Ocean Spirit Cruise
We arrived at the reef terminal and checked in received our ticket to board the ship. A large boat, you can sit indoors on lounges, outside or on the deck.
As you arrive, tea, coffee, muffins and focaccia are available.
As the boat departs, we are given a safety briefing and collect the gear to use for the day of snorkelling. You are also able to pay extra for guided snorkelling tours or scuba diving.
The journey to the outer reef is approximately 2 hours. Whilst on board you can relax or learn about whales!
According to the staff, dolphins are part of the whale family. Sometimes in small groups, some in larger packs. There are also whales with teeth and whales with baleen. One single blow hole for toothed whales. Bottlenose dolphins are the most well known.
There are also false killer whale, head end like a torpedo and uncommon in Australia. The Sperm whale is one of the biggest toothed whales. There are also Southern right whales because they are slow moving and were in past times, the right whales to “go after”. There were whaling stations at Tangalooma near QLd and Albany, Qld. 90% of the species were whales in earlier times but fortunately whaling is no longer conducted in Australia. In 1980 a new species was found – dwarf minky whale. Different colours on their bodies.
Humpback whales, most common in east Australia, are very distinctive with long pectoral fins up to 6m, weigh 30 tonnes in average, 13-16 m length, with long pleats to expand when they eat. Tubicles (giant hair follicles on the head).
In July to September is when you may see Humpback whales migrating. It is the biggest migration of a mammal. The round trip is over 5000 km. They make journeys to breed. From Cairns to Antarctica (and other journeys in WA and Beneath South Australia). It is too cold to breed in Antarctica so they come north. They then breast feed, producing 500-600 litres a day to feed their babies.
Great Barrier Reef and Michaelmas Cay
The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage site and is one of the worlds largest single living organisms and can be seen from outer space. It extends approximately 2600 km off the east coast of Australia. It is a network or different coral reefs and a marine park.
Captain Cook called it the Barrier Reef as to him it was a barrier between there and the open water. 1774 Matthew Flinders called it the Great Barrier Reef.
We travelled to Michaelmas Cay, a sand cay formed my fragments of plant and animal skeletons that are collected on the reef. A sand cay emerges when birds bring seeds and fertiliser.
The boat anchors near Michaelmans Cay, a small low lying vegetated sand cay, surrounded by the reef. The boat transports guests to the cay in a small boat. You then have the opportunity to snorkel and see the beautiful coral, plants, fish and other marine animals in the area. Over 1590 different types of fish are in the Great Barrier Reef. It is simply incredible. One of the most beautiful places you will witness in Australia.
You can buy some extras like guided snorkel tours or introductory scuba dives. Whilst anchored, you can also take a glass bottomed boat to see more marine life or have lunch.
A lunch buffet is offered with hot options; rice and curry or ratatouille. There’s prawns, cold meats, salads and bread rolls. They also offered dessert; fruit and chocolate and carrot cake with tea and coffee.
After a few hours at the Cay, the boat set sail back to the marina. On the journey home, we were offered a glass of sparkling wine and cheese and biscuits.
The staff on this boat were extremely professional and knowledgeable and some of the best we’ve seen. It was also evident they loved their jobs.
This was extremely good value at $202, let alone the $165 we got it on special for! A must do if in Cairns.