Both of my parents are working in a lab, so somehow it is comprehensible that I’m now posting this: Instead of going on a trip throughout Australia during my mid-semester break, I went to Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef, where the University of Queensland has a research station.
Life as a Researcher
Remember I told you that I was studying between my travels? No? Well, I am attending (more or less) four classes at the University of Queensland for one semester. One of them is Australia’s Marine Study, really popular amongst international students since part of it is one week of research at our research station on Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef.
We all met on Friday at 11pm, ready for the overnight trip on the bus. Everyone wore his T-Shirt indicating their experience in Marine Science. Some Sea Life Shirts, some University Marine Cubs and some with a smiling earth or a quote about the importance of nature. I checked which shirt I was putting on today. “We are wild and free”. Well.
A bus took us to the ferry, which would depart from Gladstone – a 9h drive from Brisbane. The bus trip wasn’t that bad, because I could find some sleep. The bad part of our journey was the 2h ferry ride. I love the sea, but on that day the sea didn’t love me..
When we finally arrived at our research station, we got allocated into our rooms and into our research group. My project was “Effect of algal toughness on fish herbivory on coral reef flats”. Yeah. In fact this project was only an excuse to go snorkeling. And we went snorkeling twice a day. Sometimes three times and eager students even four times. Each day started with breakfast at 7 (we were fully catered during the trip). Some of us already went snorkeling by then (I was happy to do a morning snorkel in my dreams). Breakfast was followed by morning tea and some group work, before we went into the water again. On each day we went to another spot to snorkel. We had lunch, before our snorkel in the arvo commenced and came back for tea and cake. A recap of the day was made in our groups, followed by, yees, you can imagine, dinner. After dinner we went strolling around the island, looking for turtles and bioluminiscent algae, while being mesmerized by the magnificent sky. I have never seen so many stars (even a shooting one) and even the milky way was clearly to see. On one night we went night snorkeling. Researchers live a pretty good life.
Animals I saw: Tiger sharks, turtles, eagle rays, squids, magpies, soo many different fish aand 103498473 sea cucumbers. Unfortunately the sun wasn’t always with us, that’s why my GoPro is struggling to represent the colorfulness of the Great Barrier Reef. Please go to Vimeo, to watch the video in HD.