Issue# 134, 2013

Welcome to our Summer issue of Quickies,

keeping you posted with some of our latest news and happenings.

Wow, what a year it has been! And what a way to top it off - the Quicksilver Group has again been acknowledged as the best Major Tour and Transport Operator at the prestigious Queensland Tourism Awards for the second year in a row! Adding to that Pro Dive Cairns was recognised as amongst the best Adventure Tourism Operators in all of Queensland, taking home the Bronze.

We also had a right royal visit recently with the honour of hosting the Queen's Baton on its journey around the Commonwealth nations in the lead up to next year's Commonwealth Games.

In 2014 we look forward to welcoming the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) being hosted in our beautiful part of the world and sharing the wonders of our dual World Heritage region. Chinese New Year is also around the corner with the "Year of the Horse". With the horse fittingly being a symbol of travel and victory, we also look forward to welcoming our Chinese guests aboard. In the meantime, from night diving nature's spectacular coral spawning, rescuing Harry the Hawkesbill Turtle and rare whale sightings, we hope you enjoy catching up on our latest news showcasing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

As the year draws to a close, we'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a safe festive season and a prosperous 2014. In the meantime, enjoy a break with our latest Quickies! With warm tropical wishes from the Quicksilver Group Crew.


Quicksilver Group awarded Queensland's Best!

It was a wonderful night of recognition for the Quicksilver Group at the prestigious 2013 Queensland Tourism Awards as we were named the State's Best "Major Tour and Transport Operator" for the second year in a row, announced in Brisbane on 22 November.

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Accepting the award on behalf of the Quicksilver Group, Michael Healy Group Director of Sales and Marketing, said it was a great honour to accept on behalf of all our staff and crew that work so hard to make sure we really do provide the best experiences across our range of Great Barrier Reef touring options every day for our visitors.

"We're extremely proud to be acknowledged for outstanding contribution to tourism, continued commitment to quality customer service and environmentally sustainable practices.

In addition to this award, Pro Dive Cairns was recognised amongst Queensland's best Adventure Tourism Operators being awarded the Bronze Award.

"The Queensland Tourism Awards are a benchmark of excellence within our industry. Being recognised by your peers is an achievement of which to be proud," said Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games Jann Stuckey.

As a result of winning the Major Tour and Transport Operator award, the Quicksilver Group will now represent Queensland in the nation's peak industry awards, the Australian Tourism Awards to be announced in February 2014.

The "Everest" of reproduction in the wild!

Coral Spawning on the Great Barrier Reef
With the water temperatures warm and the mood set by the November full moon, the "upside down snowstorm" on the reef as coral spawning is often described, was a spectacle to behold for lucky groups of adventure seekers travelling aboard our Cairns-based dive and snorkel boat Silverswift.

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Passengers from afar as Italy, France, Japan and elsewhere in Australia set out for a night of exciting night dives and adventure snorkelling to witness this annual phenomenon expertly predicted by our marine biologists to occur from 22-24 November this year.

"Coral spawning is the Everest' of seeing reproduction in nature and should be on every diver's bucket list," said Quicksilver marine biologist Russell Hore.

"A lot of factors need to align and predicting when this will occur is not an exact science but does rely on several environmental cues. To begin with, spawning tends to happen at night when plankton feeders are asleep (allowing eggs time to fertilise) and you need almost perfect tides, weather and temperatures.

"When a big boulder coral goes off, it releases an underwater snow storm and you get to see hundreds of bundles floating to the surface," he said.

"You know when it is happening. There's a slick on the surface and the smell on one hand, while on the other, most of the fish life are sitting on the bottom with distended stomachs. It's like they have stuffed themselves with Tim Tam biscuits!"

Coral spawning was unknown to science until 1982, when several marine biologists working on the Great Barrier Reef observed it in the wild for the first time. To maintain a consistently robust gene pool, corals need to have a sexual phase to exchange genes and this is the process known as coral spawning.

Photos courtesy of Xavier Kier ( pictured at Flynn reef ).

Royal visit to the Reef

Travelling aboard our aptly named Reef King, Great Adventures had the honour of hosting the Queen's Baton to Green Island to showcase Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef to the world. The Queen's Baton is on a 190,000 km journey to 71 Nations and Territories that make up the Commonwealth before arriving in Glasgow next year for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

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Quicksilver Group Managing Director Tony Baker said, "Great Adventures diver Craig Hardes took the Queen's Baton to a coral garden at Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef. We are very excited about our role in the Queen's Baton Relay and it brought back memories of the Sydney Olympics when we hosted the Olympic Torch in a world's first taking it underwater on its relay around Australia."

The Baton was received and carried onto the Reef King by Brian Cave, General Manger Operations and on arrival at Green Island, Sue O'Donnell General Manager of Green Island Resort travelled through the rainforest before handing the baton to Craig for the vision of the Great Barrier Reef.

Craig Hardes, a long term Great Adventures employee, said "It was a highlight and an incredible privilege to be able to hold the Queen's Baton and represent the Great Barrier Reef an icon of its journey around Australia."

The Baton was designed in Glasgow and holds the Queen's message which is inscribed on a parchment and contained in a transparent cylinder within a pure titanium latticework frame and illuminated from within. At the Opening Ceremony, The Queen will read the message and declare the games open.


Quicksilver Group engages European Representation

The Quicksilver Group is pleased to announce The Conjoint Marketing Group (TCMG) will represent all of our reef cruise products in Europe. The Conjoint Marketing Group is a well established strategic marketing and sales Company under the guidance of Owner and Managing Director Rhett Lego.

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Commenting on the partnership Michael Healy, Quicksilver Group Director Sales and Marketing said "We are pleased to be working with TCMG and Rhett is a well-respected tourism professional, who has over two decades in senior roles with the Tourism industry. Rhett and one of his senior employees Craig Smith will be responsible for representing the Quicksilver Group. Rhett and Craig have both developed a very strong and respected reputation in Europe key markets and we look forward to working with them."

Rhett Lego said "At TCMG we are very proud to representing such an iconic Australian tourism product very popular with the European trade and consumer. It has been one of my strategic dreams that we represent the Quicksilver Group here in Europe and now our job is to get out and tell the great story that is Quicksilver in Cairns and Port Douglas."

See "The Zoo" to meet Craig Smith on his recent tour of the Great Barrier Reef!

Turtley Terrific by Two

A small Hawkesbill turtle named Harry is helping to solve the mysteries of a turtle's missing years, while Di the Green Sea turtle has set out on a new adventure and life at Low Isles after being released.

Marine experts know that all turtle hatchlings instinctively head out to the open ocean once they are born. These early years of all species of turtles are known as the lost years'.

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What is unknown are the hatchlings life history, feeding, dispersal or recruitment methods to the tropical reefs. While information regarding their life is scarce a small hawksbill turtle, named Harry by the crew, was found swimming around our reef cruise vessel Silverswift at Flynn Reef recently in distress.

The Silverswift crew rescued the hatchling turtle and brought it back to the mainland to be assessed by the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. About the size of a hand palm, Harry is thought to be about 3-6 months old. Jennie Gilbert co-founder of the CTRC said "this is the smallest hawksbill turtle that has been brought into the centre and this size is rarely seen in the wild until they are larger. "We do not know where they go or how far they travel at this age".

Dougie Baird, Environment Compliance Manager for the Quicksilver Group said, "To see a turtle of this size is amazing. Turtles are struggling currently and for every 1000 turtles that hatch only about one reaches adulthood so it is important that we gain a better understanding of these young turtles and their habits."

Harry the Hawksbill is believed to have floaters syndrome and has now started eating squid and prawns, and while he may be in care for many months until recovered enough to be released, his prognosis is good.

So while one turtle was rescued, Wavedancer from Port Douglas assisted in the release of Di the Green Sea Turtle at Low Isles on Friday 8 November. Di was found in Port Douglas and is a juvenile about 10-15 years old and had been in care for 12 months. CTRC chose to release Di as close to where she was found and with the turtle population at Low Isles we are hoping she will find a few mates to swim and play with.

Di the turtle was also the star of the TV show "The Wild Life of Tim Faulkner" who assisted in releasing her back into the waters around Low Isles. Pictured below being released at Low Isles.

Rare sighting of mother and baby Sei Whale

Passengers and crew aboard our Port Douglas-based dive and snorkel vessel Silversonic were excited to witness a rare sighting of a mother and baby Sei Whales while travelling between reef sites.

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The Sei Whales, which remain on the endangered species list, were seen by Silversonic about 2.5 kms west of Agincourt 3 Reef. Shane Down, Skipper of Silversonic said "The adult was approximately 15-18 metres long and the calf 6-7 metres long. It appeared the mother was cruising and the calf was playing and trying to engage mum in her antics. They were about 150 metres from the vessel and it is quite early in the season to see these whales."

Quicksilver marine biologist and Environment Compliance Manager Doug Baird, said they are quite inquisitive and the key to identifying a Sei Whale is through the distinguishing feature of a single ridge extending from the blowholes to the tip of the upper jaw.

Silversonic had first recorded sighting one of these rare whales in January 2008 and our last sighting was in January 2012.

The Sei (pronounced "say") Whales are among the more elusive of the large whales and are rarely seen inshore preferring the deeper oceans. They are one of the fastest whales with bursts of speed up to 55km/hr. The Sei Whale is very similar in appearance to the Fin and Brydes whales being long, streamlined and having a V - shaped head which is flat on top.

Growing up to 20 metres and 30 tonnes, they are the third largest of the baleen whales, after the Blue Whale and the Fin Whale. Their body is dark grey with a paler underside. It has twin blowholes with a low splashguard to the front.

The Sei Whale is a filter feeder, feeding on small schooling fish, squid and crustaceans. It feeds by swimming at a relatively high speed, opening its jaw which causes it to engulf up to 18,000 gallons of water. It then closes its jaw and pushes the water back out its mouth through the baleen, allowing the water to leave while trapping the prey. They can consume up to 2 tons of food per day.

In general, the Sei whale migrates annually from cool and subpolar waters in summer to temperate and subtropical waters for winter, where food is more abundant and mating occurs. The Sei Whale is on the endangered species list with reports of less than 54,000 in the world.

Inbound UpNorth

During the recent Inbound UpNorth showcase, we were delighted to wow and host over 40 inbound tour operators and delegates aboard Quicksilver's Outer Reef cruise to experience a multitude of reef activities at our Agincourt Reef activity platform. Hosted by NQ ATEC, the event enables our region, experiences and products to be showcased through workshops and events such as this.

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

I'm dreaming of a Green Christmas... A Green Island Christmas of course! A sumptuous Christmas Day lunch on a tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef is certainly a special way to celebrate Christmas and the chefs at Green Island Resort's Emeralds Restaurant have been busy creating a wonderful menu full of fresh seasonal produce and traditional delights.

As well as a treat for house guests, there are limited seats available for day visitors to join in the celebrations at Green Island. For more information contact the crew at Great Adventures Reservations on 4044 9944 or email [email protected]

Rob the Activities Officer's Island Insights

Green Island Resort's resident Activities Officer, Rob Lewis, leads a wonderful array of fun and educational activities for resort guests to enjoy. Here's what Rob has to say about the nightly Fish Feeding Presentation...

At 5pm resort guests have the opportunity to join us for our daily fish feeding on the jetty. It's a great opportunity to spot many of the local species; our giant trevally, the wonderful flowery cods "Gazza" and "Shazza", batfish, some lovely black tip reef sharks (don't worry they're very friendly), and many more including a few exciting gate crashers.

Here's Cheers to Ocean Spirit

Guests travelling aboard Ocean Spirit's Michaelmas Cay cruise are now in for an extra treat on the homeward journey. After a day on the reef and as the sails are hoisted, a complimentary glass of sparkling wine will be served. For children and those not wanting an alcoholic beverage, a cordial juice will be available.

Low Isles adventure for local school kids!

It was a day of carefree fun and adventure for the grade 7 classes from Alexandra Bay, Mossman and Wonga Beach schools as they set sail for a complimentary trip aboard Wavedancer to Low Isles. Donning a lycra suit, snorkelling with turtles and learning about our amazing backyard was the order of the day.

Each year, Quicksilver is delighted to host hundreds of local school children with free visits to experience the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef on Low Isles. Quicksilver offers all Grade 7 classes in the Port Douglas region free educational visits to Low Isles travelling aboard Wavedancer to promote conservation issues. Our team of marine biologists are also actively involved in school environmental programs and proud to support the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority "Reef Guardians" program.


While all of our guests are VIPs, we've had the privilege to host a few more famous and recognisable personalities aboard our cruises recently.

  • Ms Rodeo Canada swaps a saddle for a snorkel
    Gillian Shield, the reigning Ms Rodeo Canada, swapped a saddle for a snorkel when she travelled with Quicksilver to experience the Great Barrier Reef. Travelling to Australia on a promotional tour, Ms Shields the Great Barrier Reef and Port Douglas was high on the list of places to spend time. Michael Healy, Quicksilver Group Director Sales and Marketing said, Canada is a strong market for Port Douglas and the Canadians and Aussies have a strong affinity with each other. We are confident that Gillian's visit will add profile to our region in Canada and reinforce to our Canadian brethren that Port Douglas and The Great Barrier Reef continue to be a must visit for all travellers from Canada.

  • More gems on the Reef with the Opals!
    Jenna O'Hea and Alice Kunek from the Australian Opals women's national basketball team had a great time experiencing the underwater jewels at Agincourt Reef with Quicksilver.


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10th Annual Quicksilver Group Christmas Appeal

In the spirit of giving, our Quicksilver Group Annual Christmas Charity Appeal is now in its milestone 10th year of supporting our local charities at this time of year. The donations provide some much needed food items and gifts to help make the festive season a little brighter for many people in need in our community. Sincere thanks to all of our staff, industry colleagues, suppliers and friends who have contributed to assist our local charities of St Vincents de Paul, The Salvation Army and the Douglas Community.

BIO BITS - Quirky Fish Facts

While it's the season to be silly, here's a few quirky fish facts to enjoy!

  • Did you know two of the main reasons fish change their colour? One for camouflage to hide from predators, and the other for species recognition - so they can find a mate!

  • Did you know some fish make sounds? Many damselfish such as humbugs and anemonefish (Nemo) actually make chirping sounds.

  • At night parrotfish construct a mucous sleeping bag in which they sleep. It most likely helps to prevent predators from smelling where they are.

  • Fish cannot close their eyes because they do not have any eyelids. However, they do sleep, some lying quite still on the seabed tucked between corals.

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Introducing Craig Smith

It's been a whirlwind visit as we were delighted to welcome to Cairns, Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef our new European representative, Craig Smith. Sampling the delights of our region and travelling aboard each of our wonderful reef products over a 10 day visit, Craig has emerged our newest ambassador and a diver too, seen here meeting one of the locals while diving with Silverswift!

Originally hailing from across the Tasman in New Zealand, Craig is based in the Italian Adriatic Riviera resort town of Rimini, south of Bologna.

Craig can be contacted at [email protected]


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POSTCARDS - To Quicksilver

Thank you for a great day out. All of the staff are just great. They made all of the customers feel that they cared about their experience with Quicksilver on the day. The facilities and activities on all levels were second to none. Over my 26 years with Qantas I have continued to recommend Quicksilver to my passengers if they are visiting Cairns and I'm pleased that the experience I had 25 years ago is still the trip of a lifetime for anyone wishing to visit the Great Barrier Reef. Well done to all of your team.

L Callaghan


  • Magnificent Movember Moes: It's been a little hairy around Quicksilver of late thanks to Movember and some outstanding moustache efforts. Fortunately, most of them have now also been dealt with a sharp razor! While having a bit of fun, the boys raised many hundreds of dollars for men's health during the annual Movember cause, which also appeared to be a great excuse to bring back the moustache.
  • Christmas Day Operations: The following cruises will be operating on Christmas Day:
    - Quicksilver Outer Reef Cruise.
    - Great Adventures: Great Barrier Reef Adventure, Green Island & Great Barrier Reef Adventure, Green Island Eco Adventure and Green Island Discovery.
  • FREE Wi-Fi: Our dive and snorkel adventure vessels Silversonic and Silverswift, and Pro Dive Cairns' liveaboard fleet all provide free unlimited Wi-Fi - even when 50 km offshore! Green Island Resort guests are also able to access free Wi-Fi from the Coral Cay guest lounge.
  • Ocean Spirit refit: 32 m (105ft) Ocean Spirit is currently undergoing a refit including a new upper deck fitout. The hulls are also having an innovative and environmentally friendly hull wrap applied replacing the need to paint the hulls or the application of anti-foul. She'll be back at work again showcasing Michaelmas Cay in mid December.
  • Wavedancer Shines: Meanwhile our 30 m (98ft) sailing cat Wavedancer's annual refit, part of the Quicksilver Group's ongoing rigorous maintenance program to ensure we're 'ship shape' in every way, has her in tip-top condition and once again setting sail for a wonderful day at the idyllic Low Isles.
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