Ocean Safari Reef Experience

Hello Spartan family,
Today’s adventure started at Cape Tribulation beach as we boarded a boat out to the Great Barrier Reef for an ocean safari. I brought my book and my head phones as I was expecting a peaceful ride out to the reef like we had in Cairns. Boy was I wrong! The inflatable vessel was more of a roller coaster than a boat ride. The weather today was overcast on the beach and it looked like it was about to rain, so the waves were giant. When the boat pulled up we were instructed to get on as quickly as possible because the guides had to hold the boat in place while we all boarded. This was a lot different than our reef trip in Cairns that started with breakfast on the bottom floor of a large ship. Instead of lounging in the sun on the top deck of the ship, we were holding on for our lives on the raft! A few of us decided to be adventurous and ride on the inflatable pontoons. As we hit waves, water splashed up into the boat and we bounced around everywhere!  We made sure to hold on tight so we didn’t go flying off. When we arrived at the reef we were given the basic safety instructions, but our guides just briefly discussed the danger of touching the coral. They made sure everyone knew that the coral could not be touched, but I was expecting this part of the conversation to be a lot more strict and serious than it actually was.
Our first stop was at Mackay Reef, a spot that was about 3 meters deep and full of coral and marine life. When we first pulled up to the reef we saw two sea turtles. The two guides got us all set up with flippers, snorkels and masks, and then we jumped into the water (our last adventure in wet suits and to say we were excited about that was an understatement!) The very first thing we saw on the ocean floor was another sea turtle. It was about 4 feet long and looked just as I would have imagined it too (aka how Finding Nemo depicted Crush).  As we kept exploring the reef we saw many giant clams (which were truly giant), a few royal blue starfish, countless different species of fish swimming both in schools and alone, and a few people even saw squid and stingrays. After about an hour we boarded the boat again and traveled to a different section of the reef, the Undine Reef. This section of the reef was a lot deeper, but we were told it would have less turtles and more sharks. Unfortunately, no one saw any sharks but the marine life was still abundant. I thought that because we had the opportunity to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef once before it wouldn’t be as impressive the second time, but I was wrong. The reef was just as beautiful the second time. Everyone has been making fun of me lately because my most popular quotes of the trip are “I can’t believe how blue the water is” and “it looks so fake,” but it truly does look fake. When we were riding the boat back to the shore, the water off of the side of the boat looked like a green screen. As we got closer to the shore, huge mountains seemed to just appear out of no where. It was absolutely beautiful, not unlike many of the things we have seen in Australia!
Our days of adventure in this amazing country are winding down and we are getting anxious to be home with our families, but we are sure having heaps of fun and making many memories in Australia!
Until next time,
Maddy Valentine

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