COB Study Abroad: Australia Edition “The Great Barrier Reef”

The Great Barrier Reef

By Catherine Clark

A brief, brisk walk down to the docks and before I knew it, we were boarding a magnificent sailboat that would take us to the small sandy island of Michaelmas Quay. After about an hour of windy, rocky sailing, we arrived at our destination. The water was as clear as glass, filled with fish and sea creatures of all kinds. The day ahead was full of fun opportunities to explore the miraculous ecosystem right below our feet.

My first exploration began with a tour of the reef on a glass-bottom boat that glided over the coral communities to showcase its beauty without even having to touch the water. We heard about the different types of coral, different species of fish, and all the other life that exists under the surface.

Then we got back on the sailboat, changed into all our snorkelling gear and headed to the island on a small boat with other eager tourists and locals to experience first-hand the largest living organism on earth.

The water, although crystal clear, was cold at first touch. We braved through the initial shock and swam out to the closest patches of coral we could find. Literally, inches below my nose were countless little living organisms, with exoskeletons and hungry bellies, feeding on the bright beautiful sunshine all day and plankton all night, living in harmony with all the other creatures of the sea. How amazing is that? As I tried to focus on breathing through my snorkel and not inhaling a mouth or nose full of salt water, I couldn’t help but have my breath completely and totally taken away by the marvels of our wonderful world.

The beauty of the Australian coast is without a doubt one of the most beautiful parts of the ocean I have ever seen, and I cannot wait to come back someday to once again be completely overwhelmed by the spectacular species of the Great Barrier Reef.

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