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An exciting 2023 liveaboard dive expedition & new “How to find critters” videos

Through the unknowable workings of the universe, an opportunity to visit that place I have long known to be the very best diving in Australia, (and maybe the world) has suddenly opened up, and I’m going! Long story short, a trip I have always wanted to do but could never manage has unexpectedly become available and this is your invitation to come along! Maximum 12 divers so get in quick if you’re keen.

What’s happening ?

  • An unexpected expedition to join
  • New Videos to watch
  • News and stuff to watch on telly
13 Day route Cairns to Horn Island

Where : Cairns, Australia

When : 17-29 October 2023

How much : $3750 quadshare, $3950 twinshare, plus a few hundred for extras. That’s AUD!!!! Around $2500USD.

Our trusty ship Kalinda.

I must firstly make clear, this is not a typical Undersea Productions charter. In fact it isn’t one of ours at all. Someone else’s full boat charter has fallen through and I’m trying to fill it. This is not the typical luxury boat we book. This is not the Arenui (talk to me about Forgotten Islands 2026). There won’t be Italian tile ensuite bathrooms, eagle eyed dive guides at 1:4 ratios, or onboard masseurs. 

What is on offer is world class extremely remote diving the likes of which I don’t think we have seen yet. Crucially we have a good ship with uniquely experienced crew led by my old JCU mate Captain Dave Stewart. This is a rare opportunity to see some of the world’s least impacted reefs possibly in its final days before more drastic climate change induced bleaching.

This is a dirt cheap trip for what is on offer, a trip that I honestly doubt will ever be repeated at this price or level of reef and fish-life health.

The location is the very far north of the Great Barrier Reef (further than I have ever been) that will include the famous sites frequented by all the best exCairns and Port Douglas liveaboards – namely the Ribbon Reefs. These sites include Lighthouse Bommie and the Cod Hole, but that’s just the warm up. Rather than stopping at Lizard Island for the flight back to Cairns as is the custom, this special 13-day trip goes to the very top of Australia, just past the pointy top bit actually, to Horn Island from which we fly back to Cairns.

These are some of the sites on the Ribbon Reefs we will hit in the first two days – this is the warmup!

The bits in between the Ribbons and the top though are what will make this the trip of a lifetime – and I don’t use that overused phrase loosely. One of the highlight dives on this itinerary is often argued the 2nd best wreck dive in Australia the Quetta. If you’re into wrecks have a look here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Quetta

Google images of the Quetta Wreck
Google images of the Quetta Wreck

That’s not why I’m excited though. 

Also on the agenda is the Great Detached Reef – which from first-hand accounts I have many-times heard is the best reef anywhere. Take a squizz at Google Earth and it should be clear why it is so great. Biogeographically it should be the hotspot connecting the coral triangle to the GBR, but without the heavy adjacent land development or dodgy fishing practices that plagues most of the triangle and GBR. Everything I’ve heard about it and can see on Google Earth screams mind-blowing diving.

Great detatched reef images
Google images of Great Detatched Reef

But that’s not why I’m excited. 

Even through reports of whale sharks swimming in formation at Wishbone Reef, minke whales circling the boat, tornados of fish at Tijou Reef, reports of sailfish and thresher sharks on the route. All possible and potentially very exciting.

But that’s not why I’m excited. 

No, what I am excited about is the chance to visit Raine Island in turtle breeding season. A national park closed to the public, this is the worlds largest remaining turtle breeding island. Up to 60,000 green turtles should be there, along with the tigers that eat them. I have seen footage and often imagined this could be the greatest thing I have ever witnessed underwater. So that’s the enthusiasm I’m taking with me. 

https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/raineisland

Green turtles hitting the beach at Raine Island. Photo by Patte David, USFWS on Pixnio

New videos

In an effort to get more active on the YouTube scene, I have began a 10 Episode series of short videos (4 are currently live) helping divers to “Find the Critter”. The format is all the same, a brief intro to the group, followed by a 10 Level Challenge where you get 10 seconds to find the critter before closeups reveal the beast. I am releasing each level as a standalone vertical short on Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts (which unfortunately don’t let me choose the thumbnail so it often gives away the answer).

Episode 1 : Find the Frogfish https://youtu.be/uMeWWhwLA7M

Episode 2 : Find the Dangerous fish (Scorpionfish, stonefish and waspish) https://youtu.be/-b_6FIEHBEM

Episode 3 : Find the Syngnathids (Seahorses, pipefish, sea dragons) https://youtu.be/Km_91fN21dE

Episode 4 : Find the Ghost pipefish https://youtu.be/qJ_jrP-TPWw

Episode 5 : Find the Commensal critters

Episode 6 : Find the Cuttlefish

Episode 7 : Find the Octopus

Episode 8 : Find the Gobies

Episode 9 : Find the Crusaceans

Episode 10 : Find the TBC

Subscribe to the UP Youtube channel with notifications to get a ding when I upload new ones.

https://www.youtube.com/underseaproductions

News

In typical “what have you been up to” news, it has been a quiet few years. I had a blast in Palau with many of the faithful, but with trips otherwise on hold due to covid and its hangover affecting dive travel, I’ve been fortunate to score some TV work shooting for local, ITV, Discovery and Nat Geo. Here are the credits if you want to watch.

“Outback and Under” TV series

9Now Experience 9*, my IMDB rating 5.0. Actual IMDB 10.0

Kind of a travel vlog of an American roving reporter travelling Australia diving and doing touristy stuff. I got to do plenty of diving and adventures and did a few onscreen bits as the onboard marine biologist and underwater cameraman talking about diving and the sites and critters we visited and saw.

“I’m a celebrity, get me out of here (U.K)”

Well you can scoff at the content if you will, but the production values, the quality of the crew and organisation is almost military in its precision and security.

ITV Experience 9*, my IMDB rating (for this episode) 6.0. Actual IMDB not rated

“Saved from a shark”

Filming re-enactments from 3 of the 4 stories in the show, this was my first proper job of filming a pretend story(outside TVCs). Ironically, the stories were real, it was just my filming of re-enactments that were faked using stand in actors that didn’t really look much at all like the real victims. We shot in absolute crap visibility at Magnetic Island which muffled that problem, we drowned our actors in fake blood made from red cordial, and trained soldiers to act as rubber ducky surf lifesavers. What a hoot.

National geographic Experience 9*, my IMDB rating (for this episode) 7.0. Actual IMDB 6.1

“Off the hook”

From about 9 minutes to 12 minutes – The “PRESENT DAY SOUTH AUSTRALIA” bit – we tell the story of Herb Illich who was among the pioneers of the abalone chasing shark cages and 25 years later dived again in a new cage to cop another bashing. It was my first time in a cage and rough as guts but thanks to Herb and lots of luck with 4 big sharks turning up, we got the shots. The excellent crew on Rodney Fox Dive Expeditions not only kept me safe, but also enabled me to get the shots of Herb getting nudged. Twice! And a few nudges of my own that the editors cut nicely into Herb POV. We didn’t actually have underwater comms for the shoot and that they added those conversations in makes it funny to watch, but not ha ha funny. Probably if you didn’t know it was perfect. Great topside shooting and sound guys Buzz and Gaz typical of the Discovery standard.

Discovery shark week Experience 9*, my IMDB rating (for this episode) 6.5. Actual IMDB not yet rated


So anywho, that’s what’s going on here and as I am supposed to throw in a call to action, here are a few…..

  • Message me about this trip or future trips.
  • What groups should I make find the critter videos about?
  • Are there location videos you’d like to see?
  • Is there an underwater issue or skill you think I could talk about or help you with?
  • What critters do you want to learn about?
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7 months ago

Looks like a fabulous area and itinerary, Josh! Wish I lived in Oz and could just “swing by” but really look forward to your video. Hope it spawns some interesting projects. The Raine Island segment . . . totally bucket list. Have a fantastic voyage!

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