Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 15

Day 10

What did we do today?

We went to the GREAT BARRIER REEF!! We got up and had breakfast this morning and then went downstairs and boarded the buses. When we got to the coast, we walked down the long wharf and got on a boat. The boat took us a couple hours out to sea. We arrived at this platform and docked. We all got off the boat and grabbed our scuba gear and were off. I was scared at first because I’m not a strong swimmer, but I got used to it. I loved scuba diving! The Great Barrier Reef was amazing! I saw so many cool things! After diving we ate lunch and sat in the sun. We all had some cuts from the coral. After that we went down below and watched them feed the fish. See also got to see the touch tank. I got to hold a sea cucumber!! I love it! I also got to hold a tiny starfish! We got to release the sea cucumbers back into the reef… Today was an incredible day! Later we came back to shore on the boat and went back to the hotel room. Steven, Scott, Kasia, Katie, and I went to find some dinner in town. We walked far down our exploration area and found this restaurant. It looked pretty good, so I called my group over to the menu that was posted outside. The very first thing I see on it is the “Outback Sampler.” I knew we had to stop there because you cannot go to Australia and not try the kangaroo, crocodile, and emu. We did and it was amazing! The kangaroo tasted like really good venison, the emu tasted like a really lean steak, and the crocodile… well, it tasted like chicken. Not joking- it really did. Of course it wasn’t a super chicken-y flavor, but very similar. I also ordered the crocodile pasta. It was incredible. Today was our taste of Australia: GBR and kangaroos! And boy was it good!

Prompt: Talk about the Great Barrier Reef.


The Great Barrier Reef was breathtaking. I absolutely loved it! The reef was beautiful. There was so much biodiversity and variety, it was incredible. The coral was magnificent. The colors, shapes, and textures of each individual piece were unreal. They are all unique. Color seems to sprout everywhere. Life is all around us. Everything was something new to discover, something new to see. You could keep looking closer and closer at something and the patterns kept getting more and more intricate. The coral was really cool and really interesting, but I really liked the fish as well. They were so beautiful! They had so many different colors. Later on in the day we got some fish food from a very nice lifeguard and we got to feed them. They came right up to us and we got to pet them. One of my absolute favorite things at the Great Barrier Reef were the bivalves. The giant clams were amazing! They were so big! I know they can grow to be over 4 feet long but it still shocked me how big they were. The colors in their mesenteries were fabulous. Giant clams have plantlike algae called zooxanthellae that grow on them. They have the same symbiotic relationship the zooxanthellae have with the coral. The alga creates food for the clam and gives the clam its beautiful color (The absence of zooxanthellae is a cause of coral bleaching). This was incredible to see in real life! I gave everyone I hung out with at the reef a guided tour. I pointed out the incurrent and excurrent siphons on the giant clams and the lateral line on the fish. I loved holding the starfish because I showed my friends its ambulacral groove and gently touched its tube feet. I was surprised that the sea cucumber was so smooth considering it’s an echinoderm. I showed its tiny spikes to my friends and told them this creature is under the same phylum as the sea stars and sea urchins. The sea cucumbers were such a strange color. They were so dark! I absolutely loved the Great Barrier Reef! Knowing so much about zoology really made this experience wonderful for me. It’s the personal connections you make on a journey that make the trip memorable. This is a memory I will always hold dear.

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