Dirigible in Douglas

Trip Start May 13, 2010
Trip End Jul 03, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So I began the day with some breaking and entering.

It turns out that the bus for my snorkeling trip leaves at 8, and the kitchen at parrotfish doesn't open until then.  So how am I supposed to get the food I bought?  Answer; break in.  I did this with the assistance of a nice British fellow and retrieved my own milk and cereal.  I swear I have done more dodgy things since coming here then my whole life beforehand.  Great fun.

The trip out to the reef was nauseating as usual.  I had a nice chat with a French family before it got windy and the splashing drove us inside.  I was glad to get into the water.  Even snorkeling I could immediately see more than I had at the dive sites further south.  Here at Opal reef the visibility was about 35m, even better than usual apparently.  The coral was much more beautiful and the colours brighter here than at the more southerly reef, and I'm glad I saw it.

It was kind of funny to look out over the reef and see all those snorkelers splooshing along, some with brightly coloured pool noodles for support.  They looked like some sort of exotic boat spawn drifting away from the parent.

I had asked one of the crew for a good direction to go, and I just set off that way, slowly drifting along and watching the scenery.  In some places there were coral islands, and I often circled these slowly looking at all the occupants.  I drifted over the hills and coral valleys, looking down and feeling rather like a self-directed dirigible.

I found snorkeling much more relaxing than diving - no equipment to haul around, no ticking clock, and no safety concerns other than a periodic check on the distance from the boat.  I did start feeling a bit ill from all the waves, which continued to be significant even on the reef.  Not a problem with diving, but there's always a trade off. 

One other advantage of snorkeling is the way the fish treat you.  When you're diving, you're this slow-moving object that sounds like Darth Vader.  When you're a snorkeler you can float motionless, you're much quieter, and I think the fish are more willing to get close to you.

Here's some what I saw;
Red and white clownfish,
Small black fish with a white tail
A blue stripped cleaner fish cleaning a red parrotfish and even going inside the gills
A 6' long giant clam, and then an even larger one that I could have curled up inside.  The lips had fluorescent blue dots (sensors) and the interior (as viewed through a water port) was green.
Many schools of little fish
Fish with fangs
Sea cucumber, black with speckles.
A goby living inside a hole/tunnel
A black dogfaced puffer
a bright yellow butterfly fish
barracuda-large, small, and in schools
A triggerfish? with an orange tail
A yellow trumpetfish (I've never seen one before!)
Maori wrasse
An angelfish with a black spot
Schools of black fish with blue edging
Schools of tiny fish darting just beneath the surface
echeainoderm (a sponge with shrimps)
two tiny red seastars
a black unicornfish
black fish hovering around the rocks
a purple seasquirt
A parrotfish joining a school of another species.
a blue forest of choral
a huge brain coral
a black fish with blue spots warning parrotfish away.

After the afternoon snorkel, I decided to purchase one of the photos the trip photographer had taken.  I think it's great!  Next time I'll  bring a waterproof camera.  When he gave me the photos, he even threw in a free one, which was very kind.  He also turned out to know the bus driver I'd been traveling with, which was fun.

The trip was great, I took it with Haba.  The window on the boat dripped water into the cabin, but they had a very knowledgeable crewmember who talked about the sea creatures, and the importance of preserving the reef while being quite funny at the same time.  I had to fight to get a wetsuit in the afternoon though, they didn't quite have enough.  It was cool enough that by the time we had to come out of the water, I was shivering even with it.  I was still sunburnt though, wherever the suit didn't cover me.  I did the exact same thing the last time I went snorkeling too, which made me feel particularly foolish, but it couldn't dampen a great experience.

When I got back, I had a nice battered fish dinner (barramundi, but it tasted the same to me) with salad.  One of the girls at the hostel was chatting with her honey, and she'd put a heart shaped frame around his face on the computer.  Kind of funny actually.

During dinner I watched Masterchef on the TV, which is turning out to be quite addictive.

B: Stolen cereal and milk and orange
L: (included in snorkeling trip) Pasta salad, salad, lunchmeat, bread, squares, cheese.
D: (15.50) Barramundi and salad
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