The Great Barrier Reef
Our crew started our journey to the Great Barrier Reef lathering ourselves in sunscreen and chattering in excitement. Although we were dragging our feet due to the early start, the group appreciated that we didn’t have any classes and could enjoy the day ahead of us. After a short walk to the marina, we boarded the Whitsunday Cruise line where we were greeted with smiles and coffee.
During our time on the ship, we mingled with the onboard staff, had a few queasy stomachs and went cold turkey with our cell phones. Being in the middle of the ocean, we didn’t have much choice – but it was every parent’s dream! Three hours of great conversations went by and we had arrived at our beautiful destination, The Great Barrier Reef.
Some of the crew had the opportunity to go on guided snorkelling tours, some went out on their own and a few stayed on board basking in the sun (it was a good thing we covered ourselves in sunscreen). Our lunch was an array of chicken wings, salads and bread. When our bellies were full, part of the group went to a semi-submerged submarine that was on the side of the ship. In the submarine, we learned that turtles eat plastic that is tossed into the ocean because it looks like jellyfish…their favourite food! This made us really acknowledge how detrimental littering is for the environment.
The tour guide also gave us an in-depth explanation of coral bleaching, which occurs when corals become stressed due to a change in ocean temperatures. Most aquatic life is able to adjust to this change but coral cannot adapt as quickly. The coral gets irritated and the zooxanthellae algae living inside it dies off and leaves the coral without oxygen and vital nutrients. When this occurs the coral loses its colour turning it white. What made us really open our eyes is the significance of our contribution to the bleaching. We all have an impact on the reef, which is why we need to be wary of our ecological and coral footprints.
The day came to a conclusion at around 6:00 pm, with a group of exhausted teenagers and an abundance of memories that will last us a lifetime. Overall, we really enjoyed our experience in the Great Barrier Reef and are aware of the impacts that we have on this beautiful wonder of the world. We are ready for our next adventure!
Meg, Ruby and Abby T.
(Grade 12 Biology students)