Day 44 - Another Great Barrier Reef Day

Trip Start Jan 11, 2012
Trip End Apr 14, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Thursday, February 23, 2012

We walked down the beach after breakfast this morning to find a school of stingrays right on the waters edge.  We stood in the shallow water and watched them move around our legs.  Whenever a shark came into view the rays would move off as a group and when the coast was clear they would move back in close to shore again.

We started today with a swim at the gantry. It is amazing how many thousands of fish we could see all at once.  Every once in a while a shark would swim through the schools and surprise us.  At one point I was nose to nose with a four foot black tipped reef shark.  He was less than 3 feet from me and I could see his rows of teeth.  I was thankful when he veered off to the right and swam away.  At one point a parrot fish brushed up against a shark and the shark turned and snapped at the fish.  It was a movement very similar to dog that had been poked by a child one too many times and gives a little warning snap.  The movement was so lightning quick it was startling.  I then decided never to pet any sharks, ever.

In the afternoon we took a boat passed the shallow reef and parked on a buoy where the drop off to the deep was.  We snorkeled along the wall for about an hour.  The variety of fish and the colors of the coral were absolutely amazing.  We also saw a juvenile turtle swimming in the open water.  He probably weighed about 200 pounds and was considered to be a small turtle in comparison to the fully grown ones. 

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest and most diverse reef system in the world.  It is not one continuous barrier but is a broken maze of reefs spread along 2300 Kilometers of the East Coast of Queensland.  It contains about 2300 individual reefs, 300 Coral Cays and 600 Islands. 

Before dinner we went down to the beach to see the turtle hatchlings.  We made it just in time for the tail end of an explosion.  The seagulls were relentless.  They pick off all the babies before they make it 10 feet.  It is actually kind of heart breaking.  Lesley, Eric and I surrounded one little guy that was being eyed by a bird and escorted him the 30 feet to the water.  It was low tide so the bids can actually get them after they have arrived in the water.  We protected him as long as we safely could. He seemed to be free of the seagulls and would have to work his way through the sharks on his own.  All up and down the beach there were people doing the same as us and you could hear cheering when the baby made it to the safety of deeper water without becoming seagull food.  No wonder only 1 in 1000 live to adulthood.  It made us want to congratulate the ones who survive.

Dinner this evening was supposed to be an Aussie BBQ but it was lacking in anything that resembled BBQ.  Even Lesley said there wasn't any typical backyard Barbie fair.  We had fish and veggies and called it a night.  We were all tired from the hours we spent in the ocean today and from chasing 450 pound turtles around all night last night. Also,it was starting to rain.

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Other Mom on

EEEEK....sharks and sting rays. Doesn't sound like my kind of fun. Be careful and come home with all your toes! Sure sounds like you are having a wonderful time. Lovins...

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