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The Water

Turtle at the Mackerel Islands by Nathan Patterson

by Nathan “Patto” Patterson

While working at Perth Scuba I have been lucky enough to be involved in some pretty amazing adventures but nothing like the trip that I have just been on to the Pilbara filming a new TV series called ”the Water”.

Darryll, Joey’s Dad, and I returned to Perth last Friday morning after 10 days travelling to Onslow, Mackerel Islands, Karratha and Dampier. The first stop was the town of Onslow, we didn’t hang around long, just long enough to transfer the gear from the cars to the boats before making the 13Nm to Thevenard Island. We stayed at the Mackerel Islands Resort right on the beach, the rooms were very well appointed with everything you need to make a great family holiday, not that Steve, the producer, gave us much time to look around after all it was a work trip…….

The Island itself has been used by oil companies to store oil from offshore platforms for years, until recently they have promoted it as a holiday destination. We hit some reef systems around the Mackerel Group called Rosalie Kay and Penguin Bank for Mackerel, Giant Trevally, not only was the fishing great but while I was skippering the boat I marked some spots on the plotter to dive when the tide was right. Finally the tide was right and I didn’t muck around getting in the water. The minute we started our decent there was a school of 20+ Black Tip Reef Sharks schooling around us darting in and out wondering what these strange bubble blowing creatures were, closer to the bottom there was 3 big, really big, Rankin Cod that greeted us. As we made our way around the reef the corals I found were healthier and more brightly coloured than I had expected and so much marine life I was blown away. I guess this just goes to show that industry and the environment can be as one.The Mackerel Islands by Nathan Patterson

Drew the resort manager took us to his favourite dive in the area, Brewers Reef, this place was unreal, as soon as I got my mask in the water I saw a 2m+ Thresher Shark just below us, I later found him and his mate in a cave having an afternoon snooze, Giant Trevally and Mangrove Jack occupied the overhang just at the bottom of the anchor line. Every crevasse of this reef was packed with fish, Glass fish and Scaly Anthias were like flies around a rubbish bin in the middle of summer, Coral Trout, Barramundi Cod, Juvenile Red Emperor, Rankin Cod, Malabar Cod and Baldchin Groper were also seen.

We were also lucky enough to be on the island during Turtle breeding season, we headed to the back beach at sunset to see my favourite creature in the ocean mate in the shallows and crawl up the beach to lay their eggs, it was an amazing experience and to watch it all take place with the setting sun in the back ground was very special, not to mention the perfect photo/filming opportunity.

Turtle at Sunset on the Mackerel Islands by Nathan PattersonThe next stop was Karratha, I have to say it was very different driving into town, I have worked in this area for a number of years but I have always flown in. I have flown over the islands of the Dampier Archipelago so many times and often wondered what the diving would be like, well this time I got to. Whilst passing Rosemary Island, the most western Island of the group, I jumped in for a look. The only disappointing thing about this dive was the lack of big table fish, I saw 1 size Coral trout in a 23 minute dive, but I did get to swim in and out of some unbelievable ground soft corals were in abundance and schooling fish everywhere. The highlight was a 1m+ Sand Snapper quietly resting under a ledge while bright blue wrasse swam in and out of his gills cleaning him up, I must have hovered for a good 5 minutes watching them.

The plan was to stay in Karratha/Dampier for a couple of days then head to the mecca that is the Montebello Islands, but mother nature had other ideas. After a lot of consideration the group decided that is was not a good idea to make the trip out to the Monties this time round, but we do plan on returning.

The Water is a diving and fishing show different to what you’re used to seeing on TV, it’s due to air 23rd November on Foxtel’s Lifestyle channel and West TV Channel 44.

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