Blue skies, calm azure seas, tucked into a life vest on a ship with eight hot guys… was I wrong to wish for a shipwreck?
And I’m not talking about a singles cruise, or a fishing trip with the boys. I had signed on for a couple of months as research assistant tagging turtles along the Far North Queensland coast on weekends, monitoring their migration patterns and population dispersal. Just shy of completing my Marine Biology degree, of which I was completely in awe of, having grown up in the CentralianDesert, so every attempt was given to volunteer for assisting the PhD students in their practical studies. I managed to participate in many, but this was, by far, my favourite.
Not only was there great eye candy, I could lavish in the warm coastal currents, scuba dive, and have said cuties help slather on yet another layer of sunscreen. The hard part – long hours, (about 22 hours on the vessel) and having to baby sit a couple of the lads with motion sickness (albeit brought on by the previous nights drinking game). We would catch and release continuously through the night as well, and what little sleep I did manage, was disturbed by farts, burps, coughs and groans of the men resting soundly: I had many thoughts of dropping them overboard just for some peace and quiet.
We found an alarming number of turtles garnished with plastic rubbish and a lurking Great White (maybe it was following the trail of vomit behind the boat?) There was also evidence of silt killing off a part of the coral and seagrass beds, kicked up from the shipping lane. However the rest of the journey was filled with pristine waters and its coulourful inhabitants. It certainly raised my awareness in how our garbage is disposed and recycled, and the importance of environmental impact studies on industry.
It was a fantastic experience diving in waters with great visibility and contributing to a cause bigger than yourself. Meeting a group of socially aware and intelligent young men and actually having a constructive conversation without any awkwardness or need for a drink in one hand. I must have snapped at least 10 rolls of film (no digital
camera back then) of the gorgeous ocean, above and below the waterline… and the hunky shipmates. So what started as a chance to hitch on a trawler and dive on reefs around our fair town for free on the weekends, and enhance my education, turned into an exercise in a global consciousness. I think I’ll trade in Gilligan’s Island for Captain Planet any day!
Save the turtles! Save our Oceans!
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