Diving With Turtles and Sharks on the Great Barrier Reef.
Ok, to start with, we’re in a new continent: Australia. We flew from Bali to Singapore, to Brisbane and onto Cairns, which is a good launching point for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, which lies off the northeast coast and is composed of over 2000 individual reefs. It is the only sign of life on earth that is visible from the moon.
Budget-wise, Australia is a slap in the face after Southeast Asia; we’ll be pinching pennies from here on. We did some research and booked a multi day “live aboard” scuba diving trip on the Reef Encounter, a 35 meter catamaran. I highly recommend the live aboard experience to anyone interested in serious diving. It affords the opportunity to do several back-to-back dives, as well as night and early morning diving.
A highlight for me was my first night dive. Heather had dove at night once before and found it creepy, so I hired a guide to accompany me. Diving at night is indeed creepy, particularly the first time. You carry an underwater “torch”, a flashlight that gives you a narrow beam of light in a literal “sea” of darkness. It is unnerving, because your field of vision is so abbreviated that you would have no way of seeing a predatory fish if it came at you from below, behind or the side. Exactly the kind of weirdness I crave. Oh, and by the way: at about 40 feet down I spotted a White Tip Shark.
A more ethereal moment came during our last dive when we were cruising along the bottom and looked up to see a giant sea turtle swimming gently a few meters above us, munching on a jelly fish. It was pure magic to inflate our BC (an artificial buoyancy device) and float up so we were eye-level with the creature as it regarded us with sleepy, benevolent eyes.
We have a few more days here in Cairns before we fly down to Sydney.