Great Barrier Reef (Day 19)

With only 6 hours available to catch some sleep last night, I could not fall or stay asleep to save my life. I truly felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve, excited for Santa to bring presents!

Since I was a little kid I have had two things on my bucket list. One was accomplished the first day of our trip: go to Australia. Today I can check off the second: go to the Great Barrier Reef.

I was so excited to be able to blog about today but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to put this experience into words. 
We woke up early in the morning with eagerness towards a long awaited day. We walked to our check in and boarded the boat, making it one step closer to seeing the largest living natural wonder of the world! To begin the trip, as we left the dock, the crew was full of witty jokes during a presentation on safety and plans for sea sickness. Plan A was sea sickness pills for prevention, not as a cure. Without those, if you already felt sick, it’s time for plan B. A white, paper barf bag on your way out the door to the back of the boat. Our instructors told us to prepare early and buy the pills before we left, due to a rough experience they had last year. Even those who thought they could do fine without, immediately ran to buy plan A pills after the first large wave sent us flying out of our seats. The group spent a large portion of the boat ride out to the reef with safety lessons and training for both scuba diving and snorkeling. 

When we arrived at the first Reef, the groups of scuba diving began. Many individuals in our group got the opportunity to scuba dive. In groups of 4 people with one instructor, diving deep to the bottom of the Reef. Many saw giant fish and even a small shark. The ones who went described it as amazing and were glad they conquered this new experience. Others did not go, for different reasons, but enjoyed a full day of snorkeling. 

Most people have never snorkeled before, so this was also a new and amazing experience for us. Snorkeling through the Reef made me feel as if I were in and apart of this incredible living organism. 

Throughout the day, we were taken to two locations within the Great Barrier Reef. I personally loved the 2nd location the most. The water was much more shallow on this one so we weren’t really able to swim above it. Instead, we snorkeled and swam along the edges of the reef. Seeing the life that lives among the coral is amazing. There were millions of different colors and sizes of fish swimming around me. Elise and I even got the amazing opportunity to see a sea turtle swimming through the water. I actually felt like we were in a Finding Nemo movie. 

As incredible and beautiful as the Great Barrier Reef was, it saddens me to know that so much of it has been bleached and died. It makes me question the actions of myself and others towards our earth. We have learned how the Aboriginal people here in Australia cherish Earth. Knowing that humans are the main cause of this damage to Mother Nature is devastating.

As most of our trip has been a surprise until the night before or day of, the instructors kept one secret until the very end. Along with our cruise, snorkel, and dive, we got to take a helicopter ride to see everything from above the Great Barrier Reef. From the sky, we were able to see 5 reefs right in a row. It was mind-blowing to hear that there were over 300 similar reefs to these. If you combined all of the reefs together, it would equal the square area of Germany! 
Everything I have written about today doesn’t do true justice for how amazing our day was. It was the best way I could ever imagine to end our study abroad. With only a couple days left, the fact that the trip is almost over is scary. It’s going to be a bittersweet moment, as I’m ready to reunite with friends and family but I’m not ready to leave such an incredible place. 

Written by: Katie Rance


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