A trip to paradise
Earlier this month I had my first field trip with JCU to Orpheus Island Research Station. Its located only about 2 hours north of Townsville and yet feels like another world. The field trip was for a Sampling and Experiment Design subject created for masters students to better understand the design of research projects and the statistics that come with it.
My first experience with the GBR
We spent 4 days on this island, where toilets are compostable and the water is from the rain. When approaching the island by boat, it looked like something out of Jurassic Park, so green and lush. After unloading our belongings, an intro to the island and lunch, our trip started with some field work snorkeling on the reef. Since the island is located along the Great Barrier Reef, I finally was able to experience the beauty of the reef first hand.
The corals and wildlife were incredible and made focusing on our project extremely hard. I was able to see a huge Cowtail Ray, a colorful nudibranch (think slug), some giant clams, beautiful fish and amazing corals! Luckily the beauty and my curiosity made up for the freezing water! Which was much colder than I had anticipated for tropical Queensland.
Part of the class is to work on an independent project with a small group. The project my group was doing was looking at limpets along the rocky shore. Let me tell ya, it was tedious work. Some of the limpets were so small they would blend into the rocks or oysters, making it even more difficult to count them. Although it often felt monotonous, my group made it enjoyable. One of my favorite parts of the field trip was encountering baby blacktip reef sharks swimming so close to us, talk about the best kind of distraction.
The weather was much chillier then I had expected. I mean everyone said it would be cold but I didn’t believe them with how cold it actually was. I know it’s winter but I didn’t think it would be cold enough to wear pants and sweaters, the lack of sun wasn’t helpful either. Our last night, however, surprised us with a beautiful sunset. Our entire class went out along the flat during the low tide to enjoy the evening. The night continued to get better with one of the most amazing views of stars, including the milky way. To top it all off, I got to see bioluminescent algae in the water! It was the perfect ending to our field trip. I can’t wait to go back to Orpheus!