Saturday, December 15, 2012

Great Barrier Reef

Pre-departure for the Great Barrier Reef.
Today we shared the incredible experience of visiting the Great Barrier Reef. We took a catamaran from the Cairns harbor to Michaelmas Cay, nicknamed Bird Island, which is surrounded by 24 km of reef. The journey to the island took two hours, which went by rather quickly as we all took lots of pictures and soaked in the sun on the bow deck.

When we arrived at Bird Island we saw for ourselves that it's nickname held true. Thousands of birds were circling the air and nesting on land. Our scuba leader, David, informed us that these birds are able to continuously repopulate because no natural predators of the birds have been able to reach or survive on the island.

A few of us were lucky enough to scuba dive the depths of the reef and everyone who dove reported back that it was an unbelievable experience. Others were able to snorkel through the reef, seeing brightly colored coral, rainbow fish, sea turtles, stingrays, and countless other beautiful sea creatures. The snorkel experience was incredibly exciting and at the same time very peaceful. Knowing that the Great Barrier Reef is always changing gave us the special feeling that we were experiencing something so unique. Sharing this with our teammates and best friends has definitely been one of the most meaningful moments of the trip so far.

When we returned to the boat, the cabin crew had prepared a delicious buffet lunch for us starving swimmers, and before we knew it we were on our way home. Four hours at the reef sure did pass quickly! It was an experience that we will never forget, which we were reminded of when we returned with burnt (not too bad!) bodies.

After a quick shower and last minute planning of tomorrow's adventures, the juniors and seniors went to the restaurant, Tha Fish, right on the Cairns esplanade, to celebrate Bailey Johnson's '14 21st birthday. A couple of us tried the authentic Australian cuisine. Lindsey Allard '14 had gnocchi with prawns and bugs, a small type of shellfish, while Kelsey Johnson '13 had coral trout. Kara Lehman '15 had soft shell crabs for the first time! Overall the dinner was delicious and we were so happy to share Bailey's special day with her. Not a bad way to spend your 21st, eh? The freshmen and sophomores also headed out for a meal together for some underclassmen bonding.

To say today was amazing is an understatement. We were so lucky to experience the Great Barrier Reef as a team and with our coaches. Today was a day of accomplishments as many conquered personal fears, but today's game ball goes to Hana Bowers '13 who faced her fear of birds by taking on the ultimate challenge...Bird Island. After a long day in the sun we are ready for bed, but looking forward to another adventurous day tomorrow. Half of us will be visiting Green Island, while the brave ones (with parent consent!) are skydiving!

Until next time,
Lindsay Allard '15 and Kelsey Johnson '13