Finding Nemo (or one of his relatives, anyway)

I’ve always thought snorkelling or scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef would be an amazing experience. It turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

On Tuesday, May 15, I went on a trip to Moore Reef, part of the outer Great Barrier Reef (which is supposedly in better condition than the middle reef), with a company called Reef Magic. Because I’m a YHA member, I got a free introductory scuba dive, worth $120, but if I’d only gone snorkelling I’d still have seen everything. Moore Reef was about 50km away from Cairns and it took about an hour and a half for the catamaran to reach the pontoon. It wasn’t a smooth ride and several people were sick. I don’t usually get seasick so when I felt ill I put it down to nerves – anyone who’s heard about the scuba dive I did five years ago would understand – but I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity.

I was in the first group to go scuba diving, with three other people plus Brendan, our instructor. The water was 26 or 27 degrees but we wore wetsuits because the marine stinger season isn’t officially over until the end of the month. We swam in a line with our arms linked together, which ensured that nobody got left behind or had a problem that went unnoticed. The only time we separated was to have our photo taken with a huge Maori Wrasse called Wally. The dive lasted just under half an hour, and it was incredible. The water was perfectly clear, and we saw fish and coral of all shapes, sizes and colours. I was happy when we saw some clownfish and I could claim that I ‘found Nemo’. The fish were all around us, and some didn’t make any effort to swim away from us. After the dive, we went snorkelling, and I saw a turtle, which made my day. I used up the film in my disposable underwater camera, but I was disappointed with the results because they didn’t do the reef justice at all.

When I was a bit tired of swimming, I went on a 25-minute ride on the semi-submersible boat and saw the same sort of things. We had five hours on the reef altogether, and we were provided with a hot and cold buffet lunch.

I would’ve liked to see a ray and a reef shark but I certainly can’t complain. It was a day to remember, and another thing crossed off my ‘bucket list’.

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