This is the official blog of my Study Abroad Trip to Australia and New Zealand. I'll be leaving December 26th and returning home February 2nd.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 10-12: We are...REEF EXPERIENCE!

Sorry it's been so long since my last blog. The class requires us to do only one blog for our entire free weekend so here it is.Our first free weekend has been awesome! Friday morning we took a little hike up to Koot-tha Mountain, one of the best views in Brisbane where there is an amazing view of the entire city. The hike was pretty difficult because it was such an extreme incline and I think you were typically supposed to drive up there because we walked all the up on the side of a fairly busy road. Soaked in sweat, we admired the view of the beautiful city of Brisbane.
Just after our hike Ben, Meghan, Patrick and myself started a mad dash all the way back across Brisbane to grab our stuff and catch a taxi out to the airport. We were headed to Cairns! It's the main port for the Great Barrier Reef. After a quick delay on the runway because a bird flew into the windshield of the plane in front of us, we were off. We were glued to the window during the entire descent absorbed by the beautiful landscape, and of course, the ocean. It's hard to even describe the coloring of the ocean. It changed from brilliant blues, teals, greens, and deep navy, but the crazy part about it was it still remained almost completely clear. We made our through the airport and took a cab to our residence for the weekend, the Koala Court Apartments. They were surprisingly nice for the low price we paid for them. Everyone had a bed and there was a kitchen and all the amenities of a great place to relax. We went to a nearby grocery store and grilled a huge spread of seafood, steak, and veggies. It was delicious. We decided to head to bed early that night because we had wake up early on Saturday for our Great Barrier Reef Trip!
Steak, Shrimp, Coral Reef Trout, Seafood Marina Medley, Grilled Asparagus, Grilled Peppers, Rice, and Grilled Garlic Bread. And wine of course.
The Reef Encounters Shuttle Bus picked us up bright and early at 7:10 am and we made out way down to the dock and hopped on the massive 82 foot catamaran and made our way out to the reef. They served us a hot breakfast before they got into all the logistics. We were enlightened of all the ship's safety protocols and taught the basics of snorkeling and scuba diving and then we had a cool presentation from the ship's on-board marine biologist that told us about all the marine life we could encounter today. Thankfully she told us large sharks don't typically come out into the GBR because of the lack of substantial food for these predators. Apparently sharks are masters of conserving energy and wouldn't waste their time unless there is guaranteed prey. And she also told us there hasn't been a single fatality from a shark attack in the Great Barrier Reef, EVER. And that you are more likely to die from a vending machine falling on top of you rather than getting killed by a shark. I only saw one shark all day and it was the size of my forearm and he swam away as soon as he saw me.
Our boat
The ride out to the first reef
Look at the colors in the water

The port where we shipped out

 Speaking of animals, there were so many cool animals that we got a chance to see in the reef when I was snorkeling and scuba diving. I forgot to mention that the instructors gave us a quick lesson in scuba diving and took us on guided scuba tour down through the reef where we reached depths of about 25 meters. I personally found scuba diving to be a little claustrophobic, but after I could relax my breathing the sights were worth the few minutes of discomfort. We saw fish of every color you could imagine, sea turtles, giant clams, star fish, sea cucumbers, a shark, and of course, jellyfish. They were everywhere! I got stung several times, but the jellyfish were so small it would just hurt for a little while but it didn't leave a mark. I had one large jellyfish sting me on the shoulder, but it has already started to heal the next day. I'll post a few pictures that the professional photographer that dove with the groups took of me and of the amazing wildlife. Today we flew back to Brisbane and shacked up in the Meriton Hotel Apartments, which is one of the tallest buildings in Brisbane's CBD with the top floors still under construction. It's really nice and we got a great deal on it. I'll check in tomorrow thanks for reading! War Eagle!
Picture the photographer took of me. Sorry for the awkward pose but I was kind of floating.
Pre-scuba training as jellyfish were floating into my bathing suit and stinging my legs.
Six-Banded Angelfish
Scribbled Pufferfish
Of course you have to see Nemo
Orange-Lined Triggerfish
Sea Turtle

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