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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