Diver's underwater encounter with Dougie the dugong
JENNA Lindberg got the surprise of her life when she went diving at Barolin Rocks on Wednesday and made a new friend.
Miss Lindberg, who is studying a double degree in journalism and marine science, said she was ecstatic to dive with a dugong.
"My brother, mum and I came up to Bundaberg to visit our grandparents who live in Bargara and we recently decided to start diving again so we booked a double dive with Bundaberg Aqua scuba at Barolin Rocks," Miss Lingberg said.
"We had our first dive around Barolin Rocks which is a really beautiful site and the weather and visibility was perfect.
"After the first dive we came up for about 30 minutes and actually joked about not spotting any dugongs and most of the dive crew said they had never seen any dugongs either."
But all that was about to change.
"So on our second dive we joined the larger group of open water students for their last dive out to find an artificial reef," Miss Lindberg said.
"We had been swimming for a little while and had stopped to regroup when this dugong just flew down from the surface and landed right in front of us all and luckily in front of me as I was the only one with a camera.
"He (or she) just seemed extremely curious about what we were doing."
Miss Lindberg said it had been an amazing experience.
"After a little bit it swam back to the surface and came down again a few metres away from us and we drifted over toward the dugong again and it swam back up to the surface then came back down one more time but a lot further away," she said.
"It was an amazing experience and such a close encounter, it was a real highlight of our trip."
Bundaberg Aqua Scuba owner Julian Negri said the dive students were surprised by the curious nature of the dugong which had him investigating them closely.
"If you don't do anything outrageous they are very curious," he said.
"They will come up and have a look at you, circle around and stay close."
The experience is sitting at the doorstep to the region known as the Woongarra Marine Park and there is no need for boat to see the exotic sea animals.
The area is covered in hard and soft corals including gorgonian sea fans and beautiful soft corals.
There is a range of other sea life which included sea snakes, tropical fish, resting turtles, stingrays, gropers and wobbegong sharks.
Mr Negri said the dugongs would normally stay in the area for a week or two eating the sea grass which was a couple of hundred metres off the shore.
He has been in the industry for 20 years and said there were plenty of good diving spot around the region and had his fingers crossed in hope of the Tobruk being sunk offshore also.