Opal Reef spout

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

A LO­CAL ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist has cap­tured a daz­zling water spout on cam­era just off Opal Reef.

Suzanne Gar­rett was with her team out on Wave­length who were just about to jump off the boat to snorkel when they no­ticed the phe­nom­ena about one kilome­tre from the pop­u­lar dive site.

“We have been hav­ing some im­pres­sive squalls out there in the last week,” she said.

“We watched the spout ro­tate and move along with the squall and af­ter about two min­utes it was gone again.”

Water spouts usu­ally ap­pear as a fun­nel-shaped cloud that oc­curs over water.

They do not suck up water as of­ten mis­tak­enly pre­sumed - the fun­nel is cre­ated by water droplets formed by con­den­sa­tion.

They are weaker than their land-based coun­ter­parts, how­ever they are recog­nised as se­ri­ous ma­rine haz­ards, and a con­sid­er­able dis­tance should be main­tained.

“They’re not an un­usual oc­cur­rence and more preva­lent in trop­i­cal cli­mates,” a spokesper­son for the Aus­tralian Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy said.

“When­ever there are large con­vec­tive clouds over water there is the po­ten­tial for them to oc­cur.

“The for­ma­tions are com­mon over land and usu­ally harm­less, named ’dust devils’ or ’willy-willys’, it’s when they hit water that they be­come more vis­i­ble.”

Photo by SUZANNE GAR­RETT

On the hori­zon:

the water spout off Opal Reef

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