Australian Sustainable Food, Environment, & Social Systems 2015

Blog site for the 2015 MSU study abroad program.

5/30 – Kenzie


The picture above shows an example of some beautiful hard coral and just how vibrant the colors can be.

Hello everyone! My name is Kenzie Devine and I cannot wait to tell you about our awesome day. Today was a lot of peoples favorite days here in Australia, because we got to go take a look at the Great Barrier Reef and see all of the exciting species everyone hears so much about. We were all very intrigued by the variety of different types of plants and animals that were available for us to observe.

Passions of Paradise Boat

A picture of the Passions of Paradise Boat just before we sailed out into the ocean.

We started off waking up at Cairns Queenslander, which is a popular hotel close to town and know for it’s surrounding natural beauty. After we woke up, we quickly loaded onto the bus to head to the ocean where we would check in for our trip we had planned for the day. The company that we went to the reef with was called Passions of Paradise. By roughly 8am our group, along with about 50 other passengers, set off on the boat. It took two hours to get to the first reef. During our time on the boat we played several games of cards and some people sat out on the front of the vessel to see the amazing view of the ocean. We were given the option to either scuba dive or snorkel at each of the two locations we would be seeing that day. A few people in our group decided on diving but the rest of us snorkeled, both had a quick class before we got to the destination. During this we would learn about safety pro cations and the limitations that we had to follow. Unfortunately, at this point of the day the weather was rainy, but in the end it turned out to be a beautiful day.

The coast of Cairns.

Quan enjoying the boat ride as we head out to our first snorkel location!

At 10:00 we arrived at Michaelmas Cay. After we got into our wet suits, fins, and goggles, we were able to set out for the water. At this area of the reef it was very shallow, so we got to see everything really up close. It was amazing to observe all the animals in their natural habitat. Instead of swimming away like you would imagine, the fish let you get so close to them it was fun to see how they all interacted. A few of the species that a lot of people enjoyed after learning about them the day before at Reef Teach were the Anemonefish (Nemo fish), the Christmas tree fish, the poisonous starfish, Rainbow fish, and of course a sea turtle. It was also interesting to see the different types of hard and soft coral. We had to be careful not to touch anything, but looking at all the different colors was beyond beautiful.

Paradise Reef

A few of the girls having fun while blowing bubbles under the water.

After spending almost two hours in the water we all came back in for lunch. They had a buffet set up inside the boat with a variety of food waiting for the line of people that had just come off the reef. There was salad, cold pastas, warm pastas, potato salad, cheese and tomatoes, and rolls. All of us sat on the front deck as we enjoyed the sun and ate our lunch.

Soon we were heading farther out to sea and on our way to our second destination, Paradise Reef. After getting there and putting our gear back on, we all jumped back into the water to see more of the Great Barrier Reef. Since it was so much deeper we were farther away from the actual coral, but there was still a lot to look at. The fish were bigger and would come close to the tops of the water. There was also a drop off at where the reef seemed to end which was awesome to swim over. It started raining for a few minutes while we were there again, but since we were in the water it did not bother us at all. After about an hour all the passengers had to stop exploring and get back into the boat.

Second destination, Paradise Reef

Going back in the water!

Second Destination, Paradise Reef

Annie, Jessica, and Courtney jumping in.

At 2:40 we began our long venture back to Cairns. Many of us sat out on the deck again though there was also a lot of things going on inside the boat. The staff members preformed a lot of really good magic tricks for the passengers. These helped to pass the time because they would engage the audience. All of the employees were very accommodating with the snacks and beverages and before we knew it we were back to the shore.

On the way back to land after a great day!

On the way back to land after a great day on the water!

The rest of the day we had as a free day. Our hotel is not far from the market or a few restaurants giving many of us the opportunity to go to dinner.

One of the really awesome things about the reef trip was they gave people the option to donate a dollar to offset the carbon footprint we made from the trip. A dollar donated means that one tree would get planted. This was a good idea because the tourism to the reefs are not very environmentally sustainable. Even though people are told not to touch the reef, people still do on accident and all the oils or products on their person can be damaging. One of the reasons it is so important to keep the reef healthy is because it connects to so many other parts of Australia, such as mangroves and the rainforest, If one of the ecosystems gets out of balance it will destroy the others as well.  The tourism is economically sustainable though since it creates jobs and brings so many people into the country. Australia makes a lot of money off people coming to see the Great Barrier Reef so it is hard to balance out which is more important.

Some more of the amazing Great Barrier Reef.

Michaelmas Cay

Another coral picture taken while snorkeling around Michaelmas Cay.

Today was a really great day for everyone and we all learned a lot. Being able to see this natural wonder of the world was an incredible experience that moved us all. Seeing something so beautiful makes people think twice before being careless to the environment.


This is the Passions of Paradise website! Here you can find a description about what they do and where they go on the reef trips. They have a great photo gallery you can look at or have booking options if anyone is interesting in booking an activity for the future.

This is the website of the hotel we stayed at that night. On the website it shows the different room options and also gives descriptions of the tours that they can help book! There is also information about the hotel and location of the hotel available here.

This is a website describing the lecture we had the day before we headed out to the reef. It explains what they do as well as explaining why it is important to learn about the reef before heading out to it.

Here is another website with information and pictures of the reef.

This website explains more about what and where the Michaelmas Cay is. It also provides some insight on the limitations they have in place to maintain the quality of the reef from the tourists.

This website provides rates and explanations for the Passions of Paradise trips to these two specific locations. It also talks about what the cool attractions commonly found in these two areas of the reef are.


One thought on “5/30 – Kenzie

  1. This day was for sure one of the highlights of my trip. You did a great explaining everything that we did. Although having the reef open to public snorkeling and scuba diving which can lead to erosion of the reef, the availability of tourism is actually a sustainable way to keep the reef protected. Having people come and visit the reef gives them the opportunity to see the reef in its natural beauty and want to preserve the way they first fell in love with it. I know that before visiting the reef, I wasn’t aware of what my actions living in Michigan could have on the reef, but after seeing how beautiful it was and knowing all the different ways my way of living impacts the reef really changed my perspective on my life. I now have a personal reason to not use aresols or anything that can cause the ozone layer to diminish more than it already has. I think that a lot of people have this connection with the reef once they see it, and if the reef wasn’t able to be seen by the public, there might not be any reef at all because not being aware of what our actions are doing to the reef could cause it to disappear. I learned a lot more than I expected to learn by just going on a snorkeling trip, but it was honestly unlike any other experience I’ve had. It is something that I will remember for ever and something that will be impacting the way I live from now on.


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