I found Nemo! (At the Great Barrier Reef)

First of all, it feels amazing just to get to go to the Great Barrier Reef. I feel so lucky that I get to see all these things that I’ve heard about for so long. But my first trip out to the Great Barrier Reef made me wonder about the health of the reef.  A lot of it seemed brown and white and covered in silt-  dead. One of the staff on the boat said that you have to have both dead reef and live reef, and that it’s balanced, but I just didn’t see the colors that I’ve always seen on tv/movies about the reef. But I DID see a lot of dead coral, which I’ve also been hearing about for years. Whether it’s due to run-off chemicals and pollutants, global warming, or even to invasive species (I’ve heard about a starfish that kills everything in its path), it’s definitely not as bright and colorful as I expected.

Is it just me, or does this look like Spaghetti Vognole?

My first reef experience was with a company that has a permanent platform on the reef. I’ve just read since then that this can be a contributor to dead reefs, as well, because birds perch on the platform, defecate, and instead of it ending up on the land and acting positively as a fertilizer, it goes into the water and the reef where the nitrogen and the toxins in it kill the coral.

But my second trip out to the reef was with a company that does NOT have a permanent platform- it takes its boats out to a small reef island, Michaelmas Cay, and drops anchor there for a few hours. This reef seemed more colorful and alive to me. I saw different fish on each trip, but it wasn’t until this one that I saw turtles and clown fish and even a ray hiding beneath the sand on the ocean floor. Oh, and the giant clams were amazing. Some have these iridescent spots that change from a greenish aqua to a full blue, depending on the light. The variety of coral was impressive, too. I even got to touch the coral, and to pet the friendly parrot fish!  It was like having a fish puppy.  😉

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been spoiled by free cousin wi-fi in Sydney and Canberra, and the harsh reality of paying for it per minute in Cairns has led to some pre-written words here. So, look out for some photos of my Cairns highlights this weekend. I’m definitely looking forward to the reported near-ubiquity of free wi-fi in much of SE Asia… where I guess I’ll already be situated next week!

Cairns has been great. I’ve accomplished some serious highlights here! I’ve snorkeled and scuba-ed in the Great Barrier Reef, where I even got to pet some enormous friendly fish. I also got rained on in the Daintree rainforest and went crocodile-spotting on the river. I drank some rainforest tea and ate some rainforest-flavored ice creams. I’ve also had enormous bats swoop past my head, widely furling out their wings into the distinctive Batman/vampire symbol. When there are thousands passing over your head at night, as if on a night sky bat conveyor belt, it really does feel a little spooky. And today… today, I cuddled a koala!! Don’t I look happy? 🙂