Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 46 - Gregory's Luggage Arrives

I estimate that a combined total of 8,752 phone calls were made by myself, our travel managers, DSA representatives, and others in an attempt to track down Gregory's suitcase. Here are the highlights of the luggage saga:
Day 1 - six members of our party arrive in New Zealand without luggage
Day 4 - four people (Grace, Ashley S., Colin, and Jeff) receive luggage
Day 5 - Ian receives his luggage (Gregory's luggage is no where to be found)
Day 16 - Just after our return home a baggage handler at LAX spots Gregory's luggage - he promises to Fed-X it to Greg's home in Chevy Chase, Maryland
Day 44 - A representative from Quantas calls to say the bag has been found in Sydney. They promise to send it to a DC area airport.
Day 46 - The bag arrives at Baltimore Washington International Airport with all its contents in good shape.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef

What a day we had!! Let’s set the scene… perfect weather, calm seas, thousands of fish just waiting for us to come and explore their world!

It took us about 2.5 hours to get to the Great Barrier Reef by boat; on the way out we were lucky enough to see whales on their annual migration. Once we arrived we all suited up with wetsuits, fins, masks and snorkels then it was straight off the boat and into the amazing blue water below!

We became the eyes and ears of the marine biologists and were given water proof pens and paper to take some surveys of exactly what we were seeing. Giant Clams, soft and hard corals, sea cucumbers and fish –every color of the rainbow. Some of the group have an amazing story of seeing one of the most feared creatures a white tip reef shark!

Coming back on board everyone had theirs own story of adventure and tales to tell. All agreed that is was “one of the best days of the entire trip”.
Those that didn’t have enough water time today, got to enjoy the hotels beautiful lagoon style pool after dinner.

Travel Manager – Natalie.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sharks Anyone

After a 5:45 wakeup call and a quick breakfast we jumped aboard a boat and set forth to the coral sea. During the 2-1/2 hour journey to Lodestone reef we saw at least four humpback whales. One was kind enough to breech within 30 meters of our boat.

As we approached the reef the waters turned a bright turquoise color. We anchored right next to a series of large "bomies" which are great big mounds of coral. We suited up in our wetsuits, put on our flippers and masks, and walked the plank. After 2 hours of amazing snorkeling amongst some of the most beautiful coral and fish in the world we hauled ourselves back on board for lunch.

After lunch the marine biologists from reef hq instructed us on how to perform a reef health assessment. Using underwater paper and grease pencils we tall eyed all of the types of coral, fish, predators, and signs of coral distress such as bleaching. During our ten minute timed underwater observation a white finned reef shark paid us a visit. Many arguments as to the sharks true length would happen later (my guess has it at about 8 feet) but it was undoubtably the most gracefully swimming creature I have ever seen.

After the reef assessments Greg decided it was time to leap off the top level of our boat into the water (about the height of the reef shark). Everyone soon followed suit, even the adults.

Jeff and Katrina

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Aquariums, cockatoos, and koalas - oh my!

Lets just say wow! We woke up inside the aquarium and heard lots of interesting facts about what we will see on the reef!

Then a ferry escorted us over to the Magic Magnetic Island, where we got to hold a cockatoo and see Lizards amongst other wildlife. We then became wildlife ourselves when the beach at horseshoe bay became too tempting and everyone ended up in the water!

It was then time for a hike up to the highest point on the Island to the military bunkers and one of the star attractions made an appearance – a wild koala and her Joey!!

Tomorrow is another action packed day as we (don’t wan to make you jealous) snorkel the Great Barrier Reef! Stunning weather ordered just for us! Stay posted.

Travel Manager – Natalie Costa.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

G'day from Down Under

Well it’s been go, go, go since touchdown! Starting off getting spooked in one of the oldest areas in Australia, The Rocks.

We have been sailing on the magnificent Sydney Harbour, eating at some lovely restaurants in Darling Harbour – where we had the opportunity to try…wait for it…Kangaroo!!!

Our walking shoes also took us exploring inside the great marvel – the Sydney Opera House. Only this morning we said ‘goodbye’ to Sydney and ‘hello’ to the wonderful sunny Townsville.

Holding and getting up close to Koalas, Crocs, snakes and hand feeding kangaroos was on today’s schedule before heading to Reef HQ, the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium where we will spend the night sleeping with fish!

All in all it’s a blast so far with lots more installed.

Travel Manager - Natalie Costa

Ps.. all the students send their love back home to family

Friday, July 15, 2011

Building a Snowcave 101

The first step is to place an innertube in the snow where you plan to build your cave, and then cover it with a tarp and spread it out. After that, just pile on the snow and make sure it's packed in extremely tight. Once you cover the tube, you start piling on snow to build up the edges. Then, you can start excavating the inside through multiple doors, but once the tube is out you need to seal up the other doors. Once you have a ceiling, you can start leveling the floor so you have a nice pallet to sleep on. And those are the basic instructions you need to build your own snow cave!

I had so much fun building the snow cave. My favorite part was packing the snow on top of the tube. My method of choice was to belly flop on the pile whilst making karate noises. The karate noises created a whole new me.

Hannah N.

Adventure Details

Duration 16 days
Destinations South Island, NZ
Great Barrier Reef
Focus Ecology/Conservation
Coral, Coastal, and Alpine Ecosystems