Snorkeling does not rank high of my list of favorite vacation activities. I much prefer spending time on the ocean, as opposed to in the ocean. The sea is unpredictable and can be very unforgiving. I do not like the prospect of being touched, nibbled, stung or bit by any of the lurking marine life. Kevin has tried to reassure me multiple times that the fish have no interest in making contact with me. However, that cannot be 100% true. We have all witnessed the fish pedicure where fish nibble the dry skin off people’s feet. As a result, I cannot help but flinch any time I see a fish swimming at me.
As outlined in my post on The Great Barrier Reef, a trip to the outer reef is a must do. Even though I agreed to snorkel, it didn’t mean that I was overly excited about the adventure—especially since it was “jelly season.” As a precautionary measure, we were covered head to toe in lycra “stinger suits.” These suits provide protection from the venomous stings of the tiny and nearly invisible Irakandji jellyfish that are prevalent between November and June. Their stings can be deadly so the sight of any jellyfish can be terrifying—even if it’s not a dangerous one.
Before entering the water at the Opal Reef, our skipper tried to ease our minds about the likely encounters with moon jellies (aka: Aurelia Aurita). He told us we’d likely encounter them during our swim but that they would not harm us. He encouraged us to just swat them away. I did not particularly like the sound of this and decided to ease into the water with caution. I no more than stuck my face in the water before I was confronted by a moon jellyfish!
I lifted my face out of the water and let out a short shriek. I took a few deep breaths and attempted to carry on. It felt like everywhere I looked there were jellies. I was contemplating getting back on the boat and could have justified it knowing I gave it a go. But this was the Great Barrier Reef. So I muscled up the nerve to continue and decided to fight back!
The jellies appeared to travel in packs and seemed to enjoy sneaking up on me. They definitely did not follow my laws of nature, and many made contact. So, I decided to throw a few jabs back and found it to be quite effective. I would take a few deep breaths, use a breast stroke movement with my arms and swat away any attackers. If that did not work then I would throw a series of jabs at any jellyfish that headed my way. It worked! I was avoiding direct contact with all of these pesky creatures.
Although snorkeling may not be my favorite thing to do, it definitely has been one of the highlights of our time in Australia. I could have easily missed out on an incredible experience, just because the environment was not perfect. I am glad I faced my fears and was able to enjoy some of the most stunning coral and underwater life that Australia has to offer.