I have gotten a lot of feedback on the posts with photos from the Great Barrier Reef, so here are a couple more posts with some more photos. I use an Olympus Stylus Tough 8010. It has a slow reaction for taking a photo once you press the button, but I set it on a multiple shot setting as long as the button is depressed. The good news is you can catch a fish in a great shot, but the bad news I would get out of the water with hundreds of photos to sift through each time. It has been a great camera for underwater photos, but I’d look for one with a faster response time and also I think being about 4 years old, you can get better picture quality these days.
Two of the dives were night dives and this was a totally different experience! Armed with a flashlight I paddled about as the previously sedate Trevally and Red Bass (who drifted along during the day) began a feeding frenzy! The photos didn’t turn out so well with the flashlight as the only light source. But if you can imagine these 4-5 foot long fish zipping all around, searching for any poor little fish caught out in the open, you might get a little sense of what it was like!
I also saw 6-7 reef sharks, which at first was kind of scary/invigorating, but they really kept a much greater distance than the Trevally and Red Bass. The crew told us to expect seeing the reef sharks as a common place event, particularly on the night dives.
Some of the dive sites were at places called “bommies,” which were pinnacles of rock in the middle of deeper water. Some of these weren’t so great for snorkeling as far as seeing the surface of the bommie. However, there were masses of schooling fish that I delighted in swimming with, surrounded by zipping colours.
I swam for hours in these swarms of fish as they swarmed and then would suddenly dash for deeper water (a few times I saw circling barracudas, but many times I could not tell why the sudden dash for the deep). It was a very strange feeling to be completely surrounded by these teeming fish and then suddenly to be all alone in deep water – where I couldn’t see the bottom and I couldn’t see another living creature. Soon enough, though, the swarms of fish would come back up and begin zipping about again. Each site was a little different as far as which fish would be schooling closer to the surface and how intermingled the schools were. The yellow-finned fish always seemed to be closest to the surface. The striped blue fish always schooled with them, but a little deeper. The Unicorn Fish were generally deeper yet, but at one site they were coming to the top and I ended up swimming alongside them.
I could have just stayed there, gently swimming in these swarms of fish forever. It was just like a dream! It is hard to describe how peaceful the feeling was and the photos just can’t capture the three dimensional experience of it!
I had a great time out on the Reef. I did a 3 night live aboard trip with a flight out to Lizard Island to start with, and then a cruise back along the Reef toward Cairns. The flight was a nice way to get an overview of the Reef. Also, all the dive sites were more than 100 kilometers from Cairns, which is a good thing because a lot of the Reef is getting damaged from high density tourist use. A number of things I read were quite pessimistic about the future of this massive reef system that runs all the way up into Indonesia. The tour I went on was very aware of the need to make efforts to preserve the Reef.
I did my PADI certification for scuba back in Auckland a few weeks ago. I had difficulty equalizing the pressure in my ears and had some fluid in my ears after that (four flights in a week with pressure changes highlighted that I still had some problems with equalization), so I ended up snorkeling the whole time. Of the 12 dives, there was only one that I was somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t able to go under water.
Every time I went out, I saw more and more amazing things, the kind of things you generally only see in books or documentaries…
I’ll post some more photos in another blog…