Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef

We were picked up at 7.30 for a day of snorkelling the great barrier reef and taken to the harbour in Port Douglas. We went with Wavelength tours and had a Marine Biologist, Emma, on board with us. All of us ladies were worried about seasickness so took some tablets while James and Paul didn't. We were definitely glad we took the tablets as 2 girls were very ill on the boat, 1 never made it off the boat all day. It was pretty choppy and a 2 hour slog to the first dive site.

We stopped at the first site, Opal Reef, and get into our stinger suits to protect from jellyfish, even though its the end of the season and unlikely the type that sting would be about the suits were SPF 50 so no sunburn or so I thought...I must have missed my fore head as I have a goggle line! We got a talk on how to fit our goggles and use a snorkel, I was actually a little nervous as we were miles out to sea and it was quite choppy even though the coral is shallow. We were advised to buddy up so we made a trio with James and Miranda. I had a few issues with my mask and snorkel at the first site, I got some water in the pipe and swallowed some water, then breathed in through my nose and it went up there too, James saw I was panicking a little and took me back to the boat so I could sort myself out. Miranda was distracted by the fish and saw us at the boat a few minutes later. After I got myself sorted we headed back out, holding hands this time (James suggestion) and I felt more relaxed! We saw loads of different fish and coral but the best spot was a 1.5m reef shark that was just chilling on the sand at the bottom and didn't seem to mind people snorkelling round him.

At the second site we were giving the option to go on a reef tour with Emma or the deck hand, we got in the first group with Emma. She pointed out different types of coral and picked up a sea cucumber for us to feel, slimy on top and a little rough underneath! One guy shouted turtle while we were treading water, I got lucky and dipped under and saw him turn and swim away before the group splashed about scaring him off. It was quite big and it's shell about the size of a cushion, swam away pretty quick though. Emma also found a couple of clown 'nemo' fish for us all to swim by and demonstrated giant clams closing by waving close to them. The colours in the coral and fish were amazing and everything seemed to come more alive when the sun came out.

At the third site the coral was much closer to the surface due to tides and it was a little tricky to swim around but easier to spot stuff. My favourite fish was the one that's called 'Gill' in Finding Nemo, or it's proper name is a 'Moorish Idol', it's colours and movements were fascinating. I've put a picture up from the internet :) I found it interesting how the reef works, with some fish staying more or less in one location and others moving around. There was a small fish that acts like a cleaning service, larger fish queue up and wait for the small fish to go inside its mouth to clean it, the larger fish will watch how good a job the fish does before deciding if it wants it to do him or will move on and to find another!

One of the funny things we saw were squid lined up, there were about 18-20 of them and looked like they were getting ready to race or go on a military march!! I actually thought they were cuttlefish but James said they were squids, not too hot on my fish identification!!

James had an underwater camera and got some really good photos of the coral as well as us in our suits diving, I'll link some in once they are uploaded. It was such a fun day and I was so glad not to be seasick and got my snorkel working, it definitely got easier as the sea calmed, it was hard work swimming against the current, avoiding the coral and breathing through the snorkel!

We were all shattered after a long day so had a BBQ in the villa and played card games. We played the longest ever game of cheat and Paul really came into his own in 7s, he loved it when he knew none of us could go and got really cheeky!!

The boys went to bed early and us girls stayed up chatting for ages, a lovely end to the break up north.

Love Nikki xXx

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