About a month ago I went with my scuba school on a dive around Cook Island, not too far off the coast of Tweed and Fingal. The island is known for its unique wildlife, distinct smell and as a hotspot for local snorkelers and scuba divers.
This was my second boat dive, my first being the unforgettable trip to the Great Barrier Reef in November. Cook Island offered a different sort of challenge as a rookie diver. It was a windy day and the waves around the island were ferocious and choppy, on top of that I had an extremely feint cold, so feint that I didn’t even know that I had one, but for anybody who had ever tried to equalise underwater, they know that the slightest problem with the sinuses can cause immense pain when you’re fifteen metres deep.
The descent was tough. Struggling to release an air bubble in my ear, I was trying harder and harder to equalise, meaning I was using more and more oxygen. Eventually I made it to the bottom, however and the dive could begin. Although the descent was tough, it was definitely worth the extra effort to clear the trapped air as the wildlife that I saw was unlike any I had seen before- even on the Great Barrier Reef.
Nurse sharks littered the bottom. I must have seen at least four lying down and one swimming around in a relatively short space. Most people hear the word shark and automatically think Great Whites with massive teeth, but Nurse Sharks are a relatively timid creature during the day. They are mainly nocturnal and because of their docile and sluggish nature are often targeted by humans for their tough skin (used for leather) and for their flesh (as food). Beware though, if you don’t provoke them then they are very rarely a threat, but tug on their tail or threaten them in anyway and they’ll still take a bite out of you.
There is a whole host of other marine life swimming around Cook Island and I was even lucky enough to see some sea turtles and sting rays drifting past, minding their own business. It’s a strange feeling seeing all of these creatures below the surface, living fascinating lives that go unnoticed by most people. Every time I dive, I really do feel lucky getting a front seat to such an exclusive show.
It was a relatively peaceful dive until the drift kicked in. The current around the island pushed me and the other divers around the corners- much too fast for my novice ass to get my bearings and try to steer myself into it. It was hard work trying to stay in control of my movements, especially when the dive on the reef was almost deathly still and this was so starkly opposite.
I relished the challenge of the dive and a challenge is exactly what I got. It wasn’t the easiest dive or the most peaceful, but it was extraordinary. I have never seen such a broad abundance of wildlife in such a small space and it is easy to see why the entire island is protected as a nature reserve. It is known for its spectacular marine life and it is also the mating grounds of countless local sea birds, including terns and shearwaters.
It’s my aim to get out to Cook Island once more before I leave, and hopefully next time I’ll be much less at the mercy of the tide and get an even closer look at some of these awesome animals.
Thanks for reading!
Goodbye and let the current take you