Location: Underway to Cairns
This morning I woke up just as Watch Team 1 anchored us at our location for the day, the Yongala shipwreck. The Yongala was a steam passenger/cargo ship that sunk in 1911 en route from Mackay to Townsville and is now considered one of the best shipwreck dives in Australia. As we dove down, a halo of fish surrounded the wreckfish of all sizes and colors, some on their own and some in large schools. They seemed unfazed by divers, and some swam within inches of us. In addition to all of the corals and fish, my dive buddy Grace and I got to see a huge loggerhead turtle, a resting nurse shark, and a ray with a wingspan of at least 5 feet. After a lunch of cheesy pesto pasta and veggies, those of us who wanted to do a second dive set up the gear and headed out once again. Once I reached the bottom, I turned over and looked up, gazing at a school of hundreds of fish, silhouetted against the sun so calming and amazinga great last dive of the trip. I am currently writing this while sitting in the cockpit on deck, enjoying the perfect weather as we start our final passage of the trip. We have only been underway for about an hour and have already seen three humpback whales, including a mother and calf. We have easily seen over three-dozen whales within the past week. Definitely the most I have ever seen in my life. Humpback whales spend the summer in Antarctica feeding and then migrate to the Whitsundays and the surrounding area during the winter (remember, we are in the southern hemisphere) to breed and give birth to their calves. It has been pretty awesome for me to get to teach about humpbacks in Marine Biology and then see the moms and calves here giving a personal demonstration for the class. Yay science!