::imaginative introspection::

Imagine that all life is an illusion. All that exists is this moment. No past, no future, each memory, every plan, a part of the illusion. Life, in a photograph.

Do you like the image of yourself?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Nearing Completion

My last day on this beautiful, rugged island was spent presenting my work on benthic fauna, packing up for our 6AM departure and relaxing and playing on the beach. Orpheus island was, by far, my favorite.

6/15/2008: Departing Orpheus very early

The boat ride back to the mainland was--difficult-- while it was beautiful to watch the sun rise behind the island, silhouetting the cliffs, the wind was strong and the waves were high. Our boat came close to capsizing several times, and without much to hang on to, it was all we could to to stay in the boat. After a four hour bus ride we finally reached Cairns (say it: cans) and pulled up to the Northern Greenhouse, our hostel. Out of all the hostels we've stayed at this is by far the nicest one.
6/16/2008: Snorkel Anyone?
Guess who snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef? That's me! It was beautiful! I was able to hire an underwater camera to take with me, and the photos are pretty good! I'm writing from an internet lounge now, so I cannot post them, but they will be up soon!
After our return to the city (about 5 pm) Jess and I got prettied up and went out for a fancy dinner where she taught me how to be a wine snob and we ate very very delicious tomato and pineapple soup! Then we danced our way through the midnight market--so cool--

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Birthday, OZ, and Becoming One With the Ocean

Brace yourself, it's a long one!

Oh man, how I love this place. After my few weeks here I'm nearing the end- and coming to terms with the fact that I'll have to come home eventually is harder than I thought it would be. I certainly am not ready to go. . . don't get me wrong (mom) I miss my family and everyone, but at the same time, the independence here is incredible. The country is beautiful- but I've only seen the east coast, there's still desert to explore!! And the gold coast! (west) So I might have to hitch a ride with some hippies along the way- it's all part of the adventure.

Hippies we met before Heron Island!

okay, so the updates:

June 8th rocked my world! We celebrated my birthday in Townsville (which is neither a small town or a big city. .. more of a Parma .. .) Anyway, we (meaning the crew here) went to an Irish pub where the guitarists sang me happy birthday, then to Mad Cow, a dance club next door, where we danced. alot. . AND. . .a pissed Australian got on his knees to sing happy birthday to me , and we danced, and drinks may or many not have been consumed. . .and we danced. . and somehow I woke up with a sombrero. . .What a night!

June 9th was a bus ride, a 2 hour wait in the rain, and a bumpy ride to Orpheus Island on a boat entirely too small for the 16 people squished on it.

Orpheus is my favorite of all the islands. The only thing on it is the research station, and the super-exclusive-rockstar-resort on the other side of the island. It's more rugged than Straddie and Heron, and it's ecology is different and the same altogether. It's a continental island, so the land isn't from a volcano or sand buildup, just a buckle in the shelf, and the reef is fringing around it, so it's not as huge as the other reefs. . .the water is more cloudy then Heron, but better than Straddie. ...Aside from the research station and resort the island itself is all forest. . .and it's full of bugs and birds and snakes and frogs. . .Found a python and a tree frog in the bathroom upon our arrive. . .I absolutely love it here!

June 10th--The day of the Death March!

Before the death march: Mangroves! And no mom, this isn't what you think, it's a tree.

Orpheus has a dense mangrove system, so, to familiarize ourselves with the different species, we climbed through the thick, muddy, slippery, dense (very very dense) mangrove system. We went over, under, through and on top of muddy mangrove roots, and man it was tough. Because of the nitrogenous layer of 'black mud' under the thin surface layer of sand, our climbing quickly got smelly! But it was definitely worth it!

The death march. . .you can only get to the other side of the island by taking a long, strenuous hike through the forest, up the ridge, over the summit and down the rocks to the beach. It is tough, not for the weak, the whiny, or the girly .... so of course, I was pumped. . . and so we hiked, we climbed, we discovered the largest spiders I have ever seen in my entire life, we slipped, skin was scraped, pants got muddy, bugs bit, birds squawked and girly girls screamed. . It was great!

also, some snorkeling. . love the reef love the reef love the reef. ..and! There are more things that can kill me here! woot!

June 11- Today I swam, swam and swam some more.

Today was the official start of our projects, and oh my it was a tough start. . .The project was on benthic fauner (ahem, fauna) - this is basically stuff that lives on the ocean floor and doesn't move much. So, corals, anenomes, cucumbers, gastropods, polychaetes, and clams. Well! Today, we decided to do the open water (subtidal) zone and the reef dropoff. To GET to these areas we had to walk about .8 km down a trail, climb over slippery rocks with clams (SHARP!)

wade into knee deep water, put on our snorkel gear (which we had to carry all this way) and swim out about 1 km to the open water, without kicking for about half the way so that we didn't hurt the corals. When we finally got into the open water we had to measure out a 10 meter line, dive down and tie the line to some dead coral, then do a 5 meter wide sweep along the line, counting everything we could see.

We did this twice, then swam back to the dropoff and did the same thing there, twice.

As we're doing this: the tide is coming in, so the water is a bit cloudy, we have to dive down pretty deep (2-3 meters), remember to equalize our ears, count what we can see, and come up for air!

As we swam in towards the dropoff something BIG brushes against my leg--it can only be a couple things so I'm not too worried, I turn to look and right next to me a black tipped reef shark is swimming. . .it was beyond cool. the thing was as long as I am tall, and just kept swimming along, it was probably a younger one, and curious. .so very very cool.

Reef sharks are harmless, really, so no worries (prounouced, no WAH-rays btw) just don't stick your hand in their face and you're good to go.

AND! It's dinner time, I'm tired, sore, itchy and hungry! And so very very happy.

Monday, June 2, 2008


A few days ago we were at Rainbow Beach. This is what happened there:

We hiked over the sand dunes, giant mounts of shifting, sliding sand. There was no escape from the winds, it seemed to turn with you as you worked to escape the sharp bite of the airborne sand. We had four hours to explore the beach and meet back up in Gladstone (a tiny town) to continue our very long bus ride.

With such strong winds the ocean was not a very welcoming site. The waves were at least 2, 2.5 meters high. However, after strolling on the beach and looking at shells etc. I couldn't resist the ocean. So, as I walked up the beach with Jess and Heather, I decided. You only live once. Off with my shirt and into the ocean! I got about 5 meters out when I was knocked over by a giant blue salty wave and washed up on the shore a minute later, realizing only after I stood up laughing, that I forgot to take my glasses off. Good thing I brought 3 pairs, it'll be my tribute to the Pacific, and who knows, maybe some half blind sea turtle will benifit from it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Heron Island

This island is beyond beautiful. Our ferry ride over was rough, with violent ocean. Most of our group spent the ride with their faces in a bag, wishing they didn't eat lunch. I sang. Because the research station burnt down two years ago and they haven't finished rebuilding, we're staying in
'tents' with bunk beds, 8 or 10 to a tent. Just after we dropped our bags the rain stopped, the sun came out and we headed for the beach. Again, it was beautiful. The island is small, you can walk around it in an hour, which is exactly what we did. With free time to explore we stayed on the beach, watching for sea turtles, stingrays and sharks (I saw a lemon shark, yay!) The water is clear blue and you can see everything that swims by. The sunset was beautiful, with the orange and pink light reflecting back onto the clouds, painting the entire sky. At dark we stopped for dinner, then went back out for more exploring. We saw dozens of ghost crabs, more sharks and stingrays, and (so cool) bioluminescent algae. Just sitting on the beach, staring at the milky way -which you can actually see!- and then there was a blue speck in the sand, flashing occasionally, right there between me and Jess.

It's official. I'm going to do research somewhere like this for the rest of my life. I love it!

We went snorkeling after brekky this morning, again, I'm just stunned by the beauty, the variety and the color of everything! Unfortunately, I dropped my underwater camera, it popped open, and promptly shut off. I'm hoping that It'll be okay after drying out, but it might take a few days. :(

Time for lunch!