Sharks, Cone Shells, & Stone Fish
For so long I have been petrified of sharks. I thought they were one of the scariest things in the entire world. If I heard that there was even one shark in... well...any waters, I wouldn't even put a toe in that water. As you can probably imagine when I found out my family was going to the Great Barrier Reef, the first thought that came to mind was "I am NOT going to swim", but I realized I would have to eventually get into the water.
Next thing I knew, I was in a prop plane on my way to Lady Elliot Island which is located on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I looked down and saw the unbelievable infinite blue water and the colorful reef with manta rays and dolphins following our plane. All of a sudden, I looked to my left and there was a full double rainbow exposing all of its colors to us. Right when I thought it couldn't get any better, it did! The island was right there. The colors were unimaginable, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. "Are we actually going onto that island?" I exclaimed. Our plane circled around the land mass looking at every part of the reef surrounding it right before we landed on the short landing strip.
Yes, that's right, I had just landed in paradise...but before I could even unpack my belongings, my two older sisters were marching to the beach in their snorkel gear, calling me to join them for our first adventure. I squeezed on my flippers and spit in my goggles (to prevent fog). I started walking backwards (so I would not trip over my flippers) and towards the bright blue and turquoise sea. The large waves were crashing into me, and rocks, shells and pieces of dead coral all squeezed into my flippers. My goggles were already fogging up, and I hadn't even started snorkeling yet! I thought to myself, "Why would I jump into these shark infested waters with rocks in my flippers and zero visibility?" All of a sudden, I felt huge wave pull me into the water. I belly flopped into the big blue, swallowing water. I tried to come up for a gasp of air, but I couldn't breath because my nose was full of salty water and one of my flippers had fallen off.
Exhausted and frustrated, I took a moment to get my thoughts situated. I thought of all the dangerous things that could kill me: number one, shark; number two, a Cone Shell (they are known to shoot deadly venomous harpoons at you); number three, a Stone Fish (they are fish camouflaged as a stone and have spikes on their back, which when stepped on will eject a fatal venom). I love my sisters, but in that moment, not enough to follow them to my death!
I decided that I was going to go back onto land with the warm golden sand that was calling my name. When I looked up to tell Fabienne and my older sister that I was going to go back, I was shocked to see them cheering me to come back into the water! Even with their cheering, I was not too keen on snorkeling.
Harshly, I put my face in the water and started to swim back to shore. Then, I saw something I had never seen before; colors on top of colors! I couldn't go back to shore now, it was too beautiful. I swam to meet my sisters out at sea.
After snorkeling for what seemed like two or three hours, I looked up and saw that my family was telling me to come with them back onto shore. "Okay" I said quickly as I raced back to shore. On the way out, I saw the first green sea turtle I've ever seen in the wild. I quickly took action and swam to it. I saw it staring at me and I smiled at it and gave it a little scratch on the back. After what seemed like a minute or two of scratching the colorful round turtle, it took its last bite of algae and gracefully swam away.
I slept soundly that night and was up again the next morning, at sunrise, before I knew it. My sisters were yelling at me "Wake up fool! We're going snorkeling now, want to come?" Exhausted, I said “yes” and forced on my soggy wet bathing suit, damp reef shoes and went out the door.
I spent the next few days having the best time snorkeling with my family. I lost all traces of fear and even swam above some Nurse Sharks and Black Tipped Reef Sharks!