Originally posted here.
8:43 PM AEST
A slower day today. The main event was another trip to the back reef. We saw more big animals this time: no less than six sea turtles, one of which swam very close by, a manta ray which I missed because I was too far away, and an octopus that I found on a massive coral (a massive coral is a single, large, boulder-like coral) which scooted around the top of its perch, occasionally adjusting its camouflage. It was most likely examining us just as closely as we were examining it. It wasn't a huge octopus, but it was decent sized, with the mantle being the size of a football or so.
It was a long swim against the current, and I eventually reached the limits of my (admittedly poor) endurance. I was in no danger of drowning considering I could remain afloat indefinitely just from the buoyancy of my wet suit, but when we reached the boat and started taking off our fins I could feel my legs threatening to cramp up. They never went into a full-on cramp, but I made a point to take it easy for the next few days.
We're starting to look toward the end of the course. We had our last lecture today--from here we'll start designing and conducting our own research. The reef around Heron has multiple zones, among them a scientific zone and a research zone where collections are forbidden. I'm considering doing my project on evaluating whether there's an actual difference in coral impact between them.
The weather is turning. We may get storms, and we seem to be getting cooler temperatures already.
That's it for tonight. The only scheduled event tomorrow is a morning swim. After that, it's all working on developing proposals for our research projects.