Dwarf Minke Whales and Cod Hole in the Great Barrier Reef!

whales, cod hole, great barrier reef, scubaOne of the most exciting events to look forward to on the Great Barrier Reef in July are Dwarf Minke Whales! As the name says, for a baleen whale they are rather small, growing to a maximum of 8 meters, or 24 ft, and on the endangered list, thank you Japan for slaughtering Minkes illegally every year. The ones I saw this year, off of the Spirit of Freedom, were not that large, but it was a thrill to see them. Sadly, I only had a few seconds to enjoy a close, eye to eye encounter. A few times we “snorkeled” (we were hanging onto a rope) in order to see them, and on the day whales came close, an event on board shut the encounter down. A woman onboard who was also on the rope, had breathing issues. I’m still not sure what happened, whether she had a panic attack or a seizure, but she had a health incident and the crew got us all out of the water. I was the last person on the rope, so I was lucky enough to have a short encounter with two whales, a mum and a calf, but it did not last long enough. I was face to face with them, no more than 6 feet away, but I had to get out of the water so the boat could take off for Lizard Island so she could be airlifted to Cairns. The story had a happy ending, she was stable by the time we got to Lizard Island, thank goodness. But the whale story certainly was cut short! The crew was very professional and dealt with the emergency quickly and well.

whales, cod hole, great barrier reef, scuba

Hanging out, waiting for whales!

whales, cod hole, great barrier reef, scuba

Dwarf Minke Whales, seen close up but not for long!

whales, cod hole, great barrier reef, scuba

Lousy shot

After the airlift, the boat headed for famous Cod Hole. The dive site is famous for large (and I mean LARGE) Potato Cods who will come close to divers. The dive master feeds them to get them to hang around. Sadly, I only saw one Potato Cod, but it was a very cool experience being face to face with that big boy (or girl!). All of us thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle!


whales, cod hole, great barrier reef, scuba

Coming toward me from behind


whales, cod hole, great barrier reef, scuba

Potato Cod close up! In the Atlantic, we call them groupers.

pc2 pc-4


whales, cod hole, great barrier reef, scuba

Having a little fun on the safety stop!


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About the Author ()

I am an avid scuba diver, underwater photographer, amateur historian; interested in all people and cultures. For me, the unexpected is usually the norm! My motto? I am an Empty Nester who likes to Renew, Revamp, and Reinvent Life!
Contact me at travelswithtam@gmail.com

Comments (14)

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  1. I’m sorry … I’ve been looking at these images so long I forgot what I was going to say. They are such beautiful creatures!

  2. I have a question. Can we pul-LEASE trade lives today? I so want to be in the water, seeing these beauties and just feeling as alive as you do when you’re underwater. Oh, how glorious for you, Tam. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. It warms my heart. And then some.

  3. Those are some BIG-ASS fish, Tam! What a thrill to be so close and swimming with them!

  4. Irene says:

    The post is just fantastic! Have a nice day:)


  5. Leanne says:

    That water is so clear and so blue! I love your photos and to be that close to those BIG fish must be amazing.

  6. I so enjoy your life!! Your photos are fun and beautiful. I’m going out in to my backyard just to take in a bit a nature because it’s everywhere! Thanks, Tam!

  7. barbara free says:

    So glad you were able to see the whales. If memory serves, there use to be a huge grouper in Cozumel at one time….had a name I can’t remember. It was years ago. Another great experience.

    • Tam Warner says:

      In Cozumel? I know there was a huge Goliath grouper in Key Largo…I saw him, but I cannot remember his name! I want to say “Ben”…I have no idea if he is still around.

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