You are able to see this from space!
Day 74 Moore Reef
It looks a beautiful day for a trip to the reef; blue sky and little wind. Check in is very easy, picking the tickets up from the terminal and making our way down to the berth where our boat is docked. The photos start immediately we reach the gang plank. Two young photographers stalk the passengers throughout the day taking photos which can be purchased at the end of the cruise. Mark is in his element smiling and posing while Marcus and I grin and bear it.
Once on the boat we settle down with coffee for the 90-minute journey to Moore Reef, a horseshoe reef near the outer reef. The catamaran is fast and very bumpy and I’ve forgotten to take my seasick tablet. I sit staring at the horizon trying to combat the feeling of sickness. The coast line is beautiful with forested hills down to the sea where mangroves stand in the water. The sea is a turquoise colour and the beaches pristine white.
The journey is spent listening to sales pitches for different optional extras which are available once out on the platform and being given health and safety instructions. Helicopter rides are available which would give spectacular aerial views of the reef, however, planes are proving to be enough of a trial for me and the thought of being in a helicopter is terrifying. One of the marine biologists delivers an interesting presentation on the coral reef; it’s history, composition, plant and animal life and conservation. Marcus and I sign up for a guided snorkel tour of the coral gardens with the marine biologist and get the first time slot.
Once docked at the side of the platform we exit the boat and find a table with shelter (it is blistering hot in the sun). We all grab lycra stinger suits, advisable as it is the stinger jelly fish season, we actually see no jelly fish, but they also act as a barrier to the sun and the water is pretty cold out here. These suits are not the most flattering of swimwear as they make you look like a beached whale, but they do the job once we’ve struggled our way into them.
We grab flippers, masks, snorkels and floatation vests. Its murder trying the flippers on for size as they need to be put on in the water. Marcus and I join the marine biologist and with another couple set off from the platform. We stay together round a floatation ring and are given a relaxed and educational introduction to the reef. It is amazing; the colours of the coral and most importantly the hundreds of different fish is vibrant. The lagoon is sheltered with clear visibility and brightly lit by the sun. We learn about the coral formations and the types both soft and hard with close up examples. We also meet Wally the big humphead Maori Wrasse who swims up and around us.
The tour lasts about 30 minutes and once finished Marcus and I join Mark to carry on exploring. Both of them lose the life jackets as they want to go deeper, but I’m happy to stay up top. This underground paradise is fantastic. Where the water is deeper, we are able to see larger fish and in the shallower water smaller fish darting in and out of the crevices in the coral.
Lunch is a hot and cold buffet including the expected prawns. There is a good choice and plenty to fill us. The rest is needed after spending 90 minutes in the water and I remember to take a sea sickness tablet for the journey back. Luckily there are snorkelling rest stations around the site.
After lunch we are back in the water. It is a little choppier this afternoon as the wind has picked up a bit. It is harder to move through the water due to the currents nevertheless we let ourselves drift with these and see different stacks of coral.
It’s feeding time at the platform. This is not only a fun spectacle as the fish hit the food (small fish) like bullets but also informative. The children on this trip particularly enjoy the activity. It does also bring a large number of bigger fish to the area which are interesting to see up close once we start to snorkel again. Mark manages to snap some photos of Marcus diving from the underwater observatory – he looks like a giant fish, so graceful in the water.
The last hour of the trip is spent on the Semi-Submersible and the glass bottomed boat. These take us to different areas of the reef and have interactive commentaries. We see larger fish and deeper water, including grey and black tip sharks!! I’m glad we didn’t do these tours this morning as it might have put me off going in the water.
The journey back on the boat is not quite as bumpy as this morning and I have taken 2 tablets but nevertheless I still feel queasy. Marcus enjoys an informative presentation on Crown-of-thorn starfish which are one of the largest starfish in the world and are destroying large areas of the coral reef.
On reaching Cairns port we disembark and make our way back to the car. We are all exhausted but have enjoyed a wonderful day on the Great Barrier Reef. Mark says it is one of the best experiences he has ever had.