Saturday, April 24, 2010

What a wild month!

So I know it's been about a month since my last post, I am very sorry! So here is all the catch-up from the past month, and it's all very cool, I promise.

So first, I spent a week in the beautiful Fraser Island. It was one of the most amazing places I have been, it was gorgeous. It is the worlds largest sand island, so it's just a whole lot of sand...everywhere.... in everything.. all the time. you can't get away from it, but it's worth it. The wonderful thing about the island is all it's beautiful lakes, mangroves, and rainforests. Because the lakes are all aoliean lakes (wind formed), they are all filled by rain, so they are crystal clear and absolutely pristine. Imagine the most intense color of torquoise you have ever seen, and that's the color of these lakes. You can see for miles underwater too, without goggles or a mask or anything. Visibility is at least 200 m underwater. Too bad there are no fish or coral reefs in these lakes ha ha.

I got to witness some of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life there. I love being a naturalist and being able to notice all the little things about life and nature. It makes the outdoors so much cooler. Hiking up to one of the lakes, all of a sudden everyone started crowding around and looking down and such. I came over and looked, and it looked like they were just staring at a vine on the ground or a piece of string or something. When I looked closer I noticed it was a trail of caterpillars! Never before have I ever seen anything like it! They were all crawling in a line, following each other. They also seemed to be connected, like they were holding on to each other. It was beautiful. I have no idea why they were doing that, it seemed like they were migrating or something, yet I've never heard of caterpillars doing it. I felt privileged to see it. Also, I have never seen a real tropical rainforest. There is a sub-tropical rainforest on the island, and it is beautiful, all green and lush, with leaves the size of your body, a crystal clear stream running through it, it was amazing. In this particular rainforest is an extremely rare plant, the king fern. And when I say king, I mean king, I'm talking a 12 ft tall fern. I LOVE ferns, i think they are gorgeous plants, so a 12 ft one nearly made me pass out I found it so lovely.

Later in the week, I was out on the jetty doing some snorkeling through all the wood posts just looking at all the barnacles and bait fish and such (yes I saw a giant ball of bait fish, it was gorgeous). There were some fisherman off the jetty and I noticed they were all pointing and such, and it was two dugongs (souther hemisphere equivalent to manatees)! So I just stuck in the water, and snorkeled with them! I mean, yes there were about 30 m. away, but I still felt like they were close because they are very very shy animals, and not to mention rare. I don't know why all these beautiful animals keep finding me, but I feel so lucky. The Lord just really knows how to make me happy.

The ultimate sight I saw there was on the ferry ride back to the mainland. I was sitting on the top deck, just listening to my ipod, not really thinking anything at all. All of sudden, I just had the thought to go to the back of the ferry, so I made my way down the stairs, and just sat, looking at the wake behind us. It was about 7 am, so the world still felt quiet to me. Then, out in front of me, a familiar sight popped up, dolphins! But when they surfaced, I automatically knew that they were not bottlenose dolphins, they were indo pacific humpback dolphins (or sousa dolphins to the marine community). These are an estuarine dolphin (found in freshwater as well) and they are shy, rare dolphins. Not very many people see them, they are a smaller dolphin and tend to occur in smaller pod sizes as well. When I saw them, I nearly fell off the back of the ferry. I literally had a small seizure and turned around to tell someone, but being on the back of the ferry, no one was anywhere near around. That was probably a good thing, because I would have scared them with my ultimate nerdy-ness (or passion) for these animals. My heart and soul felt so happy after seeing them, It was just so incredible. They followed our wake for a little while, then split off to probably go for a morning feed. I have loved these dolphins forever. I still remember the first legit dolphin and whale book my mother bought me, and that's where I first saw a picture of sousa, and I wanted to see them from that day on. I wore that book to pieces I have read it so many times (just one more reason why I owe so much to my mother, she encouraged my passion for sea life).

Also on this trip, I had some time to really think about the things I want in my life, and when i want them to happen. I was in a quite place, no technology, no drunken parties, I felt like it was just me and nature, so I really got to do some thinking. It was much needed, and much appreciated to have that time. There were some pretty big ideas pressing in on my mind, so the introspection came at the right time. I do know that Australia is the place for me. I love it here. It keeps getting better and better and it seems like I am getting more and more signs to stay here (dugongs and sousas). I am so happy I came, I am so happy I spent the long hard hours working to get here. If there is a goal you want people, I know you will feel so much more satisfied with your life if you achieve them. Never give up.

Other than fraser island, I've just been doing a lot of uni work, literature reviews, rock lobster reports, sea grass reports etc etc but it's been all good. Dolphin research starts back up in Byron this week, so it will be so nice to spend my mornings free at the lighthouse watching my marine friends.