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A Day On Australia's Great Barrier Reef (V).

By Douglas Sassman.

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I dive straight down into a wide fissure in the reef, walls of coral tower above me as I swim the length of the gap. The portentous feeling above is lost down here, the cyclone of the century could rage above, but down here the fiddler crabs would still fiddle and flounder would still, well, do the things flounders normally do. I rise to the surface, clear the water in my snorkel, and as I begin a great intake of breath a swell overtakes me sending a liter of saltwater down my snorkel. I rip the mask off and sputter, hack, and wheeze my way back to the platform, my diving for the day, done.

Lunch is served back on the vessel in a cruise ship like fashion. The food line is sparse, however the pickings many, salad bowls of shrimp, a tidal wave of fruit and veges, and a carpet of salmon. Iím aware that everything I eat could make a reappearance on the way home, but Iím powerless to stop myself. Somehow eating seafood while on the sea seems less troublesome.

After lunch my wife is feeling confident and takes a dip in the water, then we loiter around the platform, out of the weather, waiting to leave until finally the loudspeaker tells us to do just that.

We load back onto the boat and leave the tipsy platform behind. The seas have become such that the same old sea dog I mentioned earlier would now be in the wheelhouse, hands on the wheel, mumbling to himself. My daughter must think the world is a rocking chair; she falls fast asleep once more on my chest.

Itís Victory at Sea outside the window; the rain rides the wind and hurls itself against the boat. I donít move, I wedge my knees against the table and try not and think about the salmon bisque I had for lunch.

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