Callie's Australian Study Abroad - Spring 2005 University of the Sunshine Coast travel blog

Spacious bathroom/shower. There were 4 of them between 40 guests.

Sunset

Another picture of the sunset.


I got my first glimpse of the Great Barrier Reef today, the largest coral formation in the world. The Great Barrier Reef stretches more than 2000 km along Queensland's northeast coast.

When we woke up today it was gloomy and rainy and so I was a little concerned. Fortunately, by the time we made it out to the reef it had cleared up and turned into a beautiful day. The company we ended up going through was called Deep Sea Divers Den. To my complete shock, I would be the only one snorkeling for the day. I felt like quite the dork, but I just kept an open mind about it. Sony Fischer (from South Africa), head curator at UnderWater World, told me he preferred snorkeling over scuba diving on the reef and so that was reassuring. I soon came to find out that I was definitely at an advantage compared to all of those scuba diving. I would have my own guide for the day! As a snorkeler I was able to jump in before the scuba divers and was able to get a glimpse of things before they were spooked off. I wasn't in the water a minute and David, my guide, pointed out a Black tipped reef shark. As a snorkeler I was able to have a nice view from the top and saw much more than anybody else! Only to add to the contentment that I was snorkeling, one of the staff members cracked a bit of a joke saying that the only type of coral on the bottom was dead coral. I got to see the pretty coral on top.

The beauty of The Great Barrier Reef is mind numbing. Just looking down into the water was breath taking for me let alone jumping in and seeing the spectacularly colored surroundings. I just can't describe how magnificent my day was on The Great Barrier Reef. I was in awe the whole day. I had finally realized the reason I was placed at the internship I not so long ago despised. It may not have provided me with the experience I desired as a business student; however it gave me knowledge of the aquatic life that proved to be priceless. I actually knew what I was looking at and I found myself educating David on things we were seeing. I'm not trying to say I was a know-it-all though because I learned heaps over my two days on the reef. I guess this proves just how educational places like UnderWater World can be. I would ask David if there was something in particular that I could see and he would bring me right to it. He was also my eyes and was able to pick out things I wasn't able to see and made sure I saw them.

The visibility today was stunning and the current wasn't bad at all. I was told it was pretty much as good as it could get. I literally felt like I was able to see everything, I felt like I was the luckiest person in there world. Here is just a taste of some of the things I remember seeing:

Black-tipped Reef Shark

White-tipped Reef Shark

Napoleon wrasse

Sea turtle (I was swam right by it as it glided effortlessly through the water)

Sea cucumbers

Clown fish (Nemo) lets just say I saw oodles and oodles of them, of all types

Sea stars

Trigger fish

Unicorn fish

Parrot fish

2 stingrays (one of which was a blue spotted ray)

bat fish

butterfly fish

lobster (david called it a crayfish)

mantis shrimp

Tridacna Clams(gargantuan ones at that, up to a three foot long shell)

Pacific Barracuda

By the time the end of the day came I was completely shot. I had one heck of a farmer's tan going on and a pair of gnarly blisters on my heels. By this time I was so tired I couldn't think or see straight. After a quick gaze at the stars I laid down for bed where I literally felt like a baby getting rocked to sleep. The boat we slept on was called Ocean Quest. It is 28 meters in length and can accommodate 40 live aboard passengers.

The pictures I've posted just don't do justice. It was so amazing there!

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