Diving in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

After completing my bachelor’s degree, I decided to take a gap year, and with some planning, I have fulfilled my lifelong dream – travelling to Australia! And I knew, for certain, that I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see the Great Barrier Reef with my own eyes.

My adventure began in Cairns, a vibrant city facing the Coral Sea in Far North Queensland. The city is not that big, but it buzzes with energy, and it’s easy to see why so many backpackers end up here.

From Cairns, I joined a day expedition with a catamaran. We wasted no time and braved the choppy waters to reach our first dive site on the GBR. Each dive was preceded by a briefing led by the divemasters, with detailed descriptions of the site and suggestions for specific flora and fauna to keep an eye out for.

The moment I got in the water, I was utterly speechless. This was my first time seeing a coral reef, and it didn’t disappoint. One of the most striking things about the Great Barrier Reef is the diversity of colourful marine life. During my dives, I encountered clownfish peeking out from anemones, parrotfish, a school of barracudas and even a whitetip reef shark chilling on the sandy seabed. However, with the wonder, I also felt a sense of urgency. Coral bleaching poses a significant threat to the Great Barrier Reef. The reefs that we visited were healthy, but occasional patches of pale coral stood in contrast to the vibrant reef around them.

”The moment I got in the water, I was utterly speechless. This was my first time seeing a coral reef, and it didn’t disappoint.”

Tourism itself is one of the greatest threats to the GBR – with over 2 million visitors each year eager to get up close and personal, it would be easy to exploit this fragile ecosystem and choose profits over preservation. Because of this, the reefs require careful management by the local authorities, especially intensively used sites – with codes of practice and permits.

For me, this trip was incredibly fun and a reminder of the importance of responsible tourism and conservation efforts. Seeing the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef was a dream come true, reinforcing my commitment to the protection of our underwater world. Leaving Australia, I felt inspired and more passionate than ever about a career in conservation and restoration. I am excited to contribute to preserving marine vital ecosystems!

I hope that one day I’ll get the opportunity to dive into the Great Barrier Reef again, maybe to do some research (who knows!). I really recommend if you’ll ever get the chance, seeing it yourself while visiting the “Land Down Under”!

– Alessia Favretto

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