Sat at home many of us watch the nature programs. Beautiful scenes from lands foreign to us, with exotic, colourful and even deadly creatures from across the globe. Soft tones of Sir David Attenborough fill our ears with information and facts on these sometimes alien looking environments.
One of the most talked about eco systems is that situated on the North East coast of Australia. The Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living organism on the planet. So large that it can be identified from space. Stretching 2900km and made up of 2600 different reefs and 900 islands it really is a wander to explore.
Hosting the largest collection of corals, sponges and over 1500 different species of fish, it really is an appetite for the eyes resembling an aquarium. You will not be disappointed with the chance to see 6 of the 7 species of turtle, excited dolphins, impressively sized whales, beautiful sharks and magnificent rays.
On a glassy calm day you see nothing but blue from the heavens down to the sea, with miles of emptiness ahead of you, or so you think. Until suddenly Poseidon’s underwater world appears below the surface. Visibility stretching down to the sandy bottom you can see the pallet of colours appear before your eyes.
There are a few different options on offer to experience the reef.
You can chose to view it from the surface, underwater or air. If you only have half an hour to spare or time is on your side to spend a week, there is a choice for you.
This is a brilliant way to explore the reef if you have the time. If you aren’t yet a certified diver you could gain your certification and still have time to put your training into practise after you have completed your course and go fun diving with a two night trip that offers eleven dives, including night dives.
Already certified? There are many different styles of liveaboards to choose from depending on what you want to get from your experience on the GBR. If you are looking for a more romantic get-away then there are vessels fitted out with beautiful cabins that are suited for a high end resort, a hot-tub on the bow to even the Bond style helicopter pad on the top level to get to and from the boat in style, some operations even offering a “top deck” experience with your own private dive guide and valet service.
Liveaboards are the only way to explore the outer ribbon reefs. These are much further from land and give divers the chance to witness deeper drop offs, larger pelagic species and whale migration. Possibly the best way to see the night’s sky, lying out on the sea, miles from light pollution, with just the sound of the water beneath you.
Being as Australia is a colossal sized country you may not have the time to spend a week on the reef, but not to worry you can still experience natures treasures in just a day.
A popular destination to visit the reef from is the beautiful town of Cairns. Providing easily accessible transfers to the reef by sail or engine power. Most operations provide the opportunity to dive & snorkel two different sites throughout the reef! You don’t even have to be qualified! If you don’t want to get wet, there are usually glass bottom boat tours so you can still witness Neptune’s natures.
Jumping in to Nemo’s terrority you will recognise many of the familiar residents, from Dori the palette surgeon fish, Crush the green turtle and of course Nemo himself hiding out in his anemone.
Reef by Sky:
if you want to see the reef from above, then chopper it is! To get a picture that is postcard perfect, then you will want to fly over the reef. Watching whales on the surface and the jigsaw pieces of reef and white sandy islands that build up the only non-man made construction visible from the moon.
However you choose to experience the reef you will not be disappointed. There is something extremely humbling about immersing yourself into one of nature’s natural wanders. Feeling so small on the scale of this reef system you cannot help but marvel this truly alien underwater world.
Unfortunately this remarkable spectacle of nature is in trouble. Scientists believe that around 93 percent of the reef is affected by coral bleaching. A phenomenon that kills the coral. When the sea water temperature rises the coral becomes stressed, so it expels the algae that lives inside the polyp which feeds it using sunlight and gives the coral its colour, therefore after the algae has gone the coral is left with nothing but a white calcium carbonate skeleton.
When snorkelling and diving this astonishing habitat please remember that we only have one Great Barrier Reef on our planet and it is our job to protect it. We must be responsible for our actions, and respect this ecosystem. Even with today’s impressive engineering and technology at our fingertips there is nothing we can do to get the Great Barrier Reef back once it has gone. It truly is one of the “Seven Natural Wanders of our World” and it is our job to keep it that way.