Swimming with the fishies: my snorkelling experience in the Great Barrier Reef / by Jessica Lee

Magical. That is how I would describe being underwater, surrounded by colourful fish swimming around me at the Great Barrier Reef. It was as if I was in the middle of a tornado of fish. Whenever I moved, the fish would move with me, not wanting to collide. It was beautiful and one of the highlights of the trip.

If you ever visit Queensland, Australia, snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef is something you definitely have to do. It's not something you can experience vicariously by reading about it or looking at photos or videos.

I took a few photos from the surface, but these do not do the experience of being underwater justice.

Being underwater is frightening but magnificent at the same time. It's like being in a new world where you move much slower and there are new animals who swim up next to you. If I had encountered a shark, I wouldn't have known what to do. 

There are endless arrays of coral and rocks. The colours are captivating. We swam through a place where the coral looked like fluorescent blue deer antlers. We also swam to small openings of rock where we were frightened a shark would swim up from behind and corner us at any moment. It was just like being in Finding Nemo. 

Besides coral, there are many different types of fish. Believe it or not, if you don't move and just observe, you can hear the fish pecking away at the coral. It sounds sort of like two rocks hitting each other. It's really cool because the fish are completely comfortable with having people around and just go on with their eating. It's a unique experience. It's like watching a stranger in their home, but with fish, so it's not quite as weird.

The fish are gorgeous in vibrant colours and varied; they make me wish I remembered more of our studies of sea life taught to me back in year three of elementary school. Of the top of my head I can name about three species. There were about 30 different kinds of fish that I saw.

During our time on the reef, we headed to Lunchen Bay, Blue Pearl Bay and Black Island for snorkelling. All three were beautiful. Lunchen Bay and Blue Pearl Bay had plenty of fish and coral while Black Island had a colony of sea turtles. We spotted one, which was a metre long and I swam down and touched it's shell.

Back in Lunchen Bay, we also saw huge fish, more than a metre long, which scared the crap out of us. Imagine swimming and bumping into the guy below.

Here is a photo of coral. It looks more vibrant underwater but since I don't have a waterproof camera, this is what I got:

We also saw a man-ray from the boat, which apparently doesn't occur often.

It was spectacular to see one of the seven world wonders. One day I hope to see it all. I love that I am still young and there are so many possibilities.