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Quote of the Day - I won't be getting inside today unless I get some scuba gear. - Jack Rabito
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MIPTC's South Seas Journal: Underwater In Australia's Great Barrier Reef – Day Two

Australians are full of wonderfully descriptive words to more colorfully communicate The Things We Already Understand.  While on the last leg of my flight from Auckland New Zealand to Cairns, Australia, the stewardess addressed the plane's turbulence on the intercom by advising us to please check that our "lap belts are favorably fastened." 

When our  Divemaster apologized after the newly-retrofitted-for-the-last-four-weeks dive boat was eight hours late leaving the dock, and even then under only one diesel engine instead of two, we knew exactly what he meant when he said things had "just gotten all higgledy-piggledy." 

They don't need to sell a book on how to translate Australian into English, but if they did, I'm sure it would be both hilarious and colorful.

But once you're underwater in the Great Barrier Reef, no translation book, dictionary or words can do it justice.  Given our late start last night, we hobbled up to Undine Reef from Cairns, where the old lighthouse stands no longer, leaving only a small spit of sand to govern the surrounding Sergeant Majors, Fusiliers, Bombardiers, and other schools of important-sounding fish. 

The boat may have hobbled, but underwater was nonpareil.  The colors astound, and the multitude of species of hard and soft corals, clams, turtles, nudibranchs and just about everything else burst from everywhere.  It's hard to absorb from behind a scuba mask diving here for the first time.  

Perhaps the best way to draw the comparison is between land snails and nudibranchs.  Land snails are brown, covered in a brown shell.  Boring, in a word.  Underwater it's quite different, however.  Nudibranchs are perhaps cousins of snails, yes, but color-wise, they are the Carmen Miranda of the ocean, and even that comparison doesn't do them justice. 

One nudibranch, called a Spanish dancer, is brilliant, two-inch-long elongated dark-neon blue shell-less body, surrounded by a wavy and equally neon orange frill that dances as the edges of its half-inch wide body undulates in a sine wave, propelling itself through the water, adorned with a similarly-bright, neon orange headdress of soft spikes, quite akin to a crown. 

As the Australians would say, "Brilliant."  There's no other word to describe it.

Tomorrow, MIPTC catches a glimpse of the Southern Cross after a sumptuous, champagne sunset over the coastline.  And yes, we found Nemo today, right there in his anemone home.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 at 19:46 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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