Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reflections on the Reef

Because our underwater experience at the Great Barrier Reef was so amazing, we each wrote our own separate reflection (without looking at each other's) and then joined them here with pictures. Enjoy!

I’ve been snorkeling before, but this was totally different. I’ve never seen colors or fish like I saw in the Great Barrier Reef. Amazing. We went to four different locations, and each one was incredible. It felt like I was watching a movie; it was hard to believe what I was seeing was real. My favorite things were the giant clams, especially the ones with glowing fluorescent blue dots, watching/hearing the big parrotfish nibble on the coral, and seeing the yellow Moorish Idol fish. I was also excited that we “found” Nemo (saw an orange clownfish), and I found a stingray. No shark or below-water turtle sightings for me, but I had seen those before, so it was okay. I had fun using the underwater camera and took tons of pictures, many of which are posted here. If you want to see lots more, I'll post them on our Shutterfly site soon. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  -Aubree

Moorish Idol fish
Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef was an experience that surpassed my greatest expectations.  Words cannot begin to describe the colors, the differently shaped fish and coral, the way the bright sunlight shone through the water, the warmth of the water, the brilliant blues on the surface, and the different sea creatures.  I had seen pictures and watched The Planet Earth portion featuring the reef, but nothing compares to seeing and experiencing it in person.  My many hours spent snorkeling were topped off by thirty minutes of scuba diving, a whole new adventure and another way to get close to this underwater treasure.  I continue to be in awe of God’s created world!  -Sue

Great Barrier Reef - an underwater assessment.  We’ve all seen those still pictures of vibrantly colored fish, exotic coral formations, and huge prehistoric clams.  You may have seen The Blue Planet or documentaries capturing the magnificent beauty of the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.  Seeing it in person, a completely different sensory experience.   It does not come as a constant barrage or wave after wave of breath-taking beauty . . . after all, this is not a movie resulting from months of photography and weeks of editing.   The beauty comes in brief flashes of quick sightings, several seconds of watching a particularly beautiful school of fish, or minutes of continuous close encounters with magnificent coral formations.  To be surrounded by and interacting with something seen by a rather small percentage of people reinforces just how lucky you are to experience this natural wonder of the world.

Dad goes scuba diving.
To swim among so many absolutely beautiful and wildly colored fish was amazing.  The deep blue-purple sea stars were unreal.  I saw a lionfish, which I guess is a bit of a rarity.  I also had very close and unexpected sighting of a blue spotted ray.   I saw a total of five reef sharks, which pales to Zack’s story of seven. 

Sea Star
Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef . . . a must for your bucket list!  -Ray

It is I, Justin.  I was a little skeptical at first about being on a boat for over 24 hours with the only entertainment being snorkeling.  Can snorkeling really be that entertaining where it does not become boring?  The simple answer is “yes.”  It was very easy to get lost in the underwater world and lose all track of time.  I even had to be “rescued” in the small raft boat because we were moving to a new location and everyone else was on board.  I did not see everyone else swim back to the boat, and they were all waiting on me.

Justin gets "rescued."
The coolest part about the reef was that even though it is so vast, it is possible to learn its geography and navigate back to interesting locations.  The captain described where to find the home of a clownfish, so I paid attention and went after it.   I found it fairly easily even though it was a ten-minute swim out to it.  I floated above "Nemo" for about five minutes just watching him swim in and out of his home.  Back at the boat, Aubree said she wanted to see it, so I was able to guide her to it using various coral landmarks of which I had made note. 

My only complaint about the Great Barrier Reef is that the water is salty.  The word “taffy” has to be after ‘salt water’ for it to be tasty.  -Justin

The Great Barrier Reef is a wonder of the world.  It is full of life everywhere you look.  Everything is alive, and it is a constant changing world under the water's surface.  I really wanted to find ‘Nemo’, the adventurous clown fish from Finding Nemo.  I was really disappointed after our first site, "Blue Lagoon," because I was unable to find Nemo.  I was able to see and observe many other fantastic things (don’t think it was too much of a disappointment).  The coral was so vibrant and unique.  The water was so clear; sometimes I even forgot that there was water between me and the reef.  There were plenty of fish, and everywhere you looked there seemed to be one you had never seen before.  The reef was really close to the surface, and sometimes I would just float with the current because I was afraid to use my flippers and possibly hit the coral.  Still, I left still seeking to find Nemo.  Our second site, "360," was pretty remarkable, but after an afternoon and evening of snorkeling, I was still searching for Nemo.  An early morning snorkel proved to be the secret to finding Nemo.  I was able to see the perfect clown fish in the morning, and I felt as though my goal was accomplished, but I knew the reef had so much more the offer.  Our final sites for the day was absolutely astonishing and blew all the other sites "out of the water."  There was so much reef to explore that I frequently found myself snorkeling alone in the vast ocean.  This area had a fantastic sandy bottom and slightly deeper water that allowed for some larger fish and stingrays to hang out.  At one point I looked out of the water to check where the boat was; when I put my head back down, I saw a reef shark swim by.  I followed the shark for a short time until I lost him in the deep waters.  Not too long later, I was able to witness five reef sharks swimming around together!  This was the highlight of snorkeling, and it even gave me chills in the warm water being able to witness it all.

It is really hard to describe how amazing it was to be able to witness life under the water.  You might think it would be boring, but time flew and it was easy to get lost in the world under the surface.  From the surface, the colors of the water ranged from blues to greens, but underneath was a colorful, lively world beyond amazement.  Sometimes when swimming from the boat in deep waters to the reef,  I would wonder what was lurking in the water below.  These thoughts motivated me to swim a little faster!  Of all the amazing things I saw, I know there are so many more amazing and unique things in the reef that I did not see. 
Can you find Nemo?
I was able to find Nemo, but in doing so I found so many other wonderful things that I will not soon forget.  The Great Barrier Reef is truly a wonder.  -Cindy

I think the best way to describe the Great Barrier Reef is to think about a kid’s coloring book.  For most kids (if you’re not me and had to make sure each color was accurate to real life) the entire set of crayons is fair game to fill in the pages.  A dog can be purple, the grass orange, and the sky a kaleidoscope of colors – when you’re young and coloring with a 64 color deluxe set of crayons, reality does not limit you to the colors you use to create the world on a coloring book page.  Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef was like swimming in the pages of a coloring book gone wild.  The colors were bright, vibrant and unafraid to be outrageous, from coral to fish to clams to sea stars, to the blues of the water.  They didn’t have to be that bold and bright, but they were, and every moment in the reef was incredible.  Best coloring book ever!  -Morgan


  1. I am speechless with your descriptions. All of you did an excellent job conveying your impressions of the Great Barrier Reef. Can any other place be as beautiful in its offering of colors. The next best thing would being there ourselves.

  2. It seems as though everyone was on the look-out for Nemo. But did anyone find Dori, his friend. I am soooo happy for all of you to experience what you have seen in the Great Barrier Reef. I am glad you are filling your days with exciting and unusual things that you never get to experience in your real lives. Enjoy the last few days you have left. Don't sleep and enjoy every minute. You can sleep on the plane on the way home.

  3. I don't think we saw Dory, but there were definitely other blue fish! Thanks for reading...lots more to come in the next few weeks as I catch up on blogging now that most of the family is back home!