Meeting up with sharks, turtles and stingrays

Cairns Travel Blog

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Me and my new buddy (the shark)

We had an uneventful flight up to Cairns and settled into our Hostal.  Despite some immediate objections from Ana in regards to our room, she eventually was able to get comfortable.  Cairns is more a basic resort town that serves as a base for boat trips to the Great Barrier Reef which was exactly why we were there.

We took our SCUBA diving course with Deep Sea Divers Den which started off with two days at their shop which lasted from about 9-5pm and included educational videos, physicals and a few hours of scuba training in their pool every day.  On the third day we headed out to sea for the beginning of our 4 training dives to become certified SCUBA divers.  We did 3 of these dives on the first day and 1 on the second and were quickly certified scuba divers.

A Reef Shark sleeping in the sand.
  Each of those first 4 was with a instructor but it was pretty cool to jump in the water 24 hours after our first training dive in the ocean to be ready to dive on our own.  After see a small sea turtle about 5 minutes into our first solo dive it was much more relaxing.  In total we did 10 dives, 4 were part of our initial training, 2 were part of the advanced training course that we probably will finish in Thailand and 4 were just for the fun of it.

It was on the first day that I had my first sighting of a shark while I was still out of the water.  After dinner I went to the upper deck to watch people doing their night dive and with the light from the boat could see the sharks swimming around.   Since these reef sharks tend to sleep during the day and hunt at night this was a good opportunity to see them on the move.

Blue spotted sting ray in the sand.
  After all the divers got back on the boat the crew started playing with the sharks by putting a fish on a rope and pulling it through the water.  Eventually we saw about 15 sharks on the back of the boat which was pretty cool. 

I saw my first sharks in the water the next day.  After swimming over a beautiful blue spotted sting ray and past a big school of barracudas we saw a shark lying on the ground sleeping and he just ignored us.  Later that night it was time for our night dive and we of course we jumped into the same pool of water where we had seen the sharks a few hours earlier.  It is really weird jumping into the ocean 20 miles from shore when you can’t see what is in the water.  We did have flashlights, but that limits your viewing to the small area covered by the light.

Ana and I with a school of barracudas in the background.
  We unfortunately didn’t see any sharks during our night dive, but did see a giant (3 foot in diameter) sleeping sea turtle. 

On the dive the next morning the instructor encouraged us to play a game and see who could get the closest to a shark.  You find a sleeping shark and slowly crawl in the sand to see how close you can get without waking him up.  Ana voluntarily lost this game and I only got to about 6 feet before waking him up.  By the last dive I would see a shark and point it out to Ana, she would shrug her shoulders as if she didn’t care and keep on swimming.

It took us all 10 dives to feel really comfortable in the water and by then we were ready to get back to land.

Snorkeling about 20 miles fron the coast.
  While our room on the boat was one of the nicest rooms we have stayed in, 3 days of diving and 2 nights of sleeping on waves was enough.  We returned to shore and stayed at a pretty nice French hotel for only $71.  We learned we could save money by buying ice cream at McDonalds for 50 cents and then using their free internet.  Ana was even willing to save taxi money by walking the 3 miles to the airport instead of spending $20 on a taxi.  Unfortunately, I think she is going to force me to use that saved money on hotels in China…we will see!

dlillback says:
Nice work JoeMoeddel....going to Finland on Tuesday, so once again we will be connected by land. Miss you.
Posted on: Jun 13, 2009
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Me and my new buddy (the shark)
Me and my new buddy (the shark)
A Reef Shark sleeping in the sand.
A Reef Shark sleeping in the sand.
Blue spotted sting ray in the sand.
Blue spotted sting ray in the sand.
Ana and I with a school of barracu…
Ana and I with a school of barrac…
Snorkeling about 20 miles fron the…
Snorkeling about 20 miles fron th…
Just before sunset on the boat.
Just before sunset on the boat.
The sun setting on the boat.
The sun setting on the boat.
You can count 11 sharks in this pi…
You can count 11 sharks in this p…
That is the guy who taught us how …
That is the guy who taught us how…
You can see the reef in the backgr…
You can see the reef in the backg…
The center of Cairns
The center of Cairns
The not so beautiful beach of Cair…
The not so beautiful beach of Cai…
And and I in front of our boat.
And and I in front of our boat.
Our room on the boat (a little mes…
Our room on the boat (a little me…
The lounge of our boat.
The lounge of our boat.
The boat we spent two nights on.
The boat we spent two nights on.
This is the boat that took us to o…
This is the boat that took us to …
Ana on the road to the airport.
Ana on the road to the airport.
Cairns
photo by: Katie_Kate