Jul 23

Whale Songs & Manta Rays

by in Australia

 

Manta Rays on the outer reef

Manta Rays on the outer reef

 

So beautiful...

So beautiful...

 

Blogging, even from the Outer Reef!

Blogging, even from the Outer Reef!

Holding our breath as we snorkeled, we could hear the distinctly magical sounds of whale songs wafting across the currents.  Absolutely magical….but not necessarily a surprise.  We’d been escorted by whales as we sailed to the outer reef yesterday morning, some 40 miles off shore and a beautiful three hour sail from our overnight mooring nestled amidst these special islands.  Pods of whales swam with us, tails slapping the water, adults and babies leaping out of the water.  While we were often the only boat in sight, we were definitely not alone.

I’ve dreamed of exploring the Great Barrier Reef since I was no older than Sacagawea and my older brother brought me shells from this spectacular paradise, so far away.  This week’s adventure has been the realization of that dream, and today’s excursion to the outer reef, the exclamation point.  With images of Finding Nemo dancing in our minds, we set out, swimming over the edge and into the deep blue sea. gliding over coral gardens as Nemos — oops, I mean, clownfish — darted in and out. We gazed into caves to see what treasures they held, and lay still in amazement as reef sharks darted just in front of us.

As stewards of this magnificent place, Lynne and John are careful to make sure we’re in the right place at the right time.  Lynne made sure we finished lunch quickly and admonished us that the dishes could wait:  we’ve got a date to make.  It seems that manta rays congregate on certain corals, just at certain times based on the tides.  She’d checked the charts, and we weren’t going to miss out.  As if on cue, there they were, lazing around the coral as we approached in the tender.  An amazing sight, these magnificent, gentle creatures . . . as we swam with them, they’d glide up and around us, as if to say hello, then dart off to the next coral, waiting to see if we’d follow.   Eyes wide, we eagerly played along, gliding gently above them as they rested, them swimming madly across to the next stop as they darted away.  Quite a game of hide and seek, and we loved every minute of it!

We’ve enjoyed 24 hours on the outer reef, snorkeling time and again, and watching in amazement as the tides continually change the seascape — reefs popping up above the water’s edge, then disappearing again a few hours later.  Still waters on top, betraying the strength of the strong currents below.  And at night, after the sun disappeared beneath the horizon, the stars exploded across the sky, dancing across the Milky Way in a celestial ballet unlike any we’ve ever seen.  The waters gently rocked us to sleep, and awoke us again as the sun slipped back into the morning sky.  Often alone — not another boat in sight — in this magical place, we couldn’t help be awed by the splendor, and humbled by our great fortune to have found this boat, these guides, and this experience.  Lucky, indeed.

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