Living in a bustling big city can be desensitising. There’s not much that can truly take your breath away on a daily basis when you’re supressed by tall buildings, concrete rooftops and pixelated screens that blare marketing propaganda. For me, the only thing that really takes me to another realm is being in and amongst nature.
I’ve always wanted to go and see the reef with my own eyes, especially after falling in love with the vibrant colours and brimming marine wildlife depicted in Finding Nemo. I’ve also been well aware that the reef is constantly in danger of being completely bleached out thanks to human greed and corporate interests.
The fact that I have to say
“I want to visit The Great Barrier Reef before it dies”
shouldn’t even be a thing.
But it is, and it’s unbelievably sad.
When we finally got to the pontoon (after about two hours of boat-rocking that left me feeling a little nauseous), I was completely winded by the beauty of the reef. I thought it was so beautiful how the ocean and the reef met and formed these majestic turquoise swirls. It was like seeing the Northern Lights, but in the ocean.
I should note that I am deathly afraid of submerging myself into bodies of water – especially bodies of water that are endlessly endless. For this reason, I had never expected – nor had the desire to go scuba diving or snorkelling. But, I figured if I was ever going to do it in my lifetime, it might as well have been right there and then when I had one of Earth’s most amazing natural wonders right at my beckoning. I mean, what a waste it would be to be at the reef but not actually in the reef.
So I pulled up my big girl panties (jokes, just my swimmers and a wetsuit) and took the plunge.
I must say, snorkelling is pretty painful if you don’t know how to do it right. I definitely don’t think I did it right because I kept getting salt water up in my nose, my eyes and in my throat. IT BURNS. Like, really burns. Despite the fact that I had snot all up in my grill and I thought I was going to go blind by the burning salt water, seeing the colourful fishes swim beneath me was an amazing experience.
Then, it was time for our scuba diving session. The instructors told us that the only thing we need to know in order to dive is how to breathe. Easy enough, right? Well, apparently I suck at breathing.
I had a mini internal panic attack during our ‘training’ session. We were on a small little platform submerged in the water and we practiced how to breathe with the oxygen tank on (those tanks are HEAVY!!!). I panicked because I found it so hard to breathe! Breathing in was fine – but having to breathe out was a little harder because of the pressure. It made me really conscious about how long I was breathing in and out for, because apparently if you take quick breaths you can pass out.
Eventually I got used to it and in we went into the depths of the ocean.
Being underwater was like being in a whole other realm. I loved it – seeing the minuscule air bubbles and specks floating around me. I was amazed by the architecture of the corals and sea anemones – a home for thousands of marine wildlife. It was like being in an untouched world, an alien-world.
^ Getting totally photobombed by an inquisitive fish. 🐠🐠🐠
I loved seeing all the colourful fishes. I thought about their personalities and how they fit into the marine society. I wanted to see the ocean through their beady little eyes. I wondered what they thought about humans and if they were aware that we are slowly destroying their homes. I thought about plastic bottles and fishing nets and whether these fishes that were swimming circles around me had ever had the traumatic experience of witnessing a fellow fishy being impacted by ignorant human activities.
It made me sad, but it also made me hopeful. Seeing the Great Barrier Reef in the flesh made me realise that it’s not over yet. There’s still an array of marine wildlife that need a voice.
Yes, humans are a disease – as a collective, we spread destruction in every corner of the world. Ocean pollution is caused by 80% of land-based activity… But as a collective, we can make a change. We can make a choice, even with every day consumer choices we make. We can say no to plastic bags. We can say no to buying products made from microbeads. No to plastic knives and forks. No to coal mines and greedy corporate hands.
I hope my future children will be able to say “I want to visit the Great Barrier Reef” without the looming prospect of it ever dying.
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Read more of our travels
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Once you catch the travel bug, there’s just no getting rid of it. It sticks with you like a persistent itch underneath the skin. Mattias and I headed to the Whitsunday Islands for a little paradise getaway in the first week of October. We went a day after my 24th birthday. Read more…