Friday, October 30, 2009

Heron Island





I’ve spent the last two weeks snorkeling, diving, working in the lab, and playing beach volleyball on Heron Island, about 80 miles off the East Coast of Australia in the Great Barrier Reef. After 22 hours on the train we arrived in Gladstone and promptly boarded the ferry for the two-hour ride to Heron Island. The entry into the island’s harbor is impressive- the resort sank a ship in the edge of the channel as a break and the hull stands out against the island. We stayed at the University of Queensland’s Research Station, and we were provided with wetsuits, fins, masks, and snorkels to snorkel to our hearts’ desire during our free time. We had a week of labs which involved activities such as taking pictures of fish with underwater cameras to laying out transects and measuring coral cover at low tide. We also organized a six-team beach volleyball tournament, and not to brag, but we won- there’s something special about running up and blocking your professor’s spike back over the net (he was a pretty serious player). We also organized some beach soccer on the last from which I’m still healing. Playing on the beach really evens the playing field- you never quite know where the ball is going to go. We were also fortunate enough to be on Heron Island during the time of the year when Green Turtles crawl onto the beach in the evening dig nests, lay their nests, and then crawl back into the ocean. The amount of wildlife I saw was staggering- sting rays, sharks, turtles, and more species than I can even name. There wasn’t a dive or a snorkel where I didn’t see something new or exciting. There are tons of pictures I want to post so I’ll disperse them over the next few entries

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