Finding Nemo and much more

Trip Start Jan 31, 2012
Trip End Jul 29, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Monday, February 6, 2012

 This was one of my most anticipated days of the two weeks that I’m spending in Australia. The day that I got to go out onto the Great Barrier Reef! My day started very early, since I had to be at the marina by 7 am. I had booked a trip out to the reef on a boat called Ocean Freedom. The reasons I chose this boat were for the max tour group size, the passenger to crew ratio, and the large amount of time spent on the reef.
 We spent an hour and a half getting out to our first spot for the day. For those of us snorkeling, they spent half an hour explaining the basics to us. I’ve never snorkeled before but it was pretty straight forward. They also told us where to swim, how to stop our masks from fogging up and the like. After that we got fins, masks, and if we wanted a floatation vest, and then the let us go. When I first got into the very warm ocean, it felt very weird keeping my head under water as I took a breath. It took a few tries, but after that I got pretty used to breathing normally while keeping my head underwater. The other trick that I had to master was only breathing through my mouth and not through my nose. This took me a bit longer to get locked down. After that I started exploring.

  My experience on the reef was amazing! We had a great spot, with lots of coral and life going on right near our boat. Most of the reef that I saw was only 2-6 ft away from me. Most of the coral was teeming with life, with fish swimming around, and doing all of those things that fish do. They all seemed completely unperturbed by my presence so near by. It was great, just looking down and seeing fish act normally in their natural habitat. Being able to see all of this going on so close is an experience that I’ve never had before in any environment. Getting to be that close and watching animals act naturally, not to mention the beauty of the water and seemingly endless coral. It seemed like something out of a documentary or movie, it was unbelievable. After spending a long time in the water, we had lunch then raised anchor and went to a second location to repeat the process. The second time was more enjoyable for me since I was much better at snorkeling by that point. I saw more great sea life and coral, some of the coral here was just a foot from me, to where I had to be careful not to kick it when swimming. Some of the coolest things that I saw were: giant clams, Nemo and Dori (the captain like to joke about “Finding Nemo”), a sting ray, a jellyfish, and my favorite were two different encounters with sea turtles within just 5 or 10 feet of me! Another of my favorite experiences was a couple times I’d be swimming, then turn around to find a school of 20 or 30 fish swimming around me, instead of below me, just minding their own business and just treating me like another harmless fish. After spending the afternoon at this location, we went back to the port where I had a quick dinner and happily went to bed nice and early after such an eventful and rewarding day.
 This has got to be one of my favorite experiences of all time. I’m having a hard time putting into words what exactly made it so great. I think the strong sense of connection with nature, and seeing so much natural life and beauty going on so close is such a strong feeling. Also I think that in a way it helped me connect with myself, because you’re out there, and you can’t hear or interact much with anyone else. It’s just you slowly swimming along viewing this incredible work of nature going on all around you, placing you in awe. I would have happily gone out to the reef for at least a couple more days if I had the time.
J Smith
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Mom on

I just read this for the first time and I'm going to reread it immediately. My heart is beating hard, I am SO excited for you. The first time I snorkeled was with Grandpa Bill and I had the same reaction. I could not believe how awesome it was. That's why I taught Dad on our honeymoon! We ran into giant sea turtles right off the beach of our campground. But you're at the best reef in the world!!!

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