Petting Wally at Reefworld part two
We woke up to Nathan’s Timex watch at 6:30 to get ready for our continental breakfast out on the deck at 7:15. We were happy to see that the storm had passed as we looked out on gorgeous blue skies and calm water. After a nice light breakfast, we packed up our stuff and checked out of our room so our host could prepare the room for the new Reefsleepers. We then went straight to the scuba area to prepare for our second dive of the Reefsleep.
The German couple decided to join us for this dive, but Andreas (the husband) wasn’t so sure that his cold would allow him to handle being under pressure without blocking his sinus passages. He decided to try it anyway, and we geared up before heading out on a platform boat for our “giant stride” entry into the ocean. Our plan on this morning’s dive was to start a ways out from the boat, and then take our time following the tide back in to the dive platform located underneath the boat. Andreas was unsuccessful in clearing his ears and had to stay at the surface for a snorkel. The rest of us descended down the chain of a buoy and started exploring the reef. The dive was much calmer today without the flailing Australian we were with the day before, and we had a great time looking at all the different natural sights on the reef. The dive itself was fairly uneventful since we didn’t see many new things, but still quite enjoyable. Our guide Aaron showed us a few small shrimp and then surprised us one time when he turned around with a starfish on his mask. The starfish had one leg broken off, but we could see where it was regenerating. We saw another large sea cucumber and many different kinds of coral and clams. At the very end on our safety stop, Aaron released some fish food and we were swarmed with a school of dozens of white blue and yellow fish going crazy for the food. We were also joined by the giant wrasse (over 6ft. long, and fat) that they call Wally. He came close enough for us to pet him, and we were surprised at how slippery he felt. We were told later that Wally had previously been a female wrasse, but when she became the dominant female in the group, she chemically changed sexes and became the lone male of the group. Since male wrasses are quite territorial, Wally was the only one around, and was a regular sight for everyone visiting Reefworld.
By the time we got our gear off and had a nice fresh water rinse, the new guests for the day were arriving. We quickly claimed a good spot on the sun deck and had a nice break reading. Before lunch, we decided to board Reefworld’s other semi-submersible for another look at the reef. We had many great views of the reef again, but nothing really new or out of the ordinary.
Back on the pontoon we grabbed lunch, the same buffet from the previous day, and then relaxed a bit before getting back in the water. We snorkeled around near where we dove in the morning, and saw quite a few nice sized fish and large clams. When we were pretty far from the pontoon, one of the Fantasea staff approached us on a motorized boat and we thought he was going to tell us to come on back in. Instead he gave us a number of great suggestions for where we could find some nice things to see underwater. The most interesting of them was a group of clownfish, or “Nemos” as everyone called them, living among some anemone. Just like in the movie Finding Nemo, clownfish make their home among anemone. The clownfish help protect the anemone from fish that would eat it, and in return the anemone makes a nice home for the clownfish since they are immune to the anemone’s stings. We tried to get some pictures of it with our one-time-use Kodak underwater camera, but we’re not sure if we were using it well or not. We’ll find out soon enough!
After drying off from snorkeling, we had another half hour or so before boarding the boat for our ride back to Airlie Beach. Nathan was thoroughly engrossed in another Dan Brown novel, Angels and Demons, and read the whole ride back while Susan napped. The only break was to enjoy some of the cheese, crackers, fruit, and cake that the staff set out, and to get our dive books signed and stamped. We returned safely to our hostel around 5pm and checked into the same room we had two nights ago.
We dumped all our whites into the laundry and headed out to explore the town and ended up at the local Global Gossip for our email and internet fix. Afterwards we ordered a Domino’s pizza and enjoyed it back at our hostel kitchen area while our laundry finished its cycle. We fell asleep that night after watching Kung Fu Hustle on DVD.