The world’s largest reef, visible from space, is a massive conglomerate of coral, sea creatures, polyps and shades of blue spread out gracefully over several islands.
To see it itself is a privilege, and to snorkel it, a thrill of a lifetime.
The Great Barrier Reef’s popular access spot is Hamilton Island, one of the 74 Whitsunday Islands at the reef’s heart. These islands, created by volcanic activity millions of years ago, were home to the Ngaro people.
I access Norman reef from the city of Cairns, which is another way to approach the largest living thing on Earth. After an hour-long ferry ride, our captain anchors a thick rope to the reef’s sandy bed, allowing us snorkelers to spread our fins over the large expanse of water, which –to the naked eye—seems to conceal nothing beneath.
Once my eye adjusts to the balmy water, I see fronds of elephant ear, iridescent blue bulbs of leather coral, a brownish-flat kind that spreads out infinitely, and schools of silvery fish.
A young Australian, Callum, takes us on a glass-bottom boat tour of the reef, explaining how the PH levels of the ocean are affected by global warming. I soak everything in, including the hardy Australian summer sun, which is almost blinding. It is 90 degrees.
The reef’s landscape is mountainous, with deep troughs mingling with various shades of blue and sun-flooded corners.
Here, finally, a feeling that everything oceanic is ribbony and dynamic, with a truly poetic, calcified beauty.