In July I was lucky enough to book a spot on a Mike Ball liveaboard trip up into the stunning ribbon reefs and Lizard Island, north of my normal photography hunting grounds. This seven night trip had one main focus, dwarf minke whales. Now of course, despite wanting to see as many of these amazing whales as possible, I had to look for macro life as well, and I was not disappointed.
The whole week was phenomenal. We were lucky enough to be joined on board by Professor Alastair Birtles who knew everything there was to know about the creatures. And what a creature they are, majestic, curious and so intelligent! Throughout the week, we saw 19 different whales. There really is something special about being in the middle of the ocean with a 9 metre whale swimming around and investigating you. When a whale swims past you to get a real close look at these strange creatures in their ocean, it really is a sight to be seen and must be in the top ten marine things to do in the world.
Overall, many of the reefs in the far north had some incredible coral cover and were in great condition. One of my highlights was a site called ‘the Two Towers’, at the southern end of ribbon reef number 10. Despite having been hit by a cyclone in 2016 and 2017, it had some of the best coral cover I have seen in a long time. It was almost like watching a National Geographic documentary. I even did a night dive on this site, dropping to around 22 metres and searching for macro life at night-time; what a treat. Not only did I find a huge array of incredible macro life but out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something very large coming out of the dark. A dwarf minke whale had spotted my lights and came to check me out! Not something you would expect at night-time and despite only having a macro lens with me, I managed a great shot up-close shot of its eye peering out at me.
As always, the crew were fantastic; always making you feel at home, and nothing was too much trouble. Plus, the food was excellent which is a detail that always makes or breaks a liveaboard. Thank you to Mike Ball for a week to remember, I will be back.
All pictures taken with a Canon R5 both above and below the water.