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Wildlife Extravaganza

Wow, what an incredible week. It’s school holidays here in Australia, which means time for a little vacation. When it’s winter in Australia, the Aussies head north to the tropical part of the country, and so that’s what we decided to do.

We booked a liveaboard scuba dive trip to the Great Barrier Reef, and then spent a few days in the rainforest north of Cairns. By all accounts, the trip was a big success, particularly in terms of seeing lots of wildlife.

I’ll probably write more about the health of the Great Barrier Reef in a future blog — I have to do a little research first. But, I think I can accurately report on the wildlife we saw both on the reef and in the rainforest.

Starting with the reef, the coolest thing we saw were Minke whales. These are dwarf whales, and really look like especially large dolphins. They act like dolphins as well, which means that they’re fairly interested in people and are attracted to boats.

On the first day of the liveaboard, we got a sudden knock on our door, so we hustled down for the dive brief.  Turns out, the Minke whales had come out to our boat, and were swimming around. It was time for us to get in the water to snorkel with the whales! It was a pretty neat experience to see a whale suddenly appear out of the deep blue ocean, and swim right under you. I counted, and I think there were about 6 whales all together, and they swam by and around us for a long time. In fact, they were still swimming around when we got out of the water because we were starting to get cold, and had to get ready for our next dive.

Seeing the whales was great, and everything after that felt like a big bonus. We saw cuttlefish, lots of nudibranchs, white tip sharks, turtles, hermit crabs, heaps of fish, eels, oodles of coral, giant potato cod, and lots of really interesting small things. It was awesome!

After the reef trip, we headed north to the Daintree rainforest. It is winter time here, so I think not the best time for birding. However, we did manage to see two cassowaries, appropriately named Fred and Wilma, who regularly visit the amazing Daintree Wilderness Lodge. There are not many of these birds left, and they don’t really like people, so they’re fairly hard to spot. However, these two were coming almost daily to the Wilderness Lodge, and just as we were getting in the car to leave, they came and yelled to let us know that the cassowaries were around. Excellent!

There are lots of interesting things to say about the reef and also the rainforest, so watch out for some future blogs on those topics.

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