The Great Barrier Reef

Location: Cairns

Today was another exciting day, we scratched another item off our bucket lists and visited the mighty Great Barrier Reef. This was a “must do” on our trip because we felt that it couldn’t be postponed “until the next time” because of the damage environmental changes are having on the fragile eco-system.

Rachel and Ryan on  the catamaran heading out to the great barrier reef
Rachel and Ryan on the catamaran heading out to the great barrier reef

We boarded a large catamaran not far from our hotel and made way to Marine World about 70 km east of Cairns. Marine world is a semi-permanent barge floating above one of the large reefs. It is loosely enclosed to prevent boats from accidentally hitting swimmers. There, we got our first sight of the reef by looking at an underwater chamber with viewing glass to see the wildlife.  A few minutes later we donned our wet suits, flippers and masks and swam out onto the reef to snorkel.

There were fish everywhere. Some of the fish we had never seen before, not even in an aquarium or in science films. The reef was quite large and occasionally deep, but we stuck to the surface. There were dozens of variety of coral to see. Most of the varieties are those not found in the more familiar Caribbean.

Reef

blue fish

Reef2

Immediately following, Ryan began his first SCUBA session. It was a introduction course lasting around an hour but it was still great. Ryan went down about 6 m with an instructor and small group and got to see some deeper coral and larger fish up close.

Ryan getting suited up to dive the great barrier reef
Ryan getting suited up to dive the great barrier reef

Towards the end of the dive, he got a picture to touch ‘Wally’ the Giant Maori Wrassle. Wally is a staple of the reef and mascot of the Reef Magic tour company. He is essentially tamed, and is frequently photographed with the divers.

Wally the Wrassel
Wally the Wrassel

Later we took a semi-private tour with a marine biologist. We took around another nearby reef and showed us even more fish species. During the tour we encountered a whitetip reef shark.

Not a threat to humans
Not a threat to humans

Ryan Swimming in the reef

A school of fish swimming through a gap in the reef
A school of fish swimming through a gap in the reef
Ryan swims down to touch a piece of coral
Ryan swims down to touch a piece of coral

After the tour we had to board the catamaran and make our way back to Cairns and the hotel. A most excellent day!

Tomorrow we visite Cape Tribulation and the Daintree rainforest. And like nearly all other rainforests on this trip, we will get to go on a river cruise!

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