Tuesday, July 15, 2014

First Day in Cairns

Yesterday was rather uneventful.  The hostel I’m in is…unique, but I like it anyway.  It’s a girls only hostel, and a lot of the girls are living here more long term, although there are also plenty of people just passing through.  It’s an old “Queenslander” home that they’ve made into a hostel, so the set up is a bit strange.  You have to walk through the bathroom to get to the kitchen and the rooms are in odd locations, that sort of thing.  Well after a shower and some breakfast I headed out to find a grocery store to stock up on some food for the week.  I stopped into a few places to ask about job openings, but didn’t have any luck.  Several places said that all the applications have to be put in online, so I ended up coming back to the hostel and researching scuba diving and snorkeling trips as well as applying for more jobs.  Before I could decide it was time to head out for my information session at Reef Teach
 “ Learn what to look for, where to find it and how to discover as much as possible! Reef Teach is staffed by qualified marine biologists and conservationists, who aim to educate, inspire and enthuse visitors to the Great Barrier Reef about this unique and incredible place.”  
I was a bit late because my directionally challenged side got the best of me, but I think I really only missed the introduction.  The gentleman was very charismatic and made the information very fun to learn.  There were photos and videos and plenty of specimens and samples that got passed around so we knew exactly what he was talking about since we could hold it in our hands.

It’s humpback whale migrating season right now so he said we should be able to see whales and dolphins on our trip out to the reef, which is pretty awesome.  Here are some of the fun facts I learned last night.
There are 7 species of sea turtles worldwide and 6 of them are in the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is 2,500 km long – it’s larger than Germany (but has never won a World Cup).
The GBR is actually made up of 2,900 smaller reefs that act as a unit.
Coral by itself is actually colorless, the algae that lives inside it is what gives it color
There are about 1,500 fish species found on the GBR
133 species of sharks can be found on the reef

The presenter (sorry, since I missed the beginning of the talk I have no idea what his name was, but he’s South African) even gave us tons of tips on where to look for certain fish and how to make sure we didn’t get hurt by the many poisonous and dangerous things in the water.  As their tagline says: with learning comes appreciation; the reef is a very fragile place and must be treated as such.  I’d definitely recommend everyone go to the presentation before a visit to the reef, it’s nice to know what you’re going to see and why it’s so cool (hint: it’s not just because it’s pretty).  

So, I’m off tomorrow morning to visit the reef, do some snorkeling and give scuba diving a try.  On that note, I’d better go make sure my camera battery is charged!

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