Sunday, September 12

Another opportunity to see the amazing Great Barrier Reef

We had such an outstanding time on the Ocean Spirit Cruise to Michaelmas Cay, one of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef, we wanted to do the same trip again.  Check out the page from May 10, 2001 to see our report from the first cruise.

Hi again!  I'm writing as we watch Federer whup Hewitt's butt at the US Open on your Sunday evening.  We had another great trip to the Great Barrier Reef yesterday, and want to show you some new things we saw this time.  I shant bore you with the same pictures as when we went on May 10, 2001 - you can see those by clicking the link above.  But here are some new things I didn't capture last time.

It was a nice warm day for a cruise - the winds were going to pick up through the day but we spent the morning on the foredeck. 

A couple of hours later we got to Michelmas Cay and everyone watched the bird and fish feedings.  The crew are allowed to feed the animals 1 kilo of fish a day, no more.

It's just as beautiful this time as last, and just as clear.  One thing that affected us this time that didn't before was the effect of tides.  Last time we must have gone at high tide because we could snorkel the whole time.  This time, low tide occurred mid-day so there were some times we could only snorkel around the coral, rather than above it, or risk hitting it.  Bad for man and coral both.

I spent some time watching the birds.  The wind was about 20 knots so they were all having a great time landing on the boat, then just opening their wings and lifting off. 

And when they land, they occasionally mistake a good landing location for a bad one.  This one was riding the rail as if it was a bicycle.

Last time I didn't show the Semi-Submersible boat, a glass-sided boat from within you can see the reef.  We didn't take this trip this time, to spend more time snorkeling.

Just an overview of the scene from the Cay.

A piece of coral I found on the beach, to show detail.  It's about 2 inches long.

Because it is spring down here, the birds are nesting.  Here are some pictures of some of the sooty tern chicks.  During the day they would all move to warmer sand.  The chicks with their beaks in the sand are not dead - they moved over time.  But they were very sleepy.

Just before we left the birds freaked out and took off in a huge swarm.  Not sure why, but here it is about a minute later - most are in the air.

On the way back, the crew raised these flags.  We're not sure what all of them are. 

And then back to Cairns.  The city has grown since we were last here - the ships are all at a new expansive dock, there are new hotels and new ones being built.  Definitely a tourist desination city.

On the way back the wind was blowing hard, and was a little cold.  So we just hung out in back with not much to see.  Also, this time we planned ahead with plenty of sunscreen, so we got minimal sunburn.  Last time I got so sunburned I was still in pain weeks later.  This time, just a little on the top of my feet.

We got back to the hotel and had dinner in the hotel.  Mom had a fritatta and I had a beef curry dish.

On Monday we plan to just go into the city and do some shopping, or just hang around the pool.  Tuesday we're likely to go to the Tropical Zoo, north of Cairns, and Wednesday we go to Sydney.  Bye!
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