Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Great Barrier Reef

The Whitsundays: what kind of name is that for a conglomerate of small islands? honestly! "Out here on the Whitsundays, the whit of Sunday afternoons here is unparalelled." I dunno, the name bothers me. It's the area we went sailing around where a section of the great barrier reef can be found.

Anyway, even though I didn't get to dive and most everyone else did I still had a blast snorkling. Snorkling is really fun. At first it was a little scary, all that coral and those strange and quite large fish, and then suddenly I'd pass over the coral which is just below the surface and it would just drop off and there would be this great abyss suddenly before me and I'd just barely be able to make out the sea floor 30 or 40 feet down and for some reason it was a bit unnerving. Nevertheless I forced myself to learn how to free dive. At first the thought of diving down into the water toward the seafloor was unfathomable, but when another snorkler acted as if it was nothing to dive 20, 30 feet down I felt I owed it to myself to get over it and after awhile it became easier and easier and I learned how to equalize properly although sometimes my ears wouldn't equalize and I wouldn't be able to dive very deep. But the times when I did, it was really cool swimming among the coral, and diving deep into chasms and chasing fish. At one point I suddenly found myself among a school of really big, funny looking fish. They reminded me of the giant dope fish from Commander Keen 4! They were really big and well, dopey looking and had giant, goofy looking front teeth just like the one's from Keen! When the fish, even small ones, would eat at the coral, you could hear their teeth scrape against it. I almost touched the tail of one of the "dope fish". I was literally a millimeter or two away. But it's extremely hard to touch any of the fish because they just move out of the way at the last second even when there's tons of little ones swimming all around you. You cannot touch them no matter how hard you try. One big ugly fish was just sitting in a dark cravasse among the coral cleverly camouflaged with it's mouth open and a little fish swimming about inside. I came back about ten minutes later to see that he hadn't moved but there was no longer a fish swimming around in its mouth.

Pixagogo direct photo link

I found the small fish to be just as fascinating as the larger ones. Watching them shimmer and swarm about was really neat. Found Nemo a couple times (clown fish). Didn't see any giant sea turltes though. :( It was like discovering a whole new world I never knew existed even if I saw similar stuff on the Discovery Channel. Real life of course doesn't compare at all. I felt pretty good about myself for learning how to snorkle properly. I didn't buy an underwater camera so I have no pictures, but I have posted some pictures of the fish I saw from Google.

Pixagogo direct photo link

We walked among dozens of stingrays in the shallows of Whitehaven beach where the sand is white as snow and just as soft. I crawled along in the shallow water behind a small shark. Chasing the sharks was fun but it was entirely pointless as you didn't have a chance in hell. I was following one for about two minutes as it just slowly cruised along. But they could dart off like a sudden bullet if they wanted too. Very cool. They were only about a meter or so long (maybe 4 feet).

Pixagogo direct photo link
Helping put the sail up.

The guy across from me couldn't swim and fell overboard. He managed to hang onto something on the side of the boat before the dive instructor jumped in the water and rescued him. At the end of the trip he finally got the nerve up to go in the water with floaty tubes and a mask to peek the world that lay hidden just a few feet below the surface.

Glorious sunset from the boat.
Pixagogo direct photo link

I was reading a book about the youngest person (a 17 year old Aussie) to sail around the world alone without stopping and unassisted. It was really fun to read while sailing along. Just thought I'd share that. Reading the book made me want to plan a proper adventure for myself and maybe some likeminded friends?

The boatPixagogo direct photo link

No comments: