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Sophie's Australia Adventure

Just Keep Swimming!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Yesterday we transferred out to Orpheus Island to conduct research. Oh, that went well! I had a lot of fun, but we didn't get much work done. First we went out in the morning to watch fish. I got very thirsty and Laura and I found NO FISH AT ALL! We couldn't find the "minimum observer distance" where we could see the fish but not scare them away. The water was very murky (though no where near as bad as LA) so we had to be on top of the fish to see them. But this scared them away. After about two hours of this, we took a break for lunch. And then it was back in your wetsuits and back in the water! This time we had to conduct several transects. We were supposed to tie the end of a tape measure around a piece of coral and roll the tape out to fifty meters. Then we should have swam along the tape and recorded every meter what we saw (soft coral, branching coral, massive coral, table coral, dead coral and algae, sand, rubble, or seaweed). But our tape wouldn't stop flipping over to the not-meter side! Eventually we got one transect done, but by this point, my mask had started malfunctioning, and I got saltwater in my eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. The mouthoiece on the snorkel also cut into the roof of my mouth, which is still sore. But, we were in the Great Barrier Reef. It was breathtaking.

Gone Bananas

Today, we visited the banana farm. There were a lot of bananas there, but we didn't get to sample any. We DID get to ride around the farm on a truck that was NOT meant for humans, stand at the edge of a waterfall, and see a spider the size of my hand.

Oh yeah...and then there was the discovery of the amazing

Vol-Tan-O !

When we got on the truck (towed by a tractor and used for carting thousands of kilos of bananas), it was covered in mud. A rich, red, volcanic soil mud. And a lot of people got pretty messy. Most people looked at the muck and said "Ew!" or perhaps, "Yuck", or even "Cool!" But Mrs. McGuire? Mrs. McGuire said "Oooh, it makes a great spray-tan!"

Mrs. McGuire has been, by the way, comparing herself the entire trip to the sun. We worked on applying the "miracle tan" to Mrs. McGuire's arms, back, and face. Next we did the same thing for Laura. But Mrs. McGuire wasn't satisfied. "We should share with the entire world!"

And, with that, we had a product.

Vol-Tan-O !
"Because you're hot!"
A combination of all-natural Volcanic Enriched Powder (Alec's idea) and fresh spring water, Vol-Tan-O's amazing resluts will blow you away!

We are currently working on an array of similar products.

Goodbye Winter, Hello Summer!

Today we woke up very early to see the sun rise over Uluru. We were not very hopeful as there had been no sun at all the day before. But, once we got to the viewing point, we did indeed see the sun rise...before disappearing into the clouds again. We then got to see a watering hole and the Olga Ranges. I was very sleepy and did not really remmber any of these little stops.

Much of day was taken up by our flight to Cairns. When we got off the plane, we were greeted at the gate by a gust of face-melting heat. Being from Los Angeles, I never, ever, EVER thought I would say this about the heat but IT WAS WONDERFUL!!! It was muggy, and hot, and awful, but we LOVED IT!

This didn't last long. The moment we were all in the coach, it started to rain. But, it was HOT rain. We started to make our way to Hartley's Crocodile Adventures. But it wouldn't be a visit to Cairns if we didn't stop at the beach! We stopped at a tiny little cove and hopped into the water, which we weren't supposed to do...

At Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, we got to watch some enormous "saltwater" crocs being fed. But saltwater crocs are incorrectly named. While freshwater crocodiles, or "freshies", can only swim in fresh water, saltwater crocs can swim in both saltwater AND freshwater, making them much more dangerous. (It also doesn't help that they're a lot more aggressive!) We also got up lose and personal with a cane toad, a python, and, best of all, a koala! As it turns out, Queensland is the only state in which petting of koalas is allowed, so we were very lucky we were in this state.

We were very happy after a long day to drive to our hotel and go straight to bed. Goodnight!

Essential Programs Details

Duration 14 days
When May 25th - June 7th, 2009
Focus Marine Biology
Aboriginal Culture