Top Ten Australia Classic Adventures

Dive the Cod Hole
By Ron Moon & Viv Moon

They come up to greet you like long lost pals—more than 20 species of giant fish, some surpassing the 200-pound mark. But while the big cod of the Great Barrier Reef's Cod Hole crowd around like friends at a party, their motives aren't entirely honorable.

After years of being fed by divers, the big fish of the Cod Hole have learned that the presence of a snorkeler or diver means chow time. Most of the freeloaders are big estuary cod, but a host of other fish fill the minor billings. There are smaller, more brightly colored cod of half a dozen different species, as well as sweetlip, grouper, angel fish, coral trout, a couple of friendly moray eels, and a very large Maori wrasse that comes in the from the deeper water once the feeding frenzy has reached a peak.

And frenzy is truly the word for it. Fish thunder in from all sides to surround the "lucky" divers carrying the feed buckets; those without food are also accosted and closely inspected for any morsel or tidbit. The whole affair makes a football scrum look like a child's party—it goes without saying that if you are not confident underwater, don't carry the food!

The action is typically brief and intense; once the food has been gorged and fought over, some semblance of normality returns to this enclave in the reef. The giant cod settle back into cruise control as they swing along the walls of the reef and across the sand bowl; the morays return like dogs to their kennels; the coral trout hang motionless over the coral bommies, patiently waiting for any small fish to swim too close; the giant Maori wrasse glides off silently form whence he came.

The Cod Hole is situated on the southern side of Cormorant Pass, itself about 15 miles from the plush resort of Lizard Island; you can also get there via a longish boat ride from Cairns, the tourist capital of North Queensland.


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