cher chow 周馥溢

The GBR Bommie Squad

October 04, 2016

Hello from Australia! My apologies for being quiet this past month. I haven’t been able to get off-campus to find solid wifi capable of uploading all my photos until now. I’ve been on Spring/Midterm Break for the past five days in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. A group of five students from the program and I spent three days on board of a boat in the middle of the Pacific. I’m not sure if it’s my post-boat inner ear issues, but it feels like a dream. The entire experience has me at a complete loss for words – just the privilege to be able to visit a childhood bucket list item, doing nothing all day but lie on the bow of the boat, eat, dive, and snorkel. We snorkelled/dove four times a day with our first session at 6am. It was absolutely beautiful coming up from duck dives to a red sunrise, swimming with all the fish waking up. Not to mention that snorkelling fresh out of my Ichthyology class and with the experience from fish surveys in Seychelles with much better fish identification skills is so rewarding. I have so much envy towards marine biologists now.

The trip with Cairns Dive Center also included introductory diving, which let me dive without certification. Can’t really say I’ve got neutral buoyancy down (so so sorry, corals) but swimming through a trench between two bommies (reef columns) and leaning up close to families of clownfish has been unforgettable. Here are a few of my favourite photos from the trip. I really hope they do the job of capturing the beauty and biodiversity of the Reef!

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Damselfish like the Scissortail Sergeants and chromises are always on the surface in schools.

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The bommie (or reef) walls are prime real estate for hard corals and soft corals like these. Photo by C. Clark.


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For each snorkel session, a dive center staffer sits on the very top of the boat to make sure snorkelers are safe and staying within range.

Diving tip #1, always signal Ok like this and not a thumbs up, which means “let’s ascend”. This is me on our second discover dive of the trip!

A gorgonian found in deeper dives. Photo by C. Clark.