During this past spring semester, I studied abroad at James Cook University, located in a city called Townsville on the tropical northeastern coast of Queensland, Australia. As a marine biology major, I went abroad to JCU to learn about tropical marine ecosystems and get first hand experience studying and diving the Great Barrier Reef. I chose classes such as Evolution and Ecology of Reef Fishes, Life History and Evolution of Reef Corals, and Functional Biology of Marine Organisms. All of my courses included a large amount of field time, and I was lucky enough to travel twice to Orpheus Island Research Station, an island in the central GBR equipped with laboratory research facilities and access to the reef immediately offshore. While on Orpheus, my classmates and I were able to dive and snorkel in order to directly observe and survey reef fishes and corals. Beyond my classes, I continued to explore Australia throughout the semester. I made it south to Sydney and Melbourne, as north as Cairns, and of course out east to the most incredible dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef. It was incredible having the opportunity to take full advantage of being abroad in Australia- every weekend I was experiencing yet another beautiful place while during the week I was studying subjects that genuinely interest and excite me. The semester flew by faster than I could have imagined and while it is hard to believe that I left Australia almost a month ago, I have a feeling that I will be back again someday. You can read more about my aussie experience on my blog: http://toaustraliaandbeyond.blogspot.com.au/
Nets to keep out the jellyfish on the beaches in Townsville, with Magnetic Island in the distance.
Crystal creek, an hour’s drive from Townsville.
Mangroves on the beach of Orpheus Island.
Sunset and low tide on Orpheus.
Rock climbing on Mt. Stuart, which overlooks JCU and the Townsville coastline.
Making fish friends scuba diving in the GBR off the coast of Cairns, 5 hours north of Townsville.
Beautiful waterfalls in the Atherton Tableland.
Wallabies were a daily sight around campus.
Sunset over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.