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An expanse of white corals

Cairns, Queensland, Australia - August 2016

I am diving into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, I am off the coast of Queensland, in North-Eastern Australia. I am very excited, I am about to explore that coral reef, discovered in 'Finding Nemo', that I have always dreamed of.

The Great Barrier Reef, the largest in the world, was discovered by James Cook, one of the greatest explorers, during his first voyage in search of Terra Australis.

'Wall of coral rock, rising perpendicularly from the unfathomable depths of the ocean' James Cook, Logbook of the Endeavour, 1770

Mask, snorkel, fins and wetsuit: I am ready. It is August, during the austral winter, the ocean water is very cold. I dive in and find myself in front of an expanse of white corals. I am a bit amazed, why is it all white? It is not exactly as I have always imagined it, but I am still extremely happy. The abundance of colourful fish of a thousand shapes and sizes, sea turtles and other living creatures, which I cannot define, leave me spellbound and colour the whole environment around them. Here I saw my first little shark.

It is 2016, one of the worst years for this incredible marine ecosystem. Climate change is increasing ocean temperatures and this is the corals' response: they are bleaching. It is said that 90% of the Great Barrier Reef experienced several episodes of this phenomenon during that year. The famous 'death' of the reef.

There is one piece of good news, however, that between 2020 and 2022, the coral-covered area grew, regaining, in part, its balance. So there is a little hope!

I swim, I swim all afternoon. I have my first gopro with me, I'm not very good but I still try to capture everything that moves in front of my eyes.

It is my first trip alone, on the other side of the world.

I am in the company of two German girls, whom I have just met, who are also travelling to the land of kangaroos. They have invited me to their hostel for dinner.

It is sunset time and time to return to Cairns. We sit on the boat that brought us all the way there, among fish and coral, tired and a little burnt, and admire the spectacle before us: it is incredible how the coral reef can be seen from above.

So we leave this unlikely place, which as a final farewell gives us a whale tail sticking out of the water of the immense Pacific Ocean.

The Australian Great Barrier Reef is a place of the heart to which I will return sooner or later.

Australian Great Barrier Reef
The Barrier Reef from above
The Australian Great Barrier Reef
An expanse of white corals
Australian Great Barrier Reef
Colourful fish and white corals
The Australian Great Barrier Reef
Colourful fish and white corals'
Sbiancamento dei coralli
White corals
The Great Barrier Reef
The Australian Great Barrier Reef
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