Heron Island is split into two sides, the research side (which we spend most of our time in), and the resort/conservation side. I took my first snorkel out into a conservation area today, which is extremely protected, both physically (from the prevailing winds) and regulatory (no collection, no fishing, no muckin about)! I was flabbergasted by the density of the coral structure, the species diversity, and abundance of all the fauna. It reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books growing up, "One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish". Everywhere I looked more fish, more colors, all shapes, all sizes. It may only be a 40 acre island but the 30,000+ acres of reef structure just keeps on giving. Within an hours time I saw three distinct species of puffer fish, sharks, a blue ringed octopus, clams, coral, grouper hunting, parrot fish munching on coral, cleaner wrasse of all shapes/colors parasite cleansing, three different variants of Nemo, star fish, eels, eagle rays, sea turtles, and on, and on, and on! Sensory overload to say the least, another experience of a lifetime to say the most. My only regret was not wearing a thicker wet suit so I could stay out there longer. The best part was watching the whole group chasing down individual species they where interested in then instantly seeing something else, and switching their focus to their new target of interest and off in another direction they went. Well that, and watching everyone inverting themselves, plopping their heads on the ocean floor, and contorting their bodies to get the best possible shot of these unique creatures.