Had my first visit to a coral reef today. And the experience was close to a religious one.
Indeed, took a brief snorkelling lesson and was then let loose in the waters of Moore Reef.
Had the strongest sense of wonder-experience in ages. The water was clear, the reef rich in life and the fish did not shy away from visitors. All in all a great introduction to the wonders below the surface.
The tour was provided by Reef Magic Cruises, and the organization was just impeccable. The distance from the Cairns Marina to the pontoon-base on the reef was quickly covered in a catamaran. During the cruise the crew familiarized the guests on both marine life and how to have a closer look on it.
In addition to self-propelled cruising on the surface, the platform offers an underwater observatory as well as a glass-bottomed boat that regularly travels the waters. Visibility from both was good, though as the photos show, the tint is definitely on the blue side.
An introductory scuba-dive was also available, but participating in one would have prevented from snorkelling and been just some ten minutes long, thus I decided to leave that exercise for another day.
The waters were calm as forecast, and snorkelling turned out to be an easy activity indeed. The diversity of life on the reef was rich, in both the fish and invertebrate kinds. Spotted fish ranging from tiny to huge (the parrotfish is some four feet long), and my fishkeeping background came in handy in identifying them beyond the obvious (the stars from Finding Nemo were all present). Two black-tip sharks put in a brief appearance during the semi-submersible cruise, but didn’t approach the platform.
Stinger (two species of jellyfish that are very dangerous to divers) season is already begun, and thus a full-body suit is a must. Wore a half-length wetsuit in addition. Dressing up was less of a chore than expected – the design of the latter has certainly evolved to an ergonomic one. The snorkel itself took some tries getting used to, but quickly transformed from something to be actively thought about to something that just works. “Just works” meaning very basic skills, and nothing more. Didn’t really dare to go deep with the snorkel, there was easily enough to see just cruising slowly on the surface.
The attached images are done with the traditional equipment (from both the observatory and the glass-bottomed boat as noted above). For underwater exposures I purchased a fire-and-forget waterproof camera, which contains analogue film. Stay tuned for images from there.