Paul Hansford donned his Speedos to[snorkel] on the Great Barrier Reef. By the end, he thought the expereince was “life-altering”. That was after he puked up though.

I’m not a big fan of the water. I like to adhere to the Billy Connolly school of thought that says humans aren’t meant to be in the water. They have their world and we have ours and when we intrude bad things can happen.

Like shark bites – now you’d be pissed off if you got bitten by a shark walking down the street to Tescos and rightly so because sharks aren’t meant to walk down high streets.

But you’re asking for it by going diving or swimming in their world.

Well said, Billy.


Having said all that, the lure of the[Great Barrier Reef] is very compelling and a once in a lifetime experience that I wasn’t going to miss.

So I strapped on the chainmail speedos (or ‘budgie smugglers’, as Aussie prefer) and went for quick look around.

The ride is choppy to say the least, so it’s advisable that even if you are just going snorkelling that you take it easy the night before –
not the easiest thing to do in[Cairns].

After about an hour on the ocean wave, we get to the reef, and after the divers get themselves into the water, it’s the turn of the snorkellers to get in.

Totally, like, sick

The water was pretty calm but the motion was still getting to me as I swam away from the boat.

I was trying to see my first fish, when the uncontrollable urge to puke rolled over me. And it was at that moment I came across the sure-fire way to see the Barrier Reef’s marine life up close and personal.

Almost immediately after emptying my guts into the South Pacific Ocean, around 100 different types of tropical fish came steaming towards me for chow time.

Granted it wasn’t the most orthodox way of seeing the multi-coloured residents of the reef, but I had the chance to see a lot of fishes I would’ve missed otherwise.

Overall, it had to rank up there as one of my most satisfying chunders ever.

Sea legs

After grasping my sea legs, I ventured out into the beautiful watery netherworld, seeing things I’d never imagined.

The coral on it’s own is an amazing mixture of vibrant colours, and combined with the beautiful sealife and clear water gives the whole reef
a serene atmosphere.

The best thing about snorkelling the reef is that you can take it at your own pace.

Just lie in the water, rocking back and forth with the seaweed, and take in all the ocean life that swims past. Or go off on a swimming adventure, trying to chase the pretty fishies.

Either way, the experience is life-altering.

I’d love to be able to tell you what type of fishes I saw, but I’m terrible with things like that.

There were big ones, flat ones, brown ones, blue ones, ugly ones, beady-eyed ones… I even saw a turtle, just hanging out, watching us.

In the end, knowing the details doesn’t matter – knowing you’ve had the time of your life makes up for it.

Did you Know

It is greater in area than the entire UK.

At 2,000km long, it is also the largest structure made by living organisms.

At its widest, the reef is 80km wide; at its furthest out it is 300km from the mainland coast, and at its tallest it’s more than 500m thick, and its oldest parts have been growing there for 18 million years.

That’s really, really big and old.

Some coral stings can be felt by human skin, so it’s best not to touch. Also, coral is very delicate and can be killed by clumsy limbs.

The best time to see coral is at night, because this is when they reach out from their skeletons to feed.

The colour from coral actually comes from tiny algae that co-habits with
the polyps in the colony.

Although the Great Barrier Reef is counted as one reef, it is actually composed of nearly 3,000 seperate reefs, clumped close together.

Overfishing and prawn trawling in particular, are destroying reef ecosystems. Chemical pollutants, which all end up in the ocean sooner or later, are poisoning the reef.

The most significant threat to the reef is climate change. Mass coral bleaching events, due to rising ocean temperatures, occurred in the summers of 1998, 2002 and 2006, and some believe coral bleaching will become an annual occurrence.

Big sharks are extremely rare on the Great Barrier Reef; they prefer very deep water.