September 13, 2006

Cairns - Thursday

Today was the big event: diving the great barrier reef. It's the diver's event of a lifetime, I'm told (especially for those of us that live in the northeast and are surrounded by mucky lakes), and as such, it was a day I've been awaiting with much anticipation for nearly a year. Scuba diving is an amazing gig, to be sure, but it's a skill I haven't used in two years, since my honeymoon. It was a lot of fun then, despite the extraordinarily small boat on the rediculously large waves of the day that nearly led to seasickness for both of us. My first ocean dive, three years ago, was in Hawaii, on a rather decent-sized dive boat. It was the sort of boat you go on only for diving; bare necessities, but large enough that it wasn't tossed by the waves.

This time, as every time I dive, was different. Quite different, in fact, and not just because of the location. Like an idiot I forgot my towel, and as such am currently indebted to my wife for the use of hers. The boat - or rather, yacht - we dove from was a twin-hulled monstrosity with all the modern amenities; toilets, showers, air conditioning, windows XP (apparently they trust a Dell to control the GPS and navigational systems - take THAT, apple), and, of course, a bar with beer and wine.

And the diving ... oh, the diving. Even now, thinking back on it (despite my headache from a bouyancy issue I had at the end of my second dive), I'm nearly drooling. Fish everywhere, in schools packed so tight that it was hard to see the coral behind it. And such diversity of sealife! - barramundi, a thousand varieties of coral, sea cucumbers (the infamous sand-eating slugs of the sea), giant clams, angel fish, clownfish, anemonies, and many others.

I've never seen such colors underwater. Diving Hawaii was pretty good, but the reef was extremely young (relatively speaking, due to the nature of the volcanic activity in the region) and so all the coral was a sort of dull greyish-brown color, punctuated only by the many tiny (yet brilliant) fish that lived there. The barrier reef is extremely old, dating thousands of years, and the time has given it a chance to grow to staggaring proportions. As with everything in Australia, things out on the reef just get big; some of the angelfish we saw were the size of my chest, and given the amount of tim-tams I've had since we got here, that's saying something.

More words cannot describe what I saw out there today. Instead, I'll leave you with something else: pictures. Liz and I rented a digital dive camera today, and though its battery died halfway through the second dive, we managed to capture a few gems (and yes, every one of these were taken by either Liz or myself). Enjoy them - we certainly did.

Clownfish in an Anemonie, aka Nemo and Marlin

The Reef is a Colorful Place

Batfish in Open Water

Barramundi are Protected on the Reef

School of Fish

Baby Giant Clam

Sea Turtle


Priscilla said...

That sounds cool! Great pictures!

Sarah said...

*drool* can you email me all the pictures you took on the reef. PLEASE??? Those are GOREGOUS!!! I now I really wish that we could've gone to Australia this year. *sigh* Guess I'll have to wait till I get my chance sometime in the future.

Christop said...

Hey, I don't think it's a barramundi. Barramundi live in rivers. Could be a potato cod, but I'm not sure.
Nice photos, though!

Chris said...

Matt assured me it was a Barramundi. He was salivating as he said it though, so maybe he wasn't thinking straight. I'm told barramundi were made a protected species, and they're one of his favorite spear-fishing exploits, so ... I don't know a thing about fish though, so you might be right.