioning
- Daily cabin service
- Well designed large dive deck with well laid out exit and entry platforms
- 2 large screen TVs in the lounge area
- Nitrox and Rebreather divers are catered for
- 2 large inflatables dinghies are in use every day allowing for optimal dive access
Dive Boat Specifications:
Beam – 10.5m (35ft)
Length - 30 m (100ft)
Speed – cruising speed of 15 knots
Survey – 29 people - Commissioned in 1989
Instruments on Board:
240V /110V Recharge Facilities – available in lounge areas and bedrooms.
Global Positioning Systems x 2
Chart Plotters x 2
HF & VHF Radios
If you don’t wish to lug heavy equipment on the airlines and in bags then you can rent all your equipment for the trip.
That includes BCD’s (Aqualung Wave), wetsuits (5mm full length), snorkel gear, regulators, gauges, dive lights and snorkel gear.
By law all dive companies that provide equipment have to have it serviced every 6 months (that’s BCD’s and regulators). So you don’t have to worry about renting shonky equipment. If you do bring your own equipment then it is recommended that you ensure it has been serviced within the year.
For safety on the dives all divers are provided with a Nautilus Lifeline GPS (no extra rental charge), which is worn on each dive.
No matter what your first stage set up the boat has European DIN and US style tank valves.
For keen photographers you can also hire an underwater camera.
Extra Diving Services
Due to the demand the “Spoilsport” now has faculties to cater for rebreather divers. Please advise the tour specialist when booking the trip as paperwork is sent prior to ensure that all equipment and support you require on the trip is in place.
Rebreather services include:
- HI 5G booster pump and fill pane
- MBDE Rebreather Pre-Dive Checklist for added safety
- Tri-mix rebreather service and decompression diving
- Safety diver and bailout gas will all be prepared and ready during decompression dives
- Complimentary supply of:
- 2L aluminium
- 3L steel “on board” cylinders
- 7L steel “off board” cylinders (limited supply)
- No time limit on dives (where practical)
- Any depths will be limited to experience and qualifications
- Soda lime and oxygen supplied to order (fees apply)
Please note: All rebreather divers are requested to dive with a buddy and this is a safety policy on board these trips.
Photographic services on board:
- Air guns at all camera stations
- Spacious camera stations x 3
- Freshwater rinse tubs on diving deck for camera equipment
- Camera shelving with 3 tiers to incorporate charging facilities:
- 240v (Australian) socket.
- 110v (USA style - 2 prong straight pin)
- Charging sockets in all cabins - 110v and 240v
- Access to computers (Windows) for editing and saving of photos
- 1x video/DVD player – to view videos
- 2x large TV screens to allow for viewing photographs and video
- Enter the Guest Underwater Photo Competition that is run every expedition (win a free dive trip!)
Note: Remember when you pack to bring adaptors for the electrical sockets (Australia sockets are two thin prongs pointed together and a straight thin prong at the base). Also remember any chargers and USB sticks and memory card readers.
Nitrox is offered on this trip whether as a certified nitrox diver (bring your certification card) or why not take the nitrox certification course whilst on board. This will extend your bottom times as it offsets your nitrogen limits (at extra cost).
Your diving day will consist of:
Night Dive (at the same site as the afternoon dive)
A certified experienced Dive Master can accompany you on dives if you wish. If you prefer to dive with your dive buddy then that’s fine as well.
Meals provided on board:
Mid morning snacks and fruits available
Fruit and snacks
Dinner (a la carte)
What Tours Are Available for the Dwarf Minke and Diving Expeditions?
There are a range of tours that leave for the Dwarf Minke watching. All leave from Cairns at 6pm. When you board the vessel you will be greeted by the crew and settled into your cabin. Watch the sun setting on another tropical day in paradise and meet the other guests.
4 Nights/12 Dive Fly – Dwarf Minke and Dive Expedition
Board the boat in Cairns and then fly back in a low flyng Cessna plane from Lizard Island back over the azure waters of the Great Barrier Reef and the lush foliage of the Daintree Rainforest.
7 Nights/22 Dives - Dwarf Minke and Dive Expedition
Board the boat in Cairns and then return for Thursday 8.00am on the last day back to Cairns .
7 Nights - Dwarf Minke and Dive Expedition with Exploratory Extras
This Exploratory Expedition will take you further out from the Great Barrier Reef to the Coral Sea beyond. You will dive remote dive sites like Fairy Grotto and go shark diving at North Horn and experience seeing the rare Nautilus at Admiralty Anchor.
If you’re going to the reef we highly recommend hiring an underwater camera so you can capture all the amazing things you see in high quality photos or videos. Show your friends and family back home the amazing and colourful underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, keeping your precious memories safe for a lifetime. With lots of colourful fish, turtles, hard and soft corals, sharks and more on the reef, there is so much to take photos of! Get a selfie with friendly fish or maybe capture the next award winning National Geographic image! SUWC have a range of cameras to suit your budget and needs. Every camera rental comes with a FREE SD card for you to take home. Cameras can also be delivered direct to your accommodation to make things as easy as possible for you! Click here to hire your underwater camera.
Included in Price
Snorkelling & Diving with Minke Whales
Low level Reef Flight to or from Lizard Island
Diving the top dive sites on the Barrier Reef
Diving with Potato Cod and Maori Wrasse (giant fish!)
Superior vessel stability – so better for sea sickness
Experience the remoteness of Coral Sea dive sites with sea walls and amazing coral formations
Delicious chef-prepared meals with vegetarian and vegan options available
Dinner options a la carte
Spectacular shark feeding dive
Finish up your trip with a flight that flies at a low altitude over the Great Barrier Reef from Lizard Island (if on a dive/fly expeditions
Nautilus Life Line GPS for each diver on every dive
For Bookings Call Now!
1300 761 612
3, 4 or 7 nights
Days of Operation
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday depending on how many nights booked (3,4 or 7 nights)
3 night liveaboard departs Mondays
4 night liveaboard departs Thursdays
7 night liveaboard departs Thursdays
- Cairns Beaches
- Palm Cove
What To Bring
All cancellations must be in writing. Please note that all cancellations will incur an administration fee. Please see our terms and conditions for details prior to booking.
Cancellations must be advised in writing.
Less than 60 days prior to departure - forfeit 50% of trip fee per person.
Less than 30 days prior to departure - forfeit 100% of trip fee per person.
Ribbon Reef dive sites: Cod Hole, Lighthouse Bommie, Goggle Gardens, Steve's Bommie
Book your bunk early for this trip of a lifetime!
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2017 - 20181 Apr 17 - 31 Mar 18
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