2011 Spring Australia Erin Shetron External Programs

Moreton Bay

This weekend, some fellow Americans and I took a trip with our IFSA-Butler group to Moreton Bay. I had been looking forward to this day for weeks. All the pictures from Google had confirmed that this adventure was truly going to be one of the most exciting, beautiful days of our stay here in Oz. The pictures showed white beaches, clear water, and non-threatening, man-made ship wrecks just off the coast around which we’d be snorkeling. Perfection.

The day’s events turned out a little different from I’d expected. My image of snorkeling had come from the experience I’d had in Cancun when I was in 8th grade. We were taken by boat out onto the clear, shallow water. We lowered ourselves into the water from the back of the boat, swam around, went “ooo” and “aahh” at the brightly colored fishies, swam back to the boat, and called it a day. Cake.

This snorkeling experience was not at all like that. A group of us plunged into the bay, tested our flippers, goggles, and snorkels, and were then guided out to the half-sunken boats. About half way out, I started to get nervous. First of all, I forgot that hearing yourself trying to breathe through a tube under water can sound like more of a struggle than it actually is, and it’s creepy. Second of all, the water was deep. And it was dark. And I couldn’t see more than a foot in front of me when I lowered my head into the water, but that was the most comfortable way to swim. Third of all, when we finally made it out to the ships, I not only cut my finger on one of the ships, but it was also “that time of the month” for me.

Why did I just share that? Well, the point is that just after cutting my finger, as we were flippering around, we found out there was a shark in the water. A SHARK. There I was, already wanting to make a b-line for the shore, bleeding out of my finger and who knows where else, and there was a shark in the water. I held up my finger for the guide to see. “Eh, just keep that hand out of the water, you’ll be alright! These sharks won’t eat ya, they’ll just bite ya!”

…WHAT? If I haven’t already admitted to crying in this blog, I’ll do it now. I started to whimper like a baby. Of course, once the guides saw me genuinely start to panic, they stopped joking around (for the most part) and assured me I’d be just fine. One of them even promised me a band-aid for my finger once we got ashore.

Obviously, I made it back to the beach in one piece. No, I didn’t ever see the shark (I didn’t even look in the water after that), but yes, I did see some cool fish- mostly little yellow ones. After snorkeling we ate Subway sandwiches on the beach, found a starfish while swimming (this time only where I could touch the bottom), and went sand-boarding in what Moreton Island has named “The Desert.

For those who don’t know, sand boarding is when you get what looks like a skateboard without trucks or wheels, wax the bottom of it, lay on your belly, and go careening down an enormous and steep hill of sand. It. Is. AWESOME. And, if you lay on the board just right, you don’t even get sand in your face! There were lots of people and only so many boards, and the walk back up the sand dune was just short of impossible, so I only ended up going once. Still, it was the highlight of the day. The hill we sand-boarded down is in the picture, the one to the right that is behind the first stretch of sand but in front of the far line of trees.

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