This Sunday marks two years since the first charter SCUBA divers descended the mooring line to discover the Ex-HMAS Tobruk in its final resting place on the sand.
Underwater photographer Tracy Olive was in that group of divers and describes the Tobruk Experience and how the wreck has become an oasis for marine life after being scuttled in 2018.
On our first dive on the Tobruk we were all very surprised how much growth was already happening. Now, two years on, this grand old lady of the sea is an ever-changing ecosystem set to surprise the avid SCUBA diver.
Last Sunday we were met at the dive site with mild seas and overcast conditions. The humid air and warm ocean temperature were a platform for a very comfortable SCUBA dive.
The slow descent down the crustacean covered mooring line revealed our favourite friendly resident turtle waiting to delight our group of divers.
‘Brookie’ the green sea turtle didn’t disappoint as she patiently posed for photographs and rubbed her shell on divers.
Our attentions then turned to the ominous shadows looming above; a school of great barracuda that can reach lengths of two meters and weigh 50 kilograms watched on as we explored the hull.
In the ship’s cracks and crevices were octopus, scorpion fish and the watching eyes of barely visible tiny marine critters.
Schools of several different species of trevally, mackerel, snapper and countless batfish created an electric vibe as they circled the wreck.
The schools of fish parted as we descended to enter the tank deck and the ocean floor became visible.
This is where the big kids hang out. There are schools of whiptail rays, three-meter-long marble rays and a car-sized Queensland grouper.
With torches ready we entered the tank deck and beams of light darted around the internal structure to reveal large cod sneaking off to the many chambers within the wreck.
On the walls large soft corals reach into the water column filtering the nutrient rich water with pink, purple and white fairy floss tentacles.
Outside, the towering ship's structures give divers many opportunities to explore, peek and discover this ever-changing, new, wet world.
The Ex-HMAS Tobruk was sunk in mid-2018, approximately 17 nautical miles (32 kilometres) off the coast, halfway between Hervey Bay and Bundaberg in the Great Sandy Marine Park.