It’s our last day here on the island and I’m definitely going to miss it. Over the course of this adventure I have definitely learned some things. Some stuff I would definitely do again and some stuff I would do differently on my next international trip. I thought sharing it with you might help make your experience the best it can be. :)
Susie and I travelled around Australia for two weeks before we came to the island and I would highly recommend it. Being able to experience the culture and see some of the important sights has really enhanced my experience here. I really got lucky with Susie because she had served her mission in Australia. She knew the place pretty well, could drive enough to not kill us (most of the time), and knew people that we could stay with the whole time. That cut our costs pretty low, enabled us to meet a ton of locals, and gave us reasons to hire (which means rent) a car and travel around a lot. For the average traveler, that won’t really be an option, but you can still see a ton and meet a ton of people.
Don't wear yourself out!
I think that Susie and I pushed the traveling before to the limit. We came out two weeks early and did stuff NON-STOP. When we first got to the island it was hard to jump into the fun of it because we were so tired. So, although I think traveling is something you should do, don't push yourself too hard. Take some chill days to relax so you can fully enjoy the experience on the reef.
Darling Harbour is such a fun, little place to check out! There are plenty of great places to snap a picture and also places to goof around.
Surf Lessons at Manly Beach
We did not spend a long time at Bondi beach, and I so wish we could've stayed longer! It was such a chill vibe and the views were great! All along the walkway there are beautiful murals that are great to take pictures in front of! It'd be great to make a nice beach day of it.
This one is definitely very far out of Sydney, but if you want to head up this direction, or are up there anyways for some reason, I would check out Jenolan Caves. It's free and very beautiful. The drive there is difficult because the road is very windy and narrow, so I would only tackle that if you are a very confident driver. Get there as early as possible to beat the crowds and experience the views as the sun creeps up in the sky.
On Heron Island:
Traveling With Mental Health Issues:
Talk to a Counselor Before Leaving
It is sometimes a good idea to talk to a professional to get some helpful advice before you jump on a plane. You can mentally prepare for adverse situations and gain skills to help with general bleh of traveling.
You don’t have to enjoy yourself
Don't put pressure on yourself to feel happy or excited when you are "supposed to." If you don't enjoy yourself, that's okay! Every moment of your trip does not have to be monumental or life changing, some moments can be average and some can even suck. Nobody wants to feel sucky on their trip, but sometimes you just do and that's nothing to feel guilty or ashamed of. Sometimes, feeling sucky on your trip can even be a good thing! While away you can take the time to deal with those feelings and work through them and maybe be able to feel even better when you get back!
Don’t let others make you feel guilty for how you feel
Just remember that your feelings are valid (although maybe exaggerated by the stress) and there is no need to force yourself to think a certain way. Just listen and be open with yourself and you will find positives in your experience. Others can't know what's in your head and you know whats best for you. People from back home might be making you feel pressured to feel a certain way, but try to keep the mindset that this is your trip and you can choose to shape your experience how ever you want.
Don’t do things you don’t want to!
You don’t need to do anything you don’t want to do in order to have a good time. You are capable of enjoying yourself with whatever you're doing. If you always do something just in spite of your anxiety isn’t that giving it the same power over your life as you would if you never did something because of your anxiety? And if you have the mindset that you need do something because it is the “better” option, you’ll never be fully happy. There is always something better. And if you’re always searching for those one in a life time experiences, you’ll only be happy once in your life. The key is to find happiness where you are.
Halal, is it meat you're looking for?
Shout out to my favorite person on this planet! ;) I'll see you soon!
I'M GOING TO MISS HERON ISLAND. I LEARNED SO MUCH AND IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!!
I didn't do a ton today. In the morning, Susie and I worked on our project (we finished it later in the day) then went to our hammocking spot and spent a half an hour relaxing. After lunch, the rest of the day kind of followed that pattern of working and relaxing.
I went on the evening swim today. The vis wasn't the best, but I still saw some cool stuff! Here at Heron island, they have a ship wreck at the edge of the boat harbor that you can swim in during high tide. While out there, I saw some beautiful boobies, an eagle ray, and a White-Tip Reef Shark!! When we got out of the water we saw a shark do the fin thing. You know? Like in the movies when they swim along the surface and you can see their fin? Yeah it was super cool. Gah, I love sharks.
Also, Logan did a backflop and I caught it on camera.
During dinner, we discussed Edd's tum tum extensively.
It has also been requested of me to do mythology for everyone. I'm thinking about it, so we'll see!
Some of the blood vessels in a whale are so big that you could swim through them!
I dragged myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 6am to go on the morning swim. I must begrudgingly tell you that it was in fact, worth it. We entered by way of the jetty. There are a set of stairs that lead down to the surface which basically means we just stepped into the water. :P Well, Edd did a front flip and Logan did a backflip. It was a little chilly, but not as chilly as I thought it would be.
I saw a 6 foot black tip shark (pictured above) and it swam right past me. It was so cool. Sharks have electro-receptors which means they can tell where you are long before you even see them. So the fact that it gets so close to anyone is so cool! They basically let you see them. They allow you a glimpse into their life for a fleeting moment and it's so special and powerful. It scared the shit out of that turtle right there though. XD
I also saw a guitar shark, a wobbegong, a giant grouper that was nearly the size of me, and a flounder.
It was my favorite snorkel so far!
In the past our planet lay barren with no trace of life. The sea tried to emulate life as it slithered and writhed under the piercing sun but could not muster consciousness.
Then one day, a being from the skies descended to the edge of the water. His wind tousled hair and tilted smile gave him a charming, mischievous aura. He spoke in a manner that no human today could understand, because it sounded as if he was speaking in many different tongues all at once.
He looked out across the horizon and chortled a mighty chortle as if in pity of the desolate scene. With great grace and power, he lowered himself to one knee to bring his lips close to the surface. With once lengthy breath he churned the surface and in the little eddies single cells swirled into existence. He beamed proudly at his work and watched their slow movements. With his immense hand he traced the currents and watched as the cells joined together one after the other.
He stood back and watched as lustrous scales, supple skin, and shadowy hair were gradually formed and then shaped into a being with beautiful curves that mimicked the waves in which it was born. This beautiful being used her fish tail to hold her head above the water. She looked at this god with her blinking blue eyes. Though new, her stare held wisdom beyond her years. This man could not help but be completely enamored with this gorgeous creature and returned each day for the following year to see her.
One day, he gained the courage to ask her if she would join him on land as he reached down to pull to her out of the water. She took his hand and let his mighty strength lift her, and the touch of the air melted away her scales to reveal legs like that of the god’s so that they could be together forever on the land. They walked the earth and occasionally visited the ocean to watch as the cells joined to form more creatures. In modern times they still walk among us and share their love of the ocean with all who will listen.
These are the results Susie and I have worked so hard to get. (Edd says we didn't work that hard but he's a liar so....) Hahaha anyways, the fact that the blue line goes up at all means that we done good.
HERON ISLAND FACT:
When it rains, IT POURS.
Today Susie and I worked on our project and collected more research, but when I was analyzing the data Edd informed me that there is a confounding factor. We didn't record what type of coral we were looking at each time we collected data. There are more fish around branching coral (like in the picture) because there are more places to hide. Conversely, less fish hang around boulder coral. So, we can't tell if the amount of fish was because of the overal health or the type of coral. So, to have a more accurate study, we will probably have to collect enough data tomorrow to replace today's and yesterday's. It's a real bummer (like a real bummer) but we can do it! We have enough time. The real problem is that it's supposed to be more wavy tomorrow than today.
We just went crab hunting. Well, that's what it turned into for part of it. (One was named Crunando!!!) We originally went down to the beach to look for bioluminescent algae. We saw two teeny tiny little dots of it, but we mostly looked at the sky. It was partially cloudy and made the stars look really cool. We had red lights and could barely see and barely tell where the ocean was! White light is all that's allowed on the beach because white light disorients turtles.
*sticks finger into hole* *screams* I didn't touch anything, I just got scared.
You don't see the lump?!
The seagulls here are hilarious. Accept for when they swoop at your face and steal food right out of your hands. But they are very aggressive towards each other and don't like it when other birds get close to them so they do this ridiculous dance thingy.
These ridiculous, stupid looking birds are the descendants of the giant, threatening T-rex.
We had a lot of free time today! This is because some of the people in our class are scuba certified and got an opportunity to do a dive! So Trish, Edd, Teal, and Logan went diving and the rest of us got some free time!
Susie and I decided to use our first chunk of free time to find a nice place to hammock. We found a spot on North Beach (more on the tourist side of the island) where we were sheltered from the wind AND partially in the sunshine. Susie read her book about old timey kings, queens, adultery and such while I listened to some Bob Marley and swayed in the breeze.
When I looked to the horizon, I remembered that all my troubles are hundreds of kilometers across the ocean. I'm on this little island with barely a care at all. IT'S SO NICE. It was a little slice of heaven, that's what it was. Susie and I both agreed that it was the most comfortable we had been on the whole trip.
For this class we have to complete a group project. Susie and I have decided to study how coral health on patch reefs (basically little bundles of coral like shown above) affects the abundance of fish on those reefs. We went out today in rather wavy water and counted fish (A PAIN IN THE WRASSE) and assesed coral health by looking at the predominant color in each of the squares of the quadrat.
For all you future students, the project isn't something to be scared of. You decide what you want to research do it then write up your results. It's literally the same as all the labs leading up to it (which are very straightforward) but without Trish and Edd swimming right next to you.
HERON ISLAND FACTS:
Heron island used to have a turtle cannery on it from 1926-29, but it shut down because it wasn't economically successful.
"Turtle riding" used to be an activity offered here on the island in 1938. Tourists would basically sit on the turtles as they struggled to return to the ocean after laying eggs.
Most of the nice sand is parrot fish poop.
Sharks are negatively buoyant (they sink) so they technically "fly" through the water using updraft from their fins to continue moving along at the same depth.
The more you know!
The hole in your butt keeps growing... and it's so fun to watch!
Context for the quote:
Teal, another student, has a giant hole in the butt of her wetsuit that has grown steadily throughout the course of this trip and I find it rather funny.
If you have noticed the quality of my blog posts declining, it's because I'm getting more and more tired at the end of each day. So I kind of just half-ass it so I can go to bed. (I can't stay up past 10 without dying now) But don't worry, it's a good thing! We've been thoroughly worn out by all of our dives and labs and delicious meals! We've seen so much cool stuff and learned so many interesting facts and eaten the most delicious food!!!
Today we calculated the abundance of various families of fish during high and low tide. Getting data on low tide went pretty quick because we just had to walk along the reef with our camera. High tide took a little longer because we had to get all suited up to collect the information. We found that there is a much higher abundance of fish during high tide than there is during low tide.
We've done three labs and written a lab report after each one. The labs have been fairly simple and the reports are a max of two pages long. That's the hardest this class has gotten. It isn't so hard as to prevent you from having a good time, but it teaches you a lot. :) If you are interested in science even a tiny bit TAKE THIS CLASS.
THE QUESTION I KNOW YOU'VE BEEN DYING TO ASK.
Which way does the toilet water spin?
Let me tell you something.
I have not encountered a single toilet with a discernable spin. Every toilet I have used, wether it be at a house, hotel, restruant, store, or anywhere else, has been the same. It is the kind of toilet with two buttons on the top, one for a little flush and the other for a bigger flush. When you push one of them it blasts water into the bowl from the top and does so with enough force that a swirl, swish, twirl, or swoosh never happens. So, I am sorry to say that the toilet water does not spin the other way.
Today just happens to be the day that so many wonderful people were born! First up, we've got my fabulous travel buddy pictured above with a cake that Pat, the chef, cooked for her. We had a mini surprise party With decorations and everything! I brought them with me to the island because I love celebrating people's birthdays and making them feel special. Second is Jameson the love of my life (Hi! I love you!) and third is my fantastic dad who has made this trip possible for me (I love you, Dad!!).
Besides birthdays, we had our first and only test in this class. We had to identify species and write their common names and scientific names. We all studied really hard in the hour before (because we didn't do much studying before) and I think we all did pretty well :)
Then we went out to the outer reef again and saw tons of schools of fish! I had so much fun swimming through the center of them and watching them move out of my way!! Most of them were an shimmery green, blue, yellow color which was pretty dope. I also enjoyed swimming around and getting some gopro footage of everyone so they could all have a good picture of themselves snorkeling instead of just a selfie.
Today we went out to the outer reef and it. was. AMAZING. The reef out there stays a pretty consistent temperature compared to the reefs closer to shore that are more affected by the tides, so there is a ton more diversity! I took like a thousand videos on one of the go pros that we use for research and took some good screenshots to show you guys.
I saw my first shark! It was just a little guy, a little black tip reef shark. He didn't bite me... so that's a bumer XD
I saw plenty of fish that were in Nemo and found myself humming some of the soundtrack as I swam. (Let's name the zones, the zones, the zones, let's name the zones, oh the zones of the sea! THEEERRRRRREEESSSSS)
Anyways, I saw some little squids and enjoyed petting some jellyfish (again, not harmful).
We were out there for about an hour and there was a bit of a current and we went rather far, so when we got back I was exhausted. So of course we jumped right into lecture, then a reef walk to judge it's health based on color, and then another sunset snorkel. On that dive I saw a giant sting ray that was as big as my wingspan and I swam above it for quite a while. Then we had a hearty dinner and went stargazing. You can see so many stars it's breathtaking. We identified the southern cross, Jupiter, Saturn, Sirius, and Canis Major.
Now I am completey knackered. I could close my eyes just sitting here and sleep until morning. There is an optional morning snorkel at 6:30 and I am definitely going to pass on that one! :) :) :)
I found something! It's not moving. It's a rock.
Howdy folks! This morning was a bit rough. I had absolutely no desire to get out of bed. It felt like gravity was pulling me down and any resistance would be futile. But once I got in the ocean every thing was fine! :)
We went to "Shark Bay" and it was beautiful! It's been my favorite place to snorkel so far! We were doing a lab that was testing the abundance of invertebrates in surface sediment based on distance from a coral colony. So we had to use these syringe thingys to get a sample. We had to stick it deep in the sand then dig down with our hand to cap it off then bring it to the surface. Given that we were in sea water and had wetsuits on it was very hard to stay down to get this done. So we were exhausted by the end, but it was still fun!
Then, back in the lab, we sifted through all the sand with magnifying glasses, forceps, eyedroppers, and a microscope to find all these teeny tiny little beasties. It was a challenge. One group didn't find anything in two of their samples. They were hopeful! Chase kept looking. But found only a rock. XD
I mentioned yesterday that there were a ton of jellyfish and salps (little gelatinous creatures) we were swimming through basically the whole time. Remember? Well it's true. And apparently that's suuuuuper rare. Trish and Edd who have come here many times said that they haven't ever seen a jelly fish here. The workers here say that the weather has been way weird and it is actually a lot colder than it should be right now. That's why all these little squishy things are around because they usually live in colder waters. So that's cool.
We are heading out to the outer reef tomorrow! AH! So scary and exciting! We will head out on a boat, jump into blue water, and then be left to drift until we meet up with the boat again. Hopefully I see a shark! A big one!!
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT HERON ISLAND:
There is a species of tree on this island that produces a very sticky seed. Birds will land on these trees and get caught in the sticky seeds. They are not able to free themselves and will definitely die. We are not allowed to help the birds in any way, because the once the birds die they supply the nutrients that make it possible for trees and plants to grow on this island.
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY'S AUSSIE QUIZ:
Knackered means exhausted.
Chook is a word for a chicken.
Esky is a cooler. Like one of those big ones, you know?
Macca's is a McDonald's. Kind of like how we call it Mickey D's
A rock melon is a cantaloupe!
None of you got them all right! A good chunk of you got most of them though!
Yesterday I was so nervous about everything and getting in the ocean (Trisha and Edd have made very clear theat there are some deadly beasties in the ocean), but we got a bright start this morning and entered the ocean promptly at 6:30 before I even had time to wake up and think about it. :) It was rather cold, windy, wavey, and the visibilty was low... but it was still SO COOL. There were lots of little (harmless) moon jellies at the surface that you were swimming through the whole time and we saw lots of parrot fish and a school of big fellas. I should probably know what species they were because I have a test on species identification on Sunday..... haha school mode hasn't quite kicked in yet. XD
The chef here is magnificent! He cooks good food that is good for you! It isn't just cafeteria style food, it's gourmet. *mwah* We had a tastey breakfast. Well, I assume it was tastey.... it had eggs in it so I stuck to cereal and toast.... BUT it looked great!
We were planning on having a lecture after that, but our whole schedule was changed due to technical difficulties with the projector for our lesson. So we went and did field work! We analyzed changes in benthic cover according to distance by calculating the percentage of of various substrates in half meter quadrants along a 15 meter transect running from the reef crest into the lagoon. Do I sound smart yet? I also learned that when you get scraped by coral it's very likely to get infected because the living matter of the coral get in your cut and it decays. So you get decaying flesh in your wound. That's some zombie shit right there. Anyways, we basically guessed how much coral, sand, and algae was in a little square along a tape measure that we put along the bottom.
Then we went back to the lab and worked on graphing and analyzing and writing a lab report. Pretty cool man. I could see how people did this for a living.
Then I sat on the edge of the jetty (that mean's dock) and watched the sun set. The sunset is gorgeous and fills the whole sky!! But it also goes away really quickly. You can watch the sun (not directly obviously :P) actually move down towards the horizon and disappear. It really makes you think about our Earth floating and twirling in space...
Also, I saw a really big loggerhead turtle come up to breath!
It's been a good first day and I definitely feel a lot better from yesterday. Except I got bit by a spider in the night. It's right behind my left ear so it looks like a little alien put eggs in my brain. Oh well.
ANSWERS FOR YESTERDAY'S QUIZ:
Brekky means Breakfast
Granola bars are called Muesli Bars. In fact granola in general is just called muesli.
Dag mean a sheep's dingleberry
And fanny is a swear word here. It is the equivalent of c*nt in the states. So, instead of fanny pack, you say bum bag.
Two of you aced it! I don't know who! Good job whos!
A quote that inspired me today:
If it hadn't been for Cotton-Eyed Joe, I'd been married a long time ago. Where did you come from? Where did you go? Where did you come from, Cotton-Eyed Joe?"
Okay but really, I wrote this poem for my poetry class this last semester. Maybe it's good, maybe it's not. Either way, here it is anyways!"
a walk through the ocean