October 20, 2010

Great Blue Abyss (and no … not inside a whale)

You can’t REALLY know the Pacific Ocean until you’re dropped into it and can’t see ANY land from where you are.  Ya know, not even be telescope.  Like, if you were a pirate you couldn’t stand at the watch tower and say “Land Ho!”  You also can’t REALLY know the Pacific Ocean until you’re surrounded by miniature fishes beneath it, Oh, and maybe a shark or two.  And finally, you can’t REALLY know the Pacific Ocean until you’re wearing a wet suit in the dead, dry heat of summer out there because it’s freezing…and the ice caps are melting (see 3 blogs down, the blog about saving the GBR).
Lucky for me, I tackled all of these in one day.  I road out on a really ridiculously rocky (rrrrrrrrrr) boat, in a choppy, cloudy haze and was thrown off the back of a boat to swim amongst the coral.  It was very different from my first reef experience because I could stand on the bottom anytime I wanted that time and this time there was no bottom.  So, I had to muster up all of my summer league years of sitting in the diving board section of the summer league pool and (I just googled this for about 10 minutes because I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called…thanks YEARS of year round swimming for giving me NO memory) and hold my hands up over my head and hold myself up by kicking.
who knows, bah I hate that.  Anyway, the Great Blue Pacific was pretty much what I was expecting…until low tide.  So, we’re out here swimming around (some of the people are even being pulled around because of their fears of not only swimming, but their fears of big spaces…poor boat guides) and it becomes low tide about ten minutes after we’re out there.  So, literally, again my back is out of the water and right below me is coral.  We came really close to hitting coral a lot which isn’t a fun feeling.  Some corals have poisonous protection, some are just really sharp and can easily cut you and others are soft and fun to touch (spaghetti hairs).
But out here, we literally had to work our way through the maze of the reef in order to get through all the different spots.  There was the “fish bowl,” and the “clam garden” that were especially my favorite.  The “Fish Bowl” had a lot of little Nemo fish, which I bet we’re just trying to touch “the butt” and we were terrifying them and their babies.  Then in the “clam garden” which was my favorite part of the whole dive experience because I was obsessed with the clams and their we’re literally hundreds.  They were everywhere.  I felt like I was playing instruments when I went about just tapping them and watching them close up.  They feel like…well, they feel like your favorite coat.  And yes, the horror movies are true, your hand will inevitably get stuck in one before the day is done and have to be yanked out.  You could FOR SURE lose an arm (hah).
This was definitely my favorite day that we spent in Carins.   We had an awesome Scott Taylor-esque tour guide (for all my Camp Hanes Alumni) and he let us pet a sea cucumber from the bottom of the ocean that he swam down and picked up.  He even told us that they breathe and use the bathroom out of the same hole, so in case you were wondering, animals like that do exist and they have really intense breath (har-har, no kisses for you!).  He also told us which things we could touch, which is very Scott Taylor of him, doing whatever he wants and ignoring the oceans rules.
We spotted a stingray, a sea turtle, two sharks (a tiger shark just skimming the bottom with his vampire teeth out and then a real shark…that for some reason SOME PEOPLE  wanted to swim towards instead of swimming away (boys, ugh).  And now everyone wants to be locked in one of those shark cages and dropped into a Great White sest(sp) pool to plummet to their death.  I think maybe I’ve just been watching way too many episodes of Ghost Adventures this week (at least on Sunday I’ll have a job and tons of tea to make my life have more meaning.  Who doesn’t want to have a job where her boss tells her that she better get to drinking all the tea so she can learn them within a month…amazing.  Can’t wait).
I guess I can’t really say that I learned anything “Godly” on this reef adventure.  But let’s see, what DID I learn.  Well, I learned that the world is a whole heck of a lot huger then just what you see in your day-to-day life.  And as much as I hate that Disney ride, it’s a small world because the puppets are creepy and they sing in shockingly high voices, it is a really small world (did I just totally contradict myself?)  We are really all separated by six degrees.  And then beyond that, there’s this whole other world under the sea that hasn’t even been fully explored because we haven’t come up with the equipment to do so yet.
Near the Outer Reef that we went too, was the continental shelf (uhhh talk about terrifying).  It’s just one of the big drop offs at the end of the circular earth.  Like one of the big holes going down much further into the earth then humans really want to be (probably because they will burst into flame), but it was so near.  And we just kept pointing further out and wondering.  It’s just such a questionable place to be out in the  middle of the ocean and realizing you’re never going to know everything.   I’m never going to be able to read all the books I want to read (aka the entire library) and you’ll never get to try all the foods of the world.  There’s just so much to explore, so pick your exploration destinations wisely.
The last thing I want to talk about is our first Reef of that day (Michaelmas Cay, the second one which was way out was Hastings Reef where Wally the big “Sweet Lips” fish lives.  If I sent you the Wally postcard, that’s awesome, you have a pretty stellar momento, I think my nephew might have gotten that one, who knows).  Anyway, Michaelmas Cay was actually a bird sanctuary, and it was the first bird sanctuary I’ve ever been to and will probably ever go to (the smell is shocking, until you fill your nostrils with that dry, humid salt smell that diving the reef gives you) and birds in groups, who just had babies love to make tons of noise.  This was all the first time I saw a group of seagulls who were outnumbered by the other birds on the Cay.
The Cay was so small you could see to the other side (well, if you’re tall, unlike me) and on it were literally thousands of birds (23,000 a day just about) and it was in the middle of nowhere.  It was just this patch of sand, that happened to grow some facial hair in the form of grass and then became a place for birds to come and make sweet, sweet birdie love and have tiny little babies.  It was actually beautiful to see all the mothers and the act of life on the island, BUT when baby birds sleep they look dead so that was kind of sad at first when I thought they were all dead and then one just poked his head up.  I’ll post pictures so everyone can share this birth experience with me (since I definitely won’t be posting pictures of any live births on this blog.  Good Lord).
I guess there’s not much else to say about this Reef Experience (maybe it was a had to be there moment, and I mean that in the least cocky way possible). This was definitely a life changing trip that I’ll probably never get to do again, even though someone wonderful  I know promises me I will with kids (yea, I went there).  It’s just really neat to see an underwater world so different from yours, really makes me think long and hard about my initial dreams to become a mermaid (and totally Darwin my way into having fins and gills after 20 years under there, I’ve really thought this out) and just kill the writing dream all together, but then WHO would write this blog, and WHO would bring you the next Harry Potter phenomenon….I guess you can’t let the world go without that.   : )



Those extra fuzzy, dead-looking ones were just born 4 weeks ago. Sleepy time!

When I said bird sanctuary, it wasn't a joke. Where birds go to church: Michealmas Cay



Silly fish swimming above a giant clam


Some GBR fishes. I was more scared of them than they were of me.


Touching Spaghettis, major sunburn


I loved the pink ones, I'm such a girl.


my brothers favorite picture





2 comments so far.

2 responses to “Great Blue Abyss (and no … not inside a whale)”

  1. bea mannes says:

    Of course, we loved this blog and the accompanied pictures, even though we have seen them already. They still are great pictures, and I am also beginning to see why Michael likes that particular picture best. It does have “something”.
    We especially like the idea of you returning to the Reef with children in the future. Now that’s a nice picture…in my head.

  2. bea mannes says:

    Of course, we loved this blog and the accompanied pictures, even though we have seen them already. They still are great pictures, and I am also beginning to see why Michael likes that particular picture best. It does have “something”.
    We especially like the idea of you returning to the Reef with children in the future. Now that’s a nice picture…in my head.

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Hi, I’m Cass

I am a writer, educator and genuine creative living on the coast of NC. Our house is built on sunshine with my husband BJ, dog named Tucker, and our two very sassy cats: Fromage and Jasper.

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