The Coral Sea – Gladstone to Thursday Island

After a long stretch of downwind sailing North, we stopped at Lizard Island in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef where we could do some hiking and snorkeling.

We first hiked out to a research station on the far side of the island where we met Erin and Hugo. Erin was kind enough to take some time out of her busy day to talk to us about her research with mantis shrimp and octopuses. Mantis shrimp are fascinating little creatures that can see colors well beyond the spectrum of the human eye. Erin was trying to determine which colors the mantis shrimp preferred. If you’re into podcasts (and if you have an hour to kill) the Radiolab Podcast on Mantis Shrimp is well worth a listen.

Hugo was studying sand (really “sediment” because there are shells too). Apparently when the ocean’s temperature rises enough, the symbiotic algae on corals undergo a stress response that causes the coral to evict the algae. They are finding that this algae is migrating into the individual sand grains only to reemerge later when (if) the coral is healthy again. Thank you Erin and Hugo for your insights into the ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef!

After hiking back to the harbor, we were able to see some of these corals and algae first hand. The Great Barrier Reef. Seeing the great barrier reef while it still exists still lives beyond the hype. Large coral packed with a diverse ecosystem, giant oysters bigger than a man. Here we found a renewed reverence for the sea and its complex residents, all working together as one of the largest ecological systems on our wonderful planet.

Video game deletion pact complete. We finally went through with deleting video games off of our smartphones. Now we can get back to less ego driven, more fulfilling activities.

With favorable wind and currents, we made it to Thursday Island in record time. Next leg: Darwin!