Published: June 24th 2012September 24th 2011
It was an early start this morning to head to the boat for the reef trip, but it was worth it. I met up with Emily, a former Rotary Exchange Student I met through my volunteer work with that organization (we sent her to Hungary) who is doing a university semester in Australia, and some of her friends from uni. They were in Cairns during a school break. I also met a really nice family from Victoria. It was great to have people to talk to while we were on the boat.
The other times I've been snorkeling (Snorkelling Virgin
and You Better Belize It!
) I'd still felt like I was invading a world I didn't belong in, so I wasn't sure how the day was going to go.
It was fine. More than fine. It was wonderful. There were heaps of fish, giant clams, and even a squid racing by at one point. I admit, when I first jumped into the water it took me a moment or two to calm my breath down and get used to breathing through the snorkel, buth then I felt totally comfortable in the water. Maybe it was experience, or maybe I was better educated about
being in the water--no thanks to the onboard marine biologist who got on a soapbox about protecting the oceans and saving sharks.
It's not that I don't value her points (don't eat shark-fin soup, don't fear sharks, don't pollute the oceans), but it would have been far more interesting to learn about the Great Barrier reef and the critters who live there, or even how Cyclone Yasi affected the Great Barrier Reef.
When we arrived at the first snorkel spot (I've forgotten which reefs we stopped at that day, and my emails to the company requesting that info have gone unanswered) it was time to get ready to go in the water. I'd lathered up with sunblock on the way there, so I struggled into the wetsuit I had been assigned (getting in on made me much more self-conscious than once it was finally zipped up) and made sure my underwater camera was secure.
I took my time getting into the water, and once I was comfortable, I swam out to the reef. I felt much more comfortable than the other two times I'd been out, due in part to the fact that it wasn't low tide
so I didn't have to worry about accidentally touching/kicking the coral. I could have stayed in all morning, watching the fish below. Once or twice I was startled when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something red swimming right near my face. It turned out to be nothing more than one of my own braids moving around in the water.
We had lunch en route to the second spot. I opted not to struggle back into the now-wet wetsuit. Instead, I put on my own UV suit - no added buoyancy or warmth from it, but better sun protection (I could already feel a burn on the back of my leg where I'd missed a spot with the sunblock in the morning).
There was more of a swell in the afternoon, and the tide was lower, so navigating around the coral mounds was a bit like being in a garden maze. At one point, a squid swam by--it was fast (too fast to get a picture of) and colourless and very cool. It was definitely one of the highlights of the day. Other highlights included:
- Seeing lots of anenome and anenomefish. Even without
the anenomiefish, anenomes are pretty cool
- Seeing giant
clams -I'm sure they were about a meter across
- Seeing a school of surgeonfish
- Being followed around by a curious scissortail sergeant
- Wine and cheese on the boatride back to Cairns
There are more photos below