Water above us, water below us (by Lyndon)

Trip Start Jul 07, 2010
Trip End Sep 02, 2010

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Monday, August 23, 2010

Continuing on from Symone's post, yesterday I washed the van in the rain. If that isn’t Tasmanian then I don’t know what is.

Today we said a sad farewell to our separate bedrooms, TV and private amenities. Though it did take a little longer than expected to pack everything back in the van. I think we must have taken everything out bar the sink.

The plan for today was to head off early and spend most of the day snorkelling and soaking up the sun at Coral Bay. The rain however had different ideas. Coral Bay is the southern part of Ningaloo Reef which is the largest off shore coral reef in the world. It is literally 5-10m from the beach at low tide. A snorkeler’s delight!

It was a little too chilly for snorkelling though and because the weather was cold and wet, the glass bottom canoes weren’t operating either. As we were walking back to our van dejected, a glass bottomed tour boat beached unloading a group of passengers and picking up some more. Symone was able to sweet talk the skipper and assure him that we would pay after the tour. We even had our own marine biologist on board to explain the reef and the variety of fish we saw swimming merrily below the boat. One type of coral only grows around 2cm a year and a bommie we saw was 9m in diameter making it over 1000 years old! We saw cat fish, neons, parrot fish, snapper, clams, sea cucumbers and a range of other brightly coloured fish. The biologist asked if coral was a plant or animal. Connor answered 'animal’ and followed up with the Lleyton Hewitt salute when commended for answering correctly.

Most of the coral in the bay was different shades of brown with a few greens , blues and purples. We initially though there was something wrong with the coral, but the reason the coral is dark is so more sunlight can be absorbed by the symbiotic algae within the coral to produce nutrients for the coral. Sunlight here only penetrates 30m into the water, and the coral is in about 5m of water on average. The coral on the Barrier Reef is shallower and the light can penetrate up to 60m. So less algae is needed by the coral so the coral is lighter and more vibrant in colour.

Our boat tour wasn’t the same as snorkelling, but it was still excellent and gave Keely the chance to see the coral and made us all want to come back another time and spend lots of time here exploring the reef.

For the remainder of the day we were driving in and out of rain until we reached our destination, Carnarvon. We are not impressed with the weather and hope it clears up.  It was too overcast to take good photos of the coastline.  We passed back over the Tropic of Capricorn today, which we were so excited about crossing way back when just north of Alice.  We held a minutes silence to commemorate our loss.

Tonight we have our own private ensuite next to our camp site. We are slowly adjusting ourselves back into camping life. Can’t do it too quickly!
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