Friday, January 3, 2014

Life on the Great Barrier Reef

Flying Foxes (bats) in Cairns
We traveled up to Cairns, located in the north eastern portion of Australia, entrance to the Great Barrier Reef. We wandered along the coastline from our motel, up towards the downtown area. As the light faded, a thousand birds suddenly winged their way across the sky...birds until I suddenly realized they were bats! Australia has the flying fox, a large, fruit bat. I tried to get a close up of some of them but, alas, they were too far away and too fast. 

This has to have been the most spectacular Christmas ever. We started the day with an early morning pickup and headed for the boat to take us out to the

reef where we would stay for the nest two days. The reef extends for a thousand miles...and we only saw a fraction of it.
 Our first spectacular view took us into an enchanted world of gorgeously colored fish and corals. The variety was unbelievable. Some of the fish were huge and stayed in large schools. What a massive living wall they created. The parrot fish were much larger than the ones in the Maldives, once again chewing on the coral. There were hundreds of other exquisitely colored fish wending their way up, around and through the coral. We even had a chance to see the tiny little dori fish....much smaller than our friend from Nemo. Turtles and sharks were spotted also, as well as huge scallops!

Giant Scallop
The coral was interesting in the huge variety of color and structure. Some resembled delicate flowers, others huge fungi. One of them was covered in tiny cilia, rippling as the ocean current swept by. Saw some of the gigantic clams with their velvet lined mouth, clamp down quickly on any unsuspecting critter that got too close.
Heading out to dive or snorkel

The dance repeated itself everywhere we went. Over the two days, we had the chance to explore three different sections of the reef, a tiny taste of what the entire reef must hold.
Sunset on the water

Cairns would have been a place to have stayed longer because it turns out there are so many things to see there but alas, our journey continues down in the Sunshine Coast.

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