“Mum, mum”, yelled at least 200 of my and my daughters children, “there is another of those strange things arriving. We think it is a boat.”
“Oh no, it is not a good day to arrive for visitors”, I thought and told the kids “quickly, lets hide in the deep valley behind the Castle of Coral Garden just in case”.
After all, we have heard of boats and men causing havoc and death on a big scale. Usually though we get frequented by those strange double skinned big black fish with extremely strange eyes and very peculiar breathing called men.
While the gusty winds above the water are wild and easy a 30 knot, north-westerly of course, causing the swell to pound dangerously through the channel around our south-east corner, which really is the only entrance into the shelter of our lagoon, the boat made its way to safety. Sure enough some of those swimmers showed up soon to descend to our kingdom.
Teleosty, the bravest of our sea horses who thinks men can hear him is already approaching the group to show them around and tell them all about our marvels, treasures and jewels. “Welcome to Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea, an area of 780’000 square km”, he starts, “we are the most southern part of the Barrier Reef – although we are very different – off Australia.”
The divers don’t pay any attention to Teleosty as usual. They soon mingle amongst the dreaded sharks.
But Teleosty continues nevertheless: “Our beautiful home is a submerged atoll, about 25 km long and 11 km across, has steep walls and abysses of a kilometer or more and our reef slopes can start about 25 km under water.”
His audience seems to enjoy themselves and do a lot of photography. I don’t think though they can hear Teleosty who continues anyway: “A coral reef is a living community with a very diverse ecosystem. Here amongst the most beautiful corals and sea anemones we have fungi, sponges, sea slugs, oysters, clams, crabs, sea worms, shrimps, sea urchins, jelly fish, oh, such a variety of different fish from small to big and of course seahorses like myself.”
Maybe the swimming men do hear him sometimes. Then they do point their cameras towards our habitat and the many schools of our colourful cousins swim parade in front of them.
I have been out there and had my picture taken. It was fun!
But every now and then bad things happen. Some of them can’t swim very good or are clumsy with their strange instruments and break parts of our reef. Teleosty gets very upset in those circumstances – he once said he is sure some break corals on purpose and take them up to their boats – and he raises his voice: “Don’t do that! We are millions of years old and our reef grows very very slowly. Please, don’t do that!”
Teleosty is at his best though when our visitors are calm and he talks about places to go and see like Silver City, the giant Grouper and of course Cod Hole. To the best he recommends to dive the Ribbon Reefs 9 and 10.
He also always tells them to watch out for the deep ocean predators in our system. Unlike the Barrier Reef we have underwater mountains that seem to come out of the surface from deep deep very dark frightening water which are home to bizarre creatures.
The light from above is fading, and the strangers are leaving now. All returns to typical and Teleosty goes and nibbles on seaweed as do we before turning in for the night.
images:: divephotoguide.com; aboutaustraliadiving.com; about-australia.com; spiritoffreedom.com.au; customercommunity.com.au; best-diving.org; australianmuseum.net.au; divephotoguide.com; wikipedia.com; telegraph.co.uk; imgfave.com.