'A whale shark needs quite a lot of personal space. So if we get into the water, leave at least 3 to 4 metres between you and the animal.' What is it with people that they are so preoccupied with themselves that they just don't respect this space!? As soon as we were in the water, everybody started swimming like Ian Thorpe (we agreed during the briefing to stay in one place), creating an amount of bubbles we even don't get in our jacuzzi! A German girl with a go pro on a selfie stick pushed me away quite firmly, so that she could take the perfect picture. What is wrong with people? Why can't they enjoy the amazing experience of being in the water with this incredible creature instead of making the perfect picture for their Facebook or Insta accounts? When we came out of the water I felt quite sad...what is wrong with mankind, that we just don't seem to know anymore what it is to experience things and instead people are totally obsessed with the best picture. The world through the lens of our go pro's, smartphones and number of likes on social media.
There was an article in the newspaper on the 7 plagues of Facebook. I do believe Mark Zuckerberg had great intend wanting to create a transparant, connected community that solves the issues in today's world that way. More and more we start to understand though, that is not what is happening. Instead it is about earning a lot of money through selling data collected through facebook. And in the meantime people are addicted to the beautiful success stories you must show to the world. Even ex-important-Facebook-people admitted in the article, they wouldn't allow their own children on Facebook because of all the bad effects. Since they know how they consciously created something that is addictive, and unhealthy especially for kids, for the brain. I think I will quit Facebook again when I am back from traveling.
There was a very nice young lady on the boat when looking for the whale sharks and manta ray's. Her name was Emma and she came from Eastern Australia. A marine biologist: apparently difficult for them to get a paid job. Weird isn't it? With all the issues going on in our oceans, you would think there is enough work in this field. She decided to become a marine biologist, when her father took her diving in the Great Barrier Reef at the age of 14. I smiled a satisfied smile: we took the children to Panama last year to get their divers license. My hidden agenda was that you can't start early enough creating environmental consciousness with this generation. And her story seemed to prove it works that way. When we asked her how the Great Barrier Reef was doing (since we were at the Ningaloo Reef on the other side of the country, which is still a hidden treasure), she shared her very interesting analysis with us, so here is Emma's story:
'The biggest problem is, we still don't look at the complexity of this whole systems issue. It is not just climate change, plastic soup or overfishing. The state of the reef is influenced by much more and very worrisome. That side of the country, there are a lot of big farms, close to the sea. In order to farm, they changed the natural environment, so there is less oxygen coming from trees. Apart from that, there is polution in the air. These two have made the algae change. Because of the change of the algae, less sun is reaching the coral, which really needs sun to grow. Since the shallower coral areas are the breeding rooms for big fish, like whales and whale sharks, to have their kids, the coral is crucial for life in the ocean. So if this situation continues and gets worse...at a certain point the big fish of the oceans will not be able to propagate anymore. And you can imagine what that would mean...'
We enjoyed the space in Australia so much. It was liberating, inspiring, refreshing and energizing, all at the same time. There are not many places anymore in the world, where you can drive for hours through nature without seeing another soul, your thoughts able to just wander around. It is so freeing and we felt very grateful. We were incredibly lucky, that we not only saw whale sharks and manta rays. While wild camping, we also saw a pair of fish eagles hunting, a school of dolphins migrating through a bay and, two rare Australian sea lions and, as icing on the cake, our last morning, we saw two dolphins playing just 20 metres in front of us while having our breakfast. Wow...it is hard to describe how we felt. We were in awe and we felt a call for action...