Whitsunday Islands

Recently, 15 other TEAN girls and I lived a weekend of the diva life on a catamaran in the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, it was as fantastic as it sounds. On board Wings III, we spent our days jet-setting around the Whitsunday Islands with a stop-off on the world’s 3rd most beautiful beach – Whitehaven.

But we weren’t just observers, oh no. We wasted no time jumping right in, becoming one with the Great Barrier Reef. My mind was blown at how truly immersed we were in the reef and its ecosystem; able to see firsthand what it’s like, unnoticed, as if we were a barnacle on a rock (underwater version of ‘fly on the wall’). And I realized that if I ever wanted to become one of these fish, there are only 5 simple steps I would have to follow:

1. Be beautiful

It probably goes without saying, but the fish in the Great Barrier Reef are incredibly stunning. But not just what pretty colors! kind of stunning. Stunning, like, how is that even possible? stunning. I swear, some of them had electricity pumping through their scales, lighting them up with a fluorescent Christmas tree glow. So you have the first step: take breathes away. Be beautiful.

2. Be fearless

It doesn’t matter if you’re a big guy, little baby, or anything in between. You should fear next to nothing. This includes humans in their embarrassingly horrifying wet suits with their GoPro’s on a stick in your face (take it as a compliment. Remember: you’re beautiful!) You’re going to come across some pretty crazy things as a Great Barrier Reef fish and it’s important to keep your game face on. If you have trouble doing this, follow the lead of the dude 2 inches long who tried to bite my nose off.

Great Barrier Reef

3. Like other fish

You will never be alone as a fish in the Great Barrier Reef. Learn to coexist. Your school and the school next to you may be rivals, but chances are you’re about to directly cross paths. Go with the flow! It creates a beautiful, dancing whirlwind of colors, anyway. Hint: swim directly through people, too. It freaks them out and it’s hilarious.

4. Have a special talent

Don’t stress! It’s something you were already born with. Maybe, like the Lionfish, you have mane-like tentacles that can kill a man in 5 minutes with just one touch. Or, less morbidly, you have phenomenal acting talents like the cast of Finding Nemo, which was almost entirely spotted while we were there. Perhaps, still, you’re just really good at living a long time like the Maori Wrasse and sea turtles. They’re huge so you should have no trouble finding friends with that in common. Whatever it may be, if you have something cool to offer you’re on your way to being a fish in the Great Barrier Reef.

Maori Wrasse fish
Maori Wrasse fish

5. Live in paradise

Of course, paradise is subjective. But make no mistakes- this paradise you would have to live in goes unmatched. This underwater haven bursts of color and energy, with the right mix of fear and excitement. If you need some more convincing, there is always the option to take a scuba diving tour which, from firsthand experience, is totally worth any anxiety of being strapped with a 20lb tank, a belt of rocks and sunk to the bottom of the ocean. I’m telling you, it will take your breath away (until you grow your gills.)


Kierstin Darragh is a student at the University of Maryland and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Kierstin is currently studying abroad with TEAN on the Gold Coast, Australia.