Drum roll and welcome to guest blogger Dan.
G’day guys, Dan here, and it’s my first time writing a blog post so go easy on me! Today I’m writing to you about my experience scuba diving the largest living eco-system in the world … The Great Barrier Reef.
I’d been in Australia about four months before finally getting to the reef and man was I excited. Up at the crack of dawn, I sleepily shuffled over to the marina docks in Cairns to board the diving vessel. My trip was with Pro Dive Cairns – Silverswift. I was warned at departure that sea conditions were ‘moderate’. Being a naive 22 year old I assumed moderate meant normal. Oh, how wrong I was.
The boat set sail at about 8:30, on a course to the outer reefs, which are in better condition than the reefs closer to shore. The journey took about 90 minutes and felt like nothing less than a water rapids ride – minus any of the fun. I’d taken full advantage of the complementary breakfast buffet at departure. Filling myself with muffins and several cups of coffee. Major mistake. As we approached the outer reefs, half the passengers on board looked like they were fresh off the beaches of Dunkirk circa 1940. Many divers were clutching paper bags, I myself had expelled all of my breakfast overboard, whilst being assured by the crew that “it happens all the time”. But enough about vomit, let’s talk diving!
Each dive was approximately 40 minutes with a depth of around 15 – 20 metres. The first of the three dives that day was largely uneventful. No sharks or turtles were spotted, it was largely just seeing some coral and getting back into good diving habits. We swam through a minor cavern area, where I and my fellow divers kept crashing into each other in the narrow spaces.
The second dive was much more what I imagined. Almost immediately we were greeted by a friendly sea turtle! Something I was so desperate to dive with in Thailand was finally in front of me. Just a metre away from my face! Seeing it casually feeding in the corals was fantastic, and it was completely unfazed by our presence.
We continued to swim amongst the corals, searching for more elusive fish. We found a clown fish! Nemo was a cool little sight to behold, swimming around the anemone. I knew better than to try and touch the stinging anemone.
After resurfacing and grabbing a bite of lunch (a cautiously small lunch at that) it was time for the final dive. The last dive was the strongest of the day. Within five minutes of hitting the ocean floor (approximately 20 metres deep) I saw a shadowy figure skulking just above the floor. A shark! Not the biggest in the world, but I’d guess it was about two metres in length, still capable of causing a fright if you’re not expecting it. The instructor told us it was a yellow tip shark. We tried getting a closer look, but it quickly swam off when it noticed the clumsy tourist divers approaching it. We also saw multiple sea turtles on this dive, again, completely unfazed by their proximity to us. Sadly we didn’t encounter any whales, it wasn’t the right time of year.
After the final dive the journey back to shore was smooth sailing, and I immediately hit the hay (diving is tiring alright!). I absolutely loved the day, truly unforgettable and it was certainly a highlight of my time down under.
If you’ve seen the Great Barrier Reef on the internet in the last couple years, it’s probably attached to an article about the damage that’s being done to the reef. I can confirm that large portions of the coral on the reef are dead, or seriously bleached. It’s a real shame because the damage has been done primarily by rising sea temperatures, courtesy of global warming.
Many reef scientists believe the damage is beyond repair and that the Great Barrier Reef will die in just a few years. My advice would be get yourself on down before it’s too late. I feel blessed to be amongst the last divers to witness this truly natural wonder, even if it’s in final years.
And that just about wraps this piece up,
Cheers guys and happy travels!
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