Location: Great Barrier Reef

A 5:30 AM wake-up time is never met with much enthusiasm, but what helped today was that our early rise meant starting the three-day dive trip to the Great Barrier Reef! Upon our arrival at the ProDive live-aboard vessel at the marina, we had breakfast and some much-needed coffee before getting underway for the next few hours to our first dive site. A nice long nap was an integral part of almost everyone’s morning, after which we geared up to go on our first dive! Because it’s winter here (still warm enough to sunbathe between dives, don’t worry), the water temperature is a little cooler, but that didn’t deter us since we donned wetsuits. The first dive site we visited was Petaj on Milln Reef, complete with a huge coral bommie and a huge variety of creatures living in and around the corals. Most notable were a couple of blacktip reef sharks and a green turtle, as well as some giant clams. A quick lunch break allowed everyone to get dry and warm, and before we knew it, we were receiving our brief for the next dive. Amanda and I were the only two to do the second dive, but many could be seen snorkeling above. We saw some white-tip reef sharks, ascidians, and nudibranchs (which are arguably my favorite)—late afternoon brought about naps for some and a snorkeling session for others until we reconvened for dinner. Squeeze today brought about things we admire or like about the others in our group, something I always like to ask after we’ve spent some quality time together over the last couple of weeks. A few of us then prepped to get in for the last dive of the day, a night dive! This one was at The Whale at Milln Reef.

Looking over the side before even getting in, we could see large fish and a few sharks hanging around the boat (don’t worry, they’re more scared of us than we are of them). We grabbed all of our gear, added a glow stick and flashlight to our kit, and took a giant stride off the stern. Night dives are a bit different than those we go on during the day, firstly because it’s dark out, and, secondly, we see different organisms and behaviors than their daytime counterparts. It’s common to observe larger fish and sharks swimming around hunting and some sleepy individuals taking shelter in and under corals. After about a half hour (night dives tend to be shorter overall), we made our way up the mooring line to the surface. We were met with a late-night sweet treat, warm drinks (I chose hot chocolate), and the most beautiful stars! Among the more recognizable constellations were Scorpio and the Southern Cross, though I’d argue that seeing the crescent moon smiling down at us was just as beautiful. Thoroughly tired out from a long first day out on the water, hot showers and an early bedtime will be most welcome. Tomorrow, we are fortunate enough to continue diving and snorkeling. Fingers crossed, we have lots of sunshine and calm waters!