Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef - My Family Travels
A Potato Cod, Swimming Alongside Myself Simply Out Of Curiosity.

Experiencing the world that lives under the sea has always been a great topic of interest, constantly peaking my curiosity. So, after just completeing my scuba certification, one can only imagine my excitement when a family trip to the Great Barrier Reef was announced. I was traveling with my older sister, a Wellesley student with a major in Environmental Studies, my Dad, who used to be a commercial scuba diver for years, and my Grandmother, who was determined to make her final big trip a success.

Upon arriving in Cairns, Australia, the persistent humidity and heat was what struck me first. Coming from a state like Maine, the climate was a change; to say the absolute least. It was the end of December, but summer in Cairns, when we first began our scuba adventure.

First, we had to get there. A low-flying plane gave us a birds-eye view of the Great Barrier Reef’s continental shelf: where we would be diving. It was truly a breathtaking view, flying at times as low as 180 meters. Once we landed, we made our way to the Mike Ball Dive Expeditions dive boat. We were warmly welcomed by an outstanding crew of divers, who of course shared my passion for diving and seemed as excited as I was to jump in the water.

Finally it was time for the first dive. Wetsuits, masks and flippers were on, oxygen tanks were strapped onto our buoyancy vests: we were ready. Three, two, one. The cool water surrounded me, filling up my wetsuit. I took my first breath from the regulator, amazing again to actually be breathing underwater. As we slowly decended to the reef, my mind raced. I glanced at my sister who was by my side, our wide-eyed expressions at each other perfectly explained our eagerness and excitement without the use of any words.

The first creature I saw was an enormous grouper, also called the potato cod. It was about four feet long, and was swimming towards us. A harmless fish, I was told, who was just as intrigued as I. Wherever I swam, it curiously followed, so with the new member of our crew, we embarked on our expedition.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Everywhere I looked was a new color, a new creature, a new shape. Looking ahead, the massive corals and sponges were filled with the tiniest, most colorful fish imaginable. Looking back, a school of fish with hundreds of members, all yellow, swam in perfect unison.

I glanced upwards as a shadow was cast upon the sandy sea floor. A magnificent green sea turtle soared over the reef with incredible ease. It watched over the reef with calm eyes, and a mouth that seemed to curve into a smile. I wanted to capture the moment with my underwater camera, but instead, let the camera hang by my side. Such a beautiful moment cannot be captured with technology, but only treasured by memory.

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