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Cairns – The Great Barrier Reef

March 4, 2011 by Chelsea Slone

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The Great Barrier Reef located on the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia remains to this day one of the most mesmerizing wonders of the natural world. Known to be the world’s largest structure built by living organisms made up of nine hundred islands and three thousands coral reefs, this phenomenal structure can even be seen from outer space. However, size is just part of the magnificence, as it is also home to a wide diversity of life. When comparing it to any other location in the world, an amazing fact about the Great Barrier Reef is that every single cubic meter contains several unique species of animals and plants.

Our trip out to the reef began on a cruise from Cairns where we spent the entire day snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing through the incredible coral sea. The day began with a one hour boat ride to our destination in the outer reef, during which we were given option to spend a portion of the day scuba diving if we so desired. After facing my fear of the ocean with the dolphins, I got up the courage to say I would go, thinking to myself if there is one place I’m going to dive deep down into the ocean it might as well be in the Great Barrier Reef, right? So as soon as we reached our destination and the boat came to a stop, Tyler and I made our way to the scuba diving dock to get our gear and head out for my first ever scuba diving experience. As I’m sure you can imagine I was shaking in my flippers by the time I actually had my on wet suit, mask, and ridiculously heavy oxygen tank. We headed down for the moon pool, which was my last chance to back out… but I decided I was yet again determined to go through with it! As we began the process our guide lead us to a rope anchored to the bottom of the ocean used to slowly guide ourselves down deep into the ocean floor. Once we were near to the bottom our guide motioned the direction to us and we followed him beginning our under water adventure. We slowly began to swim around the dock and were suddenly surrounded by vibrantly colored fish and orange coral reef. When we swam directly above the living coral if we started to venture too close the small organisms would retract for protection just like you see in the movie Finding Nemo, it was incredible! Right when I thought I couldn’t be more amazing, the biggest fish I’ve ever seen pops right up in front of me! The scuba instructors had told us about this unbelievably large fish before we went under. They named him Wally and say he is like a dog, because when they first discovered him in the area they began to feed him and now every time they dive down he comes around to say hello and of course get more food. Time flew by in the water and before we knew it was time to head back up to the boat. As soon as we got to the surface and could talk again Tyler and I immediately said how awesome it was and we both decided we wanted to go again!

Before our cruise out to the reef Tyler and I decided to rent an underwater camera. After being a little upset about not being able to capture our dolphin experience in the water, we decided we just couldn’t miss the opportunity to have pictures here. So while waiting for our second dive we decided to go snorkeling and take some pictures of the colorful fish. We just so happened to be in the water when the crew announced they were going to to feed the fish from off the side of the boat. As they began to toss the food in it was fascinating to watch the fish swarm from every direction under the water and in just minutes we were surrounded by hundreds of them, all different colors and sizes.

After snorkeling for a while we got out to get suited up again for our second dive down. They had told us when we signed up the second dive down was longer and to another area of the reef a little deeper down. They also said there was a chance we would see white or black tip reef sharks, which are harmless to humans and not to be feared. We slowly began our second decent down the rope, which seemed to be more than just a little further down than the first time, making us even more anxious to see everything. We followed our guide out quite a ways where he led us to see many different types of fish and reef, including the exact Nemo type clown fish! As we were swimming around our guide abruptly stopped us to point at a very beautiful blowfish swimming our way. It’s unique leopard print body was definitely unlike anything we had ever seen before. We continued to slowly swim around the reef looking at all the amazing creatures around us when our guide motioned the shark sign slowing us down and pointing us in the direction before it quickly and bashfully swam away. The colors of the different reef and fish were such an interesting site to see. It was actually peaceful in many ways to swim around, unable to hear a thing, and explore the beautiful life near the ocean floor. Our entire day diving and swimming in the reef was truly an exceptional and breathtaking day we won’t forget.

After exploring the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns we decided to venture off from the touristy city to a more remote area. We headed north to the little town of Port Douglas, located on a narrow peninsula in the coral sea. Spending time in the plush natural environment gave us the much needed opportunity to catch our breath and really enjoy the beauty Queensland coast has to offer. Visiting this tropical area was a perfect way to conclude our time in beautiful country of Australia, in which we hope to see again one day!



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3 thoughts on “Cairns – The Great Barrier Reef

  1. oh my gosh chelsea these pictures are amazing! i am so jealous you guys are living the life!!!! be safe!!

  2. Amazing pictures, indeed! I read in another blog about that ‘2 cubic meter’ thing as well – they had a hard time finding Nemo, I mean, a clown fish! There are also Islands near the reef that look like paradise. The white-sand beaches and the clear waters make it look like Heaven on Earth! I wish I could go there someday.

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