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Breaking Down Barriers

15 Apr 2015



Imagine this. You are underwater. Just below you is something totally unlike anything you have ever seen before. There are fish of all different colors and sizes swimming gracefully around you. You might feel like an intruder, but ironically you are their guest. Incredible colors are greeting your eyes. Brilliant yellows, and soft pinks mixed with the soothing blues of the ocean you are submerged in. You have never seen the water this blue before in your life. Coral stretches out before you, with sea anemones and what seems like mountains of rock are close enough for you to touch. But you do not touch these objects for they are alive as well. They are a part of the ocean. This is their home. You are in the Great Barrier Reef.

I have to admit, I did not know what I was quite getting myself into when I signed up for the IES Spring Break Trip to Cairns, in Queensland, Australia. I knew that we would be visiting the Great Barrier Reef, but what I experienced was truly something I have never quite been through before.

Traveling to the reef took about an hour and a half. My friends and I on the trip were astounded by views of the islands we passed, and the vast ocean that seemed frightfully immeasurable to the human eye. Our instructors on the boat gave us an excellent briefing of each of the three reefs we visited and what we might encounter. After an extensive series of safety precautions and procedures, we were given our snorkeling gear and off we went. One by one, each student suited up in their gear and jumped excitedly into the ocean. I had never snorkeled before in my life, so I was very nervous that I could potentially drown, especially in the Great Barrier Reef. As soon as I jumped in however, my fears dissipated, and I became one with the ocean.

To call the Great Barrier Reef beautiful would simply be an understatement. It’s much more than that. It’s almost another world filled with incredible, and unique creatures. There were times I found myself alone admiring the world right below me, watching schools of fish and other organisms going on about their daily lives. Hearing the instructors talk about how fragile the reef is and how easy it is for pollution to destroy the homes of these creatures made me think critically of how we treat our oceans.

To give you idea of just how important the Great Barrier Reef is, I’ve included some research I’ve found both on the internet and from what I recall from the instructors on the boat:

1. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest reef system.

2. The Great Barrier Reef is greater in size than the United Kingdom, Holland and Switzerland combined.

3.  More than 1,500 fish species live on the reef.

4. Climate change is perhaps the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef.

5. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space.

I was lucky enough to see a variety of fish including Nemo (clown fish),  sea turtles, and some people even saw a shark! Luckily I was able to bring my GoPro Camera with me to document this valuable memory. Check out some of the photos I’ve taken!


(Suited Up!)


(The Great Barrier Reef )

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(IES Take on the Great Barrier Reef)

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(Sea Turtle!!!)


I am proud to say that I have snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef and can cross it off my Australian Bucket List. One day I hope to return, and even bring my children to this magnificent place. Hopefully by then, the Great Barrier Reef will still be in tact, and alive and incredible as ever.


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