So these beauties are from Reef Day 2 on the Falla - we were able to go to the Falla's primary site last week! The sun peeked out here and there, it was a mostly overcast but considerably more calm day out at sea. The water was a gorgeous turquoise and crystal clear, so I was definitely able to see more reef than my first trip to Fitzroy, but for some reason the colors aren't coming through on the photos? Advice? Anyone?
Anyway, we traveled 18 miles off the coast of Cairns to two different sites. I was volunteering this time around, so helped out with serving tea and getting guests fitted with flippers and masks. After we got everyone in the water, it was my turn! I hopped in, snapped a few photos of the fish haning around the boat, and was off to see the reef. The ocean floor, and, subsequently, reef were considerably deeper at this spot, so I was glad I had secured my camera to a trekking pole I brought with me from Nepal.
When we pulled up to the mooring buoy, Glena signaled to us there was a shark below, but by the time I could get in the water it was gone. Doug guided us over to the anemone, took a dive and teased out all the Nemo clownfish from the purple waving fingers. They were adorable, and I was ecstatic to see them in real life! Finding Nemo definitely makes my Top 10 Fav Movies list, so I was especially looking forward to seeing a clownfish in the flesh (or scales, as it were).
We floated over a smallish section of Reef, and I blinked a few times: it seemed to be moving, growing first on the bottom right, then around to the middle, then up the left side... I was a bit confused to peeked my head above water. "Octopus!" Doug smiled. My camera was dead, and my mask kept leaking since I was smiling so huge, but I stayed for some time, hovering above the octopus, watching it move - it's such a fascinating creature! It can not only chameleon the colors and tones of it's skin to match the surface it clings to, but it can manipulate it's shape to match the texture and form of the surface it's attached to as well. SO COOL! So here's a sweet video to give you an idea of how they work, the first part is about the ocean in general, but the very last part about octopi (octopuses? Merriam- Webster seemed inconclusive on the plural of octopus) is astounding:
Volunteering was such an enjoyable experience, that I head out again tomorrow morning. After three days of helping out, I can do an introductory dive! Which I'm super pumped about, because though I'm loving snorkeling, I'm ready to get down there and see this stuff close-up! Truth be told, diving scares me. The idea of breathing while underwater... it just doesn't seem to make sense in my brain. But people do it (safely, I might add) all the time; I understand logically that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Plus, it'll be the best way to experience the GBR!
So, as a Christmas gift to myself, I booked my Diving Open Water Certification course, which includes a 3 day liveaboard on the Outer Reef for January 7-10th! I also signed up for an eight day liveaboard volunteer position that starts a few days after I complete my certification (which includes 3 dives a day - score!) so will get to spend heaps of time out on the Reef very shortly!!! So pumped!
I've also been spending some time exploring the trails in the neighboring Barron Gorge National Park, part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage site - I'll tell you what, running in the rainforest certainly is a different experience than my mountains at home! I was on the constant lookout for critters while trying to avoid the twisting roots jutting out of the ground, and learned to avoid the dangling, well, I don't know what they were, they seemed like stems of some sort. They had burs that grabbed on and held tight, drawing blood and taking chunks of hair as they pleased - I learned to dodge those real quick!!!
I made my way up to the Glacier Rock lookout, and climbed up a little tree to catch a better view of Cairns, the lagoon, and ocean beyond. It was a stunning scene, and I can't wait to explore more of the trails during my last week up here in the jungle!
Time is flying - I've been so grateful to have had the time here at Mel and Cam's to rest and recoup from Nepal, and am really looking forward to spending some solid time on the Reef shortly I'll be sure to get my underwater picture-taking skills dialed by doing all these day trips in the meantime! Happy Trails!