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AUSTRALIAClerke ChannelRowley Shoals is one of the most remote dive locations in Australia with trips only available in October and November each year. It is hard to believe that nearly 300km from the protection of land, in season, the ocean is calm, with only a few ripples from the warm breeze.But the calm surface belies the power of the tides that pour in and out of the oval-shaped atolls each day. Funnelled through a few small channels, the tides gather tremendous speed, which makes for some truly adrenalin-filled drifts. One of the best is Clerke Channel, equally good dived or on snorkel.
On snorkel, as soon you jump in the water, the current tugs you away from the boat. Drifting from the outside of the atoll, through the channel, to the inside of the atoll, the incoming tide brings in clear oceanic waters, with great visibility, a good 20 to 30 metres.
The walls of the channel are lined with coral, and you can expect to see schools of snapper sheltering under coral outcrops and huge bumphead parrotfish chomping loudly on the coral. No need to kick, just relax and go with the flow – until you’re pushed out into the inside of the atoll, where the current dissipates. For the dive, you are dropped into the channel to drift outwards to the edge of the atoll – it’s one of the fastest drifts you’ll ever experience. There is no other option but to surrender to the tide, and zoom past the coral bommies, past the schools of sweetlips, bumphead parrotfish, and whitetip reef sharks.
When you’re finally spat out of the channel exit, you reach a site called Coral Gardens, where the pace slows to a gentle drift along a colourful wall, which drops down to around 50m. Did you know?Residents of the reefs include coral trout, clownfish, humphead parrotfish, Maori wrasse, Spanish mackerel, giant potato cod, dogtooth tuna and green turtles.
Essential informationLocation: Rowley Shoals, Australia Depth: 1m-50m Diver level: Beginner to advanced