Long before I became an actual certified diver, I had longed to dive The Great Barrier Reef. It was just so beautiful... full of color and life in a way that defied reality. Once I became a certified diver in 1986, diving The Great Barrier Reef was at the top of my bucket list.
Twenty-five years later, I finally got to check it off my list.
And it ended up being a bit of a disappointment. Thanks to Cyclone Yasi blowing through eight months earlier, there was significant damage to the reef and, while still beautiful and amazing, it didn't live up to the pre-Yasi splendor I had seen in photos and video.
I chalked it up to bad timing and promised myself that I'd return to Australia one day after the reef had recovered.
Except that isn't happening.
If anything, the reef has only gotten worse since I visited.
In an article I read today, 50% Of The Great Barrier Reef is now dead or dying and 93% is bleached.
I don't know if there's any chance of this horrible situation reversing itself, so I guess I should be thankful that I got to see what I saw when I saw it.
Because you just never know.
So now I'm starting to think I should start being thankful for everything that I got to see when I saw it.
And I try to be.
It's the places I haven't yet seen that's terrifying me now.
Will they even exist when I finally get around to going?
Not quite the awe-inspiring experience I was hoping for.
Even before I became a certified diver, I've longed to dive The Great Barrier Reef. It just seems like one of those things that everybody should have on their bucket list. And while my actual dives were nice, it was a fairly underwhelming day. At first I thought it was just me, but my German table-mates felt the same way. I guess we can chalk it up to overly-high expectations?
Or maybe not. Because when I spoke to the dive master, he had mentioned that our first dive site "Coral Gardens" used to be amazingly beautiful. But it was wiped out by a cyclone eight months ago. This begged the question "Why in the heck don't you dive someplace else then?" but I don't know enough about the region to even know how widespread the damage was*.
But oh well. Not every dream is going to turn out as we had hoped, and I've been luckier than most.
I still had a good time. I haven't been diving in well over a decade, but it all came back to me really quickly. I don't know how, but I had forgotten what a wonderful experience diving is. It's about as close to flying as mere humans can get, as you are neither sinking or floating... you just are.
I bought a new underwater camera for the trip, but didn't end up taking many photos. After I almost missed seeing a turtle because I was concentrating on my camera, I thought I'd put my attention to better use. There's just so much to see.
Here's a few snapshots I took before retiring my camera...
Sadly, no sharks made an appearance.
I know people think I'm joking but, having swam with sharks before, I was really hoping to see one. They are absolutely fascinating to watch. And, no, I'm not saying I wanted a man-eating Great White to drop in... just a regular shark would have been fine.
Though the nachos I had for dinner tonight were so bad that I found myself kind of wishing I had been eaten by a shark so I could have avoided the suffering.
For some inexplicable reason, Aussies mix the salsa into the chips & cheese when they make nachos (instead of serving it on the side). This makes absolutely no fucking sense, because the chips on the bottom end up a soggy, inedible mess...
Seriously, what the fuck? I've been testing out a lot of unusual dishes since I got here, like this delicious pumpkin-feta pizza from last night...
But the terrible "nachos" have been my first disappointment. Blargh.
No worries. I'm sure tomorrow's dinner will be awesome.
*Speaking of damages... I was shocked... shocked... at how many people were sick on the boat-ride out. No less than six people were puking their guts out non-stop. Thankfully, I don't get sea-sick, but the sight of so many people hurling was not an easy thing to take in. Fortunately, there are barf-bag stations all over the ship...
And while I really do feel sorry for those people whose day was ruined because of sea-sickness, I find it odd that people don't find out if they are prone to getting motion-sick before paying big money to head out on the open ocean like this.
No worries. I'm sure the rest of their vacation will be great.