Expertise Rating Intermediate

On the northern tip of reef no#12-127 and south of Bligh Reef is the entrance that Captain Bligh and 18 shipmates, sailing in the Bounty long boat, used in their 3618 nautical mile epic journey from Tonga to Timor. Little did they know that only 200 years later this would become one of the premier dive sites in the region!

This site is best dived as a drift on the incoming tide. You enter at the notch about a third of the way in and drop to your planned depth. Sometimes eddies can swing you out into the chan-

Bligh's Boat Passage is historic anda great dive site nel or apparently the wrong way. In this case, go with the flow but be careful as it is very easy to go below depth here. You end the dive at the reef point by popping around the corner and doing a safety stop in the shallows, where the coral is excellent.

Along the wall, photographers can shoot wide-angle and enjoy the enormous plate and staghorn corals, gorgo-nian fans, silvertip and grey reef sharks and barracuda that occasionally cruise here. Alternately, go macro for the great diversity of small life to be seen. Feather stars hang out in the current for food, while huge swirling schools of bass-lets, parrotfish, wrasse, surgeonfish and damsels provide a disorienting effect - especially towards the end of the dive. Large soft corals, whips and black tree coral colonies are common.

As the wall is so sharp it has small gutters nearer the surface, sand falls and algal cascades occur in-between the corals and small gully floors. Look for resting whitetip or tawny sharks.

This end of Mantis Reef is spectacular from outside the northern tip to inside along the back edge. Vertical walls, terraces, caves, overhangs, sandy gullies, sand ledges with garden eels and trig-gerfish nests and shallow bommies add up to excellent diving at many sites.

Outside, on the front, a vertical face stretches almost all along the 19km of the reef. This is where more of the great pelagic action is seen, with barracuda schools, trevally and fusiliers. Sperm whales and whale sharks have also been spotted. Potato cod and gropersare resident and, deeper down, enormous gor-gonian fans and spiky soft corals reach out into the waters. Keep an eye out for manta and mobula rays.

If you are snorkeling, the sandy flat area around shallow bommies at the reef back is superb as a coral garden site. Butterflyfish, damsels, angelfish, triggerfish and flutemouths will be often seen. Cod, trout and surgeonfish are common, especially in among the staghorn and plate corals.

It is important here thatyou plan your dive and your plan well, due to the remoteness of the site, depths and currents. It is worth it!

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