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4 day or 7 day livaboard, and fish feeding,

Discussion in 'Australia' started by gregsfrontporch, Aug 19, 2015.

  1. gregsfrontporch

    gregsfrontporch Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Thailand
    Hey Folks, or should I say, Oi, G'day?
    Yeah, yeah,
    OK, my question; I was last on the GBR about 10 years ago, I believe it was on the Spirit of Freedom, but can likely be mistaken. On that trip it was a 7 day trip out of Cairns, and the Coral Sea section was canceled due to bad weather.
    I have an opportunity to visit again in late November and am curious about opinions of 7 day vs 4 day.
    I don't expect I'll be travelling with my gear, so am not concerned about weight limits, and believe that the 4 day trip is a "get to the meat" version of the 7 day trip where the 7 day trip is a few days of lite hearted ribbon reef dives while heading north to the Coral Sea.
    I'm really interested in seeing some large schools of pelagics, and the 4 day trip sounds like a best bang for the bubble type of trip.
    I've not considered any one specific shop yet, and am happy to entertain suggestions. I think they are all pretty much the same. I don't mind sacrificing comfort, I'm quite happy in a backpacker/minimalist environment, but I do value ethics, and quality, which leads me into my next question:
    What does the SB community feel about shark feeding. I recall there being a trained cod at Cod hole that was fed providing tourist photo ops, and it sounds like the coral sea visits standardly include a shark feeding session.
    Personally, I am not a fan of feeding wildlife, preferring to keep wildlife wild (not training Cecil the lion, type tours), but how do I endorse my opinion on a liveaboard that routinely practices this? Don't go on that dive? That doesn't make sense.
    I know that great white feeding is a big attraction in South Africa, and I am sure the tourists just love the photo ops that feeding provides on the barrier reef, but ethically, it is wrong. What happened to "Take only photos, and leave only bubbles"?

    Cheers folks,

  2. WetPup

    WetPup Weedy Sea Dragon

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Kiwiland
    The only liveaboards that go to Osprey Reef where the greater numbers of pelagics tend to be are Mike Ball or Spirit of Freedom. They both do the shark feed. You could sit that dive out I guess, I mean you'll see other sharks on the trip, just not in such numbers. Which as you imply, is mainly for the photo ops. It's a little different to what goes on in South Africa (I've done both) in the way it's handled and the number of operators doing it. Still not ideal - the sharks show up and start circling the boat as soon as they hear the motors, because they know what's coming - but with only 2 boats doing it, and each only doing it on one dive each week, I think the situation isn't nearly as fraught as it could be.

    As for the liveaboards, Mike Ball is a nicer operation, probably 5*, but priced accordingly. Spirit of Freedom is still nice, but maybe more in the 4-4.5* range, and costs a bit less. These are the only options for going out to the Coral Sea at the moment, so there's not really a "budget" option so to speak.

    I personally prefer the 7 day trip, as it's fun to play around with the colourful fishies at Ribbon Reefs after going out to Osprey. As a photographer, I like the photo ops on Ribbon Reefs, more colour :)
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
  3. Aquapro Dive Services

    Aquapro Dive Services Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Cairns, Australia
    personally I would say Mike Ball and Spirit are on the same level. Mike Balls Spoilsport is getting a little long in the tooth now, but the service on both is still 5* and very hard to beat.

    The shark feed is not comparable to the Great While feeds, but obviously a lot more sharks come in for it rather than the Gt. Whiles where you can be waiting a long time to get one to come to you.

    The sites are so varied on these trips that if you have the time I would do the 7 day.

    However, if you want to save some time and money, then best the 4 day would cover all the best bits.

    As for the feeds, the feed is tuna frames and limited amounts. You cannot feed sharks inside the marine Park zones so the Coral Sea rea is still the place to go to se it, and its not like feeding time at the zoo! It is very well organized, and a great way to see the a good variety of sharks.

    There are itineraries for both you can see here. 7 day trip 4 day trip

    The 4 day is the same as the 3 (far North Ribbon Reefs) with the Coral sea thrown in to make up the nbext day. One the 7 day trip both trips try to avoid repetition of the sites so you get a good spread.
  4. ozzydamo

    ozzydamo Divemaster

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    I would concur, the amount they feed the grey reefies at osprey is only enough to make them put in an appearance and it is only once per week by the only 2 operators.
    The 4 day is a fly in, which in it's self is a nice thing to see the pristine wilderness north of cape trib.

    The Sharks, dogtooth tuna, double bar mackerel and trevallys are spectacular on the walls of osprey reef.

    So it would depend on what you want out of it- you want lots of coral critters also and like being on a boat longer then 4days then do the 7 dayer- but if like the big stuff, why not do the 4 days twice????? oi.... mate!

    as for boat SOF is tops- great food with a great lady "Kaz" preparing a big variety of quality food and plenty of it. Do the ocean view room if you get the opportunity. Have fun which ever way you go and safe diving.
  5. gregsfrontporch

    gregsfrontporch Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Thailand
    Thanks for the feedback. Only two choices, I guess narrows the options down quite a bit.
    I'm glad I didn't receive a slew of heckles regarding shark feeding. I think it is wrong, but I realize that I'm often in the minority in many of my opinions. The power of the all mighty dollar brought in by bus loads of tourists, seems to establish the status quo more often than conservation.
    The Ribbons, as memory serves me, are quite a delight, and truly are where my bubble enjoyment lies more than in the blue, but swimming in a school of sharks is pretty exhilarating.
    I remember the snake pit was a pretty unique opportunity, and there were a few very cool frog fish on a couple of those dives as well.
    Thanks for the recommendations.
  6. ozzydamo

    ozzydamo Divemaster

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    If your flying from Bangers to Brisso, try manta lodge as well, the owner operator James is 100% mr nice guy, top staff and service, with a great bunch of regular divers who will make you feel at home. I just was there on Saturday and was well impressed- heaps of sharks too! cheap diving on a great set of sites- North Stradbroke Island's only 5 Star PADI Dive Centre, Since 1992
  7. Samshaks

    Samshaks Registered

    excellent meals are there if you are planning a big wide range of quality meals and a lot of it. Have safe diving with your family or friends. Have a safe 4 - 7 day trip.

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