Saturday, July 21, 2012

Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef

If you had asked me two years ago about my top ten travel destinations, the Great Barrier Reef would not have been on it. Instead, places like Russia, Paris (x a million!), Machu Picchu, and the Pyramids would have topped my list. It's not that I didn't want to visit the Great Barrier Reef—I just thought it was too exotic, too far out of my world of possibilities.

Flash forward to last month and we're snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, amazed at the vast number of fish and coral species that coexist in this maritime wonder.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the world. There are over 2,900 individual reefs and they span across 16,000 miles. You can even see it from space! It's actually considered the world's biggest living organism because all of the reefs are connected into one system.
A bird's eye view - looking down on the reef from our plane


The reef system is estimated to be between 6,000 and 8,000 years old. The sad news, though, is scientists speculate that within 90 years, the Great Barrier Reef will disappear due to coral bleaching caused by global warming. The optimum water temperature for corals is 79–81 °F—too much higher or too much lower and they die. It is a sobering thought and I am very conscious of how lucky we are to experience Australia and the rich diversity that it offers.



Below are some more of our photos from this amazing trip. Be warned - if you visit us in Australia, we might just drag you to Queensland so you can see it, too! :-)

                     ^`.                     o
     ^_              \  \                  o  o
     \ \             {   \                 o
     {  \           /     `~~~--__
     {   \___----~~'              `~~-_     ______          _____
      \                         /// a  `~._(_||___)________/___
      / /~~~~-, ,__.    ,      ///  __,,,,)      o  ______/    \
      \/      \/    `~~~;   ,---~~-_`~= \ \------o-'            \
                       /   /            / /
                      '._.'           _/_/
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Is that a....?
Hello there, Mr. Shark. Not to worry - this big beautiful guy is a white-tipped reef shark which is not aggressive towards humans.


A nudibranch





So many little blue fish!
Not sure what these little guys do, but I love their pipe cleaner shape!
Some of the fish were bigger than my head!

Several of the fish could be seen feeding on the coral

My favorite sea creature - Drew, tuckered out after a long day of swimming