Friday, April 04, 2008

the great barrier reef

It's about 815pm Aussie time, and it's been another bonzai day. Right now I'm sitting in the coolest internet cafe called re*hab and it's got the best coffee and its a really cool hip little place. I think I need to open an Australian coffee shop in America! I'm having an affogatto which is a shot of espresso over ice cream - and i have a bit of mocha on it. Yummo.

I went Scuba diving on the Silversonic out on the Great Barrier Reef today. I did 3 dives so now I'm an old pro. ;) I feel confident enough to go diving with the sharks... It took about an hour to get out to our first dive site, and leaving Port Douglas you could see all the tropical hills silhouetted against the ocean and it was very beautiful, with a few scattered clouds and the ocean all silvery blue with the morning light.

The first dive was at "Barra Bombie" - translation "Barramundi Bombie" and a bombie is a round-shaped coral site. I dove with the certified divers and when we were going for our first dive of the day they were just like "ok jump" - and it was like 4 feet below. You use what's called the giant stride entry where you just take a giant step into the ocean but it's not right under your feet. And the crew were like "go go go" to everyone one after another... and I was like, I feel a bit nervous... but I just went... and it was fine. My mask was not fitting too great but I just focused on getting comfortable with the diving and seeing what I could see. The coolest thing was seeing a whole stretch of the sandy bottom with all these garden eels poking their heads out of holes in the sand. Wow! It was soooo cool. Also saw a couple of blue-spotted stingrays at that site.

After the first dive my right finger was numb & I was like, dude I've got the bends! ha! I was kidding but then after the second dive at Turtle Bay (a "drift dive" with a big coral wall) BOTH my hands were completely numb - and white! I realized I was just cold. Which was weird because the water temp is 27 degrees C - which is quite warm. The other group of 4 divers saw 3 reef sharks but I didn't see any & was bummed. The diving was really neat, but the reef isn't as colorful and bejeweled as I remember from the early 1990s. I don't know if that is my incorrect memories, or because it has been degraded... it looked similar to the reef I snorkeled at in the Whitsunday Islands with the kids in 2006 though.

Anyway our last dive was at Turtle Bay. No turtles though... The cool things I saw: lionfish and leafy scorpionfish, a blue tang (aka "Dory" in Finding Nemo), clownfish and anemones (aka "Nemo" in Finding Nemo), unicorn fish, parrotfish, triggerfish. On the 2nd dive I got to hold this 3-foot long pineapple sea cucumber which was soooo cool. It's little tube feet stuck onto my hand. There were several sea cucumber species and I just think they're gorgeous. Isn't it weird what we find interesting? Someone else may find sea cucumbers totally boring but I think they're amazing.

Cat and I ate dinner at salsa which is a restaurant here in Port Douglas and it was really good. And now I'm tired and we have a day tomorrow in town before the Undersea Explorer hits the high seas. We leave about 5pm. I have no idea whether I'll get email out there or not so if not you can check my adventures at the Discovery Channel Shark Week blog - I wrote my first entry "Fear" and it should be online soon. I feel like I'm still rocking back and forth on a boat... I'm sure I'll feel that way for many days ahead.

1 comment:

Brian Shmaefsky said...

Sounds like heaven! Glad you are enjoying - what a life experience.