Thursday, April 19, 2012

Great Barrier Reef



Friday the 13th marked the day of our first dive adventure in five years. In 2007, we had the foresight to grab our Padi certification at the Red Sea in Egypt before child planning. It was a four day excursion with our own instructor and boat and we left feeling ready to conquer the world reef by reef. Five years later our dive book had a grand total of 6, all from our certification course. Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. Two weeks ago we booked 3 dives on the Poisiden, but they canceled at the last minute due to rough seas. That didn't deter us from pursuing another dive company. We had come too far to let a few waves and showers spoil it for us. We had a few novice hiccups on the first dive, including 30 knot winds on the surface and a weight belt more interested in visiting the sea floor than staying on my waist. Our dive master Macca took it all in stride and was very polite about our rudimentary skills. Macca was a very quiet Kiwi who had spent years diving in Asia and I felt nervous about accidentally smashing into the reef in front of him. For the most part we followed him around like a puppy dog and I got the feeling he noticed it.


All in all we completed three 45 minute dives and saw a spectacular array of wildlife. Here is the breakdown:
- Great Barrier Reef Dive 1: The Point. Wildlife Spotted: Gray Reef Shark, Sea cucumber, giant clam
- GBR Dive 2: Agoncourt II or Turtle Bay. Wildlife Spotted: Napoleon Fish, Clownfish, flounder, lobster, stingray, jellyfish, sea turtle
- GBR Dive 3: Stonehenge. Wildlife spotted: Starfish, parrot fish, angel fish, star eyed puffer, more clownfish.

Before and after shot of the day

I found the diversity of coral at the GBR better than the red sea. The visibility, however, was much poorer on the day we went and in order to see the true colors you had to really swim close to everything. The water was warm (22c) which was more relaxing and we were able to wear lycra instead of full wet suits. We could have gone without suits if it weren't for the jellies. Seeing a shark in the wild was worth the whole dive to me. They are completely fearless and terrifying hunters. I looked carefully for some hard to spot scorpion fish and sea slugs, but didn't see any. Paul and I made our future "to-dive" list on the boat ride home under heavy seasickness medication and clogged ears. A sign that it was well worth the $2k+ spent to check that experience off our bucket list.

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