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.
Blue-Green Chromis Fish swim amongst the coral.
BLUE STAG HORN CORAL
A PARROTFISH MUNCHES ON SOME CORAL
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.
MORE GIANT CLAMS
VERY LARGE ANEMONE
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.
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
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
TOM SURROUNDED BY CORALS
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
BLACK CORAL ON THE LEFT
PARROTFISH WITH SOME EXQUISITE CORALS
TRUMPET FISH HANGS OUT ABOVE SOME STAG HORN CORAL
FELLOW DIVERS APPROACH
NOT SO HIDDEN GROUPER
TIME TO WHIP OUT THE COMPASS, AND RETURN TO THE BOAT FOR THE LAST TIME
As the gear is getting rinsed and stowed we head back to Sydney where the next group of divers await.
TOBY THE RINGLEADER
AURORA & SUSAN – VERY IMPRESSIVE SOLO TRAVELERS
These are two forces to be reckoned with. Aurora is a cultured and daring world traveler who runs her own company in the fashion industry. Susan is on her way to India to lend comfort and support to women who have fallen victim to sex trafficking.
AUTHENTIC AUSTRALIAN UGG BOOTS
UGG – Most of the UGG Boots that you find outside of Australia are made in China. The soles and construction in the Asian versions are rubbish. The ones you see here are the real thing and even have Swarovski crystals in the heels. If you plan on buying Uggs here in Australia, make sure they are a good Australian brand since many shops sell the Asian knockoffs. Also make sure the soles have two layers, cushion layer and a hard rubber layer on the bottom.
KANGAROO SCROTUM – In all of my years of travel this souvenir is clearly the most nauseating and cringeworthy abominations I have ever seen. Who would want these things? Maybe a woman who’s been through a bad divorce or just caught her husband cheating on her. A rabbit’s foot is pretty tasteless, but carrying around your keys attached to a kangaroo’s testicles is wrong in so many ways.
Crocodile Dundee had crocodile teeth on his hat as a testament to the ferocity of the beast. What does it say about a man or woman who opens their beer with a kangaroo’s nut-sack bottle opener? If someone has an explanation for this, please respond in the comment section. Inquiring minds want to know.
These art pieces helped to erase those sickening souvenirs from my minds eye.
Another Aesthetic Brain Rinse
JUVENILE PELICANS FEED IN THE BACKGROUND
RINSE CYCLE – Like our friend here, I return to my hostel to rinse off since I feel dirty after my encounter with that unmentionable souvenir.
NAPOLEON WRASSE THROW PILLOW – On my last day in Cairns I took a stroll along the esplanade, and came upon an open-air craft fair. A local vendor had conceived this magnificent likeness of a Napoleon Wrasse in the form of a throw pillow. I had the thought that this fellow would make an excellent hostel mascot who would require no care or feeding. Not to mention that he fits the decor to a tee.
This will also give me another friend to visit here in Cairns upon my return unless someone has gone and nicked him. By the way, it is definitely a male given his coloration. The fish above the sofa is a parrotfish.
As it turns out, my flight was cancelled at the last minute. So it seems I will be able to hang out with my undersea plushy for the evening.
This fantastic tribute to the wondrous Napoleon wrasse was created adjacent to a parking lot here in Cairns, and on this note I say farewell to this charming seaside community.