Hardy Reef, Great Barrier Reef

By: leelefever on February 20, 2006 - 12:17am

The Hardy Reef at the Great Barrier Reef is a platform reef, which means that it has reached its full height and is now expanding outward. This means that when you dive or snorkel around it, there is a wall that goes from the surface to the sea floor, which is about 20-30 meters down.  Swimming over it felt like flying out over a cliff.

I was in awe. I had never seen such a reef and it convinced me to get SCUBA certified soon, but it won’t happen here- not enough time.

The water, the fish, the coral, all amazing...but what I enjoyed the most was the giant clams, which seems like a rather banal thing to be excited about. 


First it was their sheer scale.  Despite what you may have seen in a OO7 movie, they don’t eat people, but they do react and close up if you get near them. The rings that you see are like tree rings- one per year.



Second was the color.  They were by far the most brilliantly colored animals on the reef.  Some of them glowed in the sunlight and designers couldn’t put colors together more beautifully.


Third was the variety.  They say that clams are like fingerprints, there are no 2 that are exactly alike and I never two that were even close.


Dolphin Encounter, Kaikoura, New Zealand

By: leelefever on February 7, 2006 - 12:00pm

A few years ago, I went to the Bahamas with my family and I did a thing where you “swim with dolphins”.  These were well trained and captive dolphins in an enclosed area. I think I got a picture of one giving me a kiss.  This Dolphin Encounter was much, much different.

Kaikoura, New Zealand is next to a great underwater canyon that goes down over 1200 meters.  The waters are nutrient rich and many pods of Dusky Dolphins and Sperm Whales live off the coast of Kaikoura, making it a huge destination for folks like us, wanting to see marine mammals.


Like Sachi said earlier, our goal is to be “in” something and not just watching from afar, like the Kawarau River and Franz Joseph Glacier.  This time, a company called “Dolphin Encounter” gave us this opportunity for $125NZ ($90US) per person.  Note: Make reservations well in advance.

They suit you up in wetsuits and snorkel gear and take you out to the open ocean and drop you into the water near a pod of wild dolphins that often come investigate.  For about an hour collectively, we were in the dolphin’s underwater world, watching them through our masks as they navigate just feet and sometimes inches from us. It was an indescribable feeling to see them appear out of the blue and swim by.


What struck us both was that, for a fleeting moment, you got a feeling of connectedness a dolphin or two.  They would swim by and turn there body to make clear eye contact and sometimes keep that contact while circling you. As the dolphin encounter people said, we are sometimes entertainment for them, especially since we were ,coached to make “dolphin sounds” underwater, which I’m sure they found entertaining.


The Dusky Dolphins are quite acrobatic and a few theories as to why they jump are:  To scratch their back (remove loose skin), attract a mate (they are very promiscuous by the way) or purely for fun.


The Dolphin Encounter company is highly regulated by the government and can only allow so many people into the water for so long, so many times a day.  The dolphins, though surely not used to swimming with people, are well protected – something New Zealand does very well. 

Syndicate content