Week 19/4 - The Great Barrier Reef!!!

Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
Trip End Dec 27, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Thursday, July 11, 2013

Today was a day I had been looking forward to for sometime. Today was the day we were going snorkelling on the reef! Given that all the talk about town had been that there were windy conditions out to see, we were half expecting that the cruise might be cancelled, but thankfully luck was on our side and out we went.

Armed with Pam's Dramamine, we braved the bumpy ride and found that as we approached the first stop at Pearl Reef, the water calmed significantly. Whilst not perfect conditions, it was still an amazing experience. I was amazed at how high the reef was, literally within the top meter or two of water. The reef was made up of a psychedelic collection of weird and wonderful coral, some hard and some soft and swaying with the tide. They were every colour and some even appeared to have a luminescent glow around the edges.

Throughout the day we stopped at three different reef sites all on the outer reef. The array of fish was amazing, I later learned from the inboard marine biologist that we saw dozens of different fish including Peacock Rockcod, Stocky Tilefish, Lined Butterflyfish, Neon Damselfish, Chameleon Parrotfish, Striped Surgeonfish, Needlefish, Squirrelfish, Lizardfish, Trumpetfish, Yellow Stripe Snappers, Batfish, Blue-Green Cromis, Bleakers Parrotfish, Coral Rabbitfish, Mimic Surgeonfish and even a huge Maori Wrasse. What seems to be the case is that the vast majority of these tropical fish are either named after other animal or instruments!

By and far the most amazing siting though, had to be the green turtle that hung around with us for a wonderful length of time. It swam right beneath me, before diving deeper into the depths of the coral and then resurfacing for air. Simply wonderful!

During the lunch break the on board marine biologist spoke to us with great passion about the interconnected ecosystems of the rainforest, mangroves and reef. We learnt about how the nutrients that the reef needs to survive originate in the rainforest and are filtered by the mangroves. He also spoke about the damage that we are inflicting upon these ecosystems and implored us to do our bit to help stop the damage.

Our evenings entertainment was rather less spectacular, although, still a unique and first time experience. We joined Pam, Mary, Del and Kate at the Iron Bar, with it's whacky outback shearing shed decor for a flutter on the cane toad races! Well, they do say the Aussies will bet on anything :)
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