Marine biologist and underwater videographer, Stuart Ireland finds Nemo (otherwise known as a clownfish) for a living. It’s not a bad job description is it? It gets better. He dives in exotic locations all over the world, filming amazing underwater landscapes and bringing them to the surface, to share with me and you in brilliant high definition, footage.
What’s he doing right now? Following in the footsteps of David Attenborough, trekking the length and width of the Great Barrier Reef with the crew from Tourism and Events Queensland, filming and photographing The Great 8. What’s the Great 8? It’s the underwater equivalent to an African safari and something you must add to your bucket list. Let’s explore the marine world through Stuart’s eyes!
Walt Disney introduced him to the world and now everyone wants to find Nemo. But did you know the clownfish is just one of six species of anemone fish found on the Great Barrier Reef? The pink anemonefish is pictured here. Top tip: as their name suggests, they live in anemones. So once you spot one of these coral clusters look closer for some clownfish critters. They are found on pretty much every one of the 3,000 plus coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef.
North Horn at Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea is rated as one the world’s top 10 shark diving destinations. Cairns liveaboard operators Spirit of Freedom and Mike Ball Dive Expeditions do trips there every week. What will you see? Grey reef sharks, silver tip and white tip reef sharks, hammerheads (if you are lucky) and if you are very, very lucky, a whale shark!
Graceful and elegant, Manta Rays are the underwater equivalent of a leopard in Africa’s ‘Big 5’. Why? They’re on the list, but they are very hard to find. These majestic creatures are best spotted in areas where there is lots of current and plankton. They are infrequently seen in Tropical North Queensland waters so keep your eyes peeled and your fingers crossed. Note: Unlike leopards, Manta Rays can’t (and won’t) try to eat you!
After Nemo, Maori Wrasse rate highly with visitors and underwater photographers alike. Why? They’re big, blue, beautiful and very, very inquisitive. They’re also a protected species. Underwater photographers like Stuart and his crew demonstrate perfect buoyancy skills which allow them to hover just centimetres from the reef wall, capturing amazing photos of visitors and critters on the reef. Note: this proximity should be left to the professionals who can do it safely without touching delicate corals.
Put yourself in this picture! Yes please. This delightful scene was photographed at the iconic Cod Hole, a unique dive site located offshore from Lizard Island. The Cod Hole is definitely on the bucket list of Great Barrier Reef experiences for divers. They’re big, they’re friendly and this is a moment you’ll never forget. Liveaboard dive boats depart twice a week.
Clams – they love us too! This beauty lives in a secret spot near one of Stuart’s favourite sand cays. Even on his days off this man and his camera are busy exploring underwater, usually with his family of mermaids who love the marine world just as much as he does. Top tips to see all the wonders of a clam: don’t get too close, don’t block the sun and don’t wave water on to them. All of these things will result in the clam closing up.
Gimme some fin! Turtles are most definitely part of ‘The Great 8’! This one was spotted chilling out at one of the pontoons on the outer Great Barrier Reef. Stuart supports the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre located at Fitzroy Island. You can help our flippered friends too by visiting the centre or making a donation.
Stuart has dived and filmed with whales in Iceland but you don’t need to be that hard core. This picture was taken in the much warmer waters around Fitzroy Island. Humpback Whales migrate here for the winter. Top tips on getting a good photo: Long lens, fast shutter, lots of patience.
The man behind the lens
Now that’s a camera! Stuart is equally passionate about the water and his family. When he gets to combine the two, happiness is complete. Stuart is pictured here with daughter Samara as he was about to explore the flooded Undara Lava tubes. Just for something different from his usual saltwater environment.
There’s a message from the man behind the camera for visitors to the GBR seeking ‘The Great 8’. “This is an amazing marine environment, home to many wonderful creatures. I am inspired by being able to share this underwater world with you. Please treat it with respect. Take only photos, leave only bubbles. Don’t touch the corals or the critters. We all have a part to play in keeping the Great Barrier Reef great!”
Stuart is owner / operator of Calypso Reef Imagery Centre. As well as renting underwater cameras to visitors, he employs a number of professional underwater photographers, who are out and about on several Cairns reef boats taking photos of people enjoying themselves on the Great Barrier Reef. Underwater photos are the best and most sustainable souvenir you can take with you, from your time on the reef. Making memories.