AUSTRALIA: Cairns – Gateway To The Great Barrier Reef

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

One of the worst environmental disasters of 2016 was the devastating bleaching event in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It affected almost 93% of the reef system with a die off of almost one quarter of the coral. 2017’s back to back elevated temperatures created another bleaching event which raised the total amount of dead coral to a shocking 50%.

This is creating tourism to see it before its gone, while Australia’s energy policies continue to contribute to the problem. The United States has also failed to lead the charge to combat climate change, and thus becomes complicit in the destruction of reef systems which could lead to the collapse of fisheries and the displacement of millions due to rising sea levels. How tragic and embarrassing to live in a country that continues to deny the science for the sake of greed, and propping up dying obsolete industries!

I have seen the heartbreaking results since I started my travels this year. Hopefully, the Scuba Pro II can take us to some relatively undamaged dive sites, and perhaps the world will regain it’s sanity in the near future. Of course, I’m not holding my breath on that last bit.

GLOBETROTTERS INTERNATIONAL – Having heard that Australian hostels are rubbish, I was prepared for the worst. Was I ever surprised by the hospitable welcome, quality accommodation, and social environment.

RECEPTION – This is the wonderful, dimpled greeting I received from Jeanne upon arriving at the hostel after my flight from Seoul.

The beds are comfortable, the showers are hot, the bathrooms pristine, and the kitchen is well equipped. My private room with shared bathroom was only $50 per night. There is usually a good movie on the TV to chill out and watch on the ample sofa. I recommend this place wholeheartedly, and will certainly be staying here on my next visit to Cairns.

Don’t worry the ocean will be back shortly after dinner.

This is where the locals throw a few shrimp on the barbie.

 

THE RAW PRAWN

I decided to start my visit to Australia with a kangaroo and alligator combo. The kangaroo is on the left, and the alligator tasted like chicken.

MÖVENPICK – HAAGEN DAZS BE DAMNED, MÖVENKPICK SWISS CHOCOLATE BEATS THE HELL OUT OF IT!

THE OCEAN WILL RETURN

 

 

  SCUBAPRO II 3-DAY TRIP TO THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

THAT’S THE GREAT BARRIER REEF UNDER THOSE BLUE WATERS!

SCUBAPRO II – Our home in the Great Barrier Reef where most of our time was spent in the ocean. This was a very efficient and smooth operation, and proved to be a good value given that it provided eleven dives over three days for $600. PRO DIVERS in Cairns is a great place to book your Great Barrier Reef Activities.

The fellow with the shades provided us with detailed briefings that included navigation tips. By the end of the trip our navigation skills improved greatly due to his instructions.

Off we go submerging into the briny depths.

Here I am tugging at my buggery weight belt which has a tendency to slide past my nonexistent bum. I much prefer the integrated weight systems, but there’s no way I’m dragging my own gear around the planet.

A plethora of varied and healthy corals await.

 

 

 

 

 

GIANT CLAM

 

NUDIBRANCH

Blue-Green Chromis Fish swim amongst the coral.

BLUE STAG HORN CORAL

NUDIBRANCH

 

A PARROTFISH MUNCHES ON SOME CORAL

 

GIANT CLAM

 

A GLAMOROUS “MOORISH IDOL” GLIDES PAST IN THE LOWER LEFT

A STYLISH TEXTURAL SEA CUCUMBER

SNAKE FISH – Check out his false eye. It enables him to sleep while predators think he is awake.

GIANT CLAM

MORE GIANT CLAMS

COLOSSAL CLAM

VERY LARGE ANEMONE

ANEMONE FISH

ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME?

ONE OF MANY SEA TURTLES TOM AND I SAW DURING THE TRIP

 

 

HERE I GO AGAIN

 

A BLUE PARROTFISH CRUISES PAST

A PAIR OF BUTTERFLY FISH SHOW THEIR COLORS

 

GREAT SHOT, TOM!  HE REALLY HAD A KNACK FOR FINDING THESE THINGS.

 

 

 

GREEN TURTLE

FORCEPFISH

GIANT CLAM & SEA URCHIN

SMALL BOMMIE CLUSTER OF VARIED CORALS

BIRD WRASSE & BUTTERFLY FISH

 

 

 

TOM HOVERS AS WE PREPARE TO SUFACE

A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WAIT TO CLIMB ON BOARD

ONE OF THE CREW WAITS FOR THE DIVERS, AND KEEPS AN EYE ON THE SNORKELERS

A HANDY SPOT FOR A NAP BETWEEN DIVES

Now there really wasn’t that much time between dives so naps were pretty limited. After two days of diving I put some strain on my hamstrings. My hamstrings have always been a bit tight. I was lying on my bunk after dinner on the second night, and made the mistake of bending my legs. My legs clamped down into the most painful cramps. It was so severe that I was screaming in agony. Every time I tried to get out of the bed, I had to bend my legs to clear the ladder which sent me into another agonizing spasm. I then tried to back myself into the corner so that my feet could clear the ladder, and hopefully stand to stretch out my seizing tendons.
About this time, the captain knocked on my door having been summoned by my blood curdling sounds. I invited him and another crewman in, and they managed to wrestle me to my feet without bending my legs, sparing us all another round of my symphony of pain. I proceeded to gingerly stretch out my hamstrings, and gained some much welcomed relief. I thanked my rescue party, got the hell out of my torture chamber, and rejoined my compatriots in the ship’s lounge.

A NICE HEALTHY STAND OF STAG HORN CORAL

DROPPED ICE CREAM

BLUE AND YELLOW SPOTTED STINGRAY

BLUE-GREEN CHROMIS FISH

I PREPARE TO NEGOTIATE A TIGHT SWIM THROUGH

A PRETTY CLOWNFISH NESTLES WITHIN AN ANEMONE SURROUNDED BY A VARIETY OF CORAL

BUTTERFLY FISH

RED SEA STAR

 

FANTASTIC FEMALE BIRD WRASSE – ANOTHER BEAUTY TOM

ANEMONE WITH ANEMONE FISH

 

THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES

A TURTLE MUNCHES AWAY AS A BUTTERFLY SWIMS PAST

 

 

NAPOLEON WRASSE – AH SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE, AT LAST I’VE FOUND YOU!

This has long been one of my favorite fish in the sea. Here we have a female who is smaller and less colorful than the male of the species, but she definitely has her own charm and characteristics that make this fish one of the coolest things to be found underwater.

COME BACK GORGEOUS! WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID? DAMN, I SHOULDA BROUGHT SOME HARD BOILED EGGS.

 

 

CLOWN FISH FAMILY

BIG MOMMA

 

LITTLE PAPA

TOM SURROUNDED BY CORALS

MORE CLOWNFISH

 

 

 

 

BUTTERFLY FISH

 

 

 

MUCKING ABOUT AFTER A DIVE

 

There’s that wily ginger, Toby, about to take the plunge on a night dive. I skipped the night dives since I just didn’t want to squeeze into that cold, soggy, five mil wetsuit after dark.

The guy on the left is my dive buddy, Tom. I must say I was damn lucky to be paired up with him since we both use up air at exactly the same rate. This is really important since it can be embarrassing if you need to surface when your buddy still has ten minutes of air left, and you have cut his time short on the Barrier Reef no less. We also seemed to navigate fairly well, and finally Tom took to underwater photography like a duck to water. Not only did he get the shots, but he also found a lot of stuff that I completely missed. That is saying something since I have 400+ dives and he is at 20+. Clearly he has a wonderful future underwater.

If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have had the camera in the first place. After seeing the shots the camera produced and Tom’s quality camerawork, I decided to leave the photography in his capable hands. I decided to handle the post production. Lighting, Color Balance, and Composition were my contribution to the project as well as a handful of pictures. It was nice to participate in that way, and I was grateful to have been free to dive without a camera.

I DID NOT ENVY THEM

 

 

THREE BARRACUDA LOOKING FOR BREAKFAST AT 6:30 IN THE MORNING

 

 

SUNRISE FINALLY ILLUMINTES THIS CORAL HEAD

 

 

 

FINDING NEMO

 

 

 

 

CABBAGE CORAL

BLACK CORAL ON THE LEFT

 

PARROTFISH WITH SOME EXQUISITE CORALS

 

TRUMPET FISH HANGS OUT ABOVE SOME STAG HORN CORAL

DAMSELFISH

 

 

 

LEMON DAMSELFISH

 

PUFFERFISH

 

UNICORN FISH

 

 

FELLOW DIVERS APPROACH

 

 

SPOTTED SWEETLIPS

 

 

 

HIDDEN GROUPER

NOT SO HIDDEN GROUPER

PERMIT FISH

 

 

 

 

 

SWEETLIPS

GIANT CLAM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNAPPER

TIME TO WHIP OUT THE COMPASS, AND RE