Great Barrier Reef & Shark Experience

We signed up with Deep Sea Diving Den to sit on a fast boat to the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns knowing it would take an hour and a half. During the journey, the guide Dan asked the certified divers to gather on the second deck of the boat next to where the captain sits to discuss the dive site. He asked us if we wanted to go with a dive guide (instructor or divemaster) or with a buddy. happy guy and I nervously stated that we would be each other’s buddies. We had never dived just the two of us before without a guide. Staring outside the boat window, I still couldn’t believe the reef is 2000 km long. And I wondered if we would be disappointed here in Australia after having dived in Indonesia and Thailand.

So we jumped off the boat. We knew we wanted to stay in shallow water to increase our dive time. So we signed ok to each other and started swimming toward the coral reef. We saw a few clusters of large yellow and white fish, one “big ass black fish” (according to happy guy), and a triggerfish. We continued swimming. I should have known this site was going to be full of surprises when a huge silver fish with teeth started swimming head on towards me. I moved to the left to avoid it. I was nervous when I saw it just behind me, but it finally swam away. So we continued with our dive.

I turned the corner and spotted a turtle. I started waving my arms around to get happy guy’s attention, and then I turned around to look at him and made the dive symbol for turtle (overlapping hands with intertwined fingers and thumbs circling) and he swims over. We swam together behind the green turtle and adjacent to it for quite a while and the turtle didn’t seem bothered to have us as company. the dive site was named Turtle Bay after all so we confirmed it was appropriately named. After a few minutes, I pointed away from the turtle and we decided to move onward.

We swam a little further and I descend down towards the sand next to a coral. Next thing I know happy guy was pointing below me. I looked and a blue-spotted stingray is slithering its way across the sand and then it stopped about a meter away from us. I stared at its eyes motionless on top of its head, and all I could think about was the Crocodile Hunter. I signaled to happy guy that we should swim around the stingray instead of straight over it just in case.  I definitely didn’t want the stingray to feel threatened and decide to barb us. Not a nice way to end our trip!

As happy guy and  I regrouped and were checking how much air we had left on our gauges, a different thing caught my eye. We were only about 5 meters deep and our dive was nearly over since we had only 70 Barr left. The last thing I was expecting to see swam within a couple of meters next to us. It was a reef shark that was bigger than happy guy! Thankfully happy guy was right next to me and I grabbed his arm in fear. The only place I have ever seen a shark was in a tank at Marine World (Six Flags Vallejo) and all I could look at was his face that resembled much more aggressive sharks. I felt paralyzed next to this creature, mesmerized by the way it moved side to side with its long tail. I checked his tail and it was indeed a white tip. I catch another breath. The shark swims away and we return closer to the coral.

Our three minute safety stop at five meters had ended and it was time for us to ascend. The Great Barrier Reef definitely met and even surpassed our expectations!! Our only regret is not having had a deep water camera for photos, but maybe next time!

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