In Cairns, on the northeast coast of Australia, we made our first dive-related purchase — masks and snorkels. Mine are in white, and make me think of A Clockwork Orange somehow. We also attended a "Reef Teach" lecture on the flora and fauna of the reef, taught by the bizarrely theatrical, yet incredibly informative Paddy.

The next day, we boarded a Pro-Dive live-aboard dive boat for a three day adventure on the Great Barrier Reef. The boat was very comfortable, and with a good set of people.

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The three hour ride to the reef was incredibly choppy, and most were feeling queasy on arrival.

While at the reef, Jason and I did our first unguided dives together, some more successful than others. We saw some interesting fish, yet the reef seemed rather dead in some areas. We also tried night diving for the first time, and really enjoyed the feeling of floating in outer space. Many large red cod were out at night.

On one particularly good dive, we saw several large sea turtles. One of our fellow divers, Donald Cantlon, took this and all the other underwater shots in this post:

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There were multiple types of Clown-fish (Nemo) on the reef.

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Lion-Fish (or Scorpion-Fish) were well camouflaged.

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At one point, Jason and I were trying to navigate around a big coral formation and find the "swim through" to get back to the boat. We didn’t find it, and figured we’d swim over the top of the formation. Unfortunately, the flattish top of the coral was quite broad, and was only about three feet away from the roiling surface of the sea. We were churned around up there, and struggled to get back to the boat. It was exhausting. After a struggle, we finally cleared the coral. Now we know why it’s called a swim through. Not to be repeated.

We purchased a slate on the boat for the next dive. A slate is a tablet you can write on underwater. We figured this would help us communicate better. Our first underwater "conversation" was something highly streamlined like,

"Where boat?"

"Maybe that way –>"

"But are you sure we passed this coral?"

"Compass says that way."

"You sure?"

"Think so."

etc.

We spotted a few nudibranches (tiny colorful slugs), a sign we were improving — diving slowly and observantly.

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There were a few rays in the reefs too.

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