Butterfly Bay, Australia - Alina Malicki Casas

My Watermark is Butterfly Bay, just off Hook Island in Australia.

I went on a two-day boat cruise through the Islands recently, just at the end of my year in Australia. That day I woke up on the deck of the boat; it's just the greatest way to start the day. Then we went to Butterfly Bay to go snorkeling. I've been fortunate enough to snorkel many times in my life in different places, but Butterfly Bay was one of the best spots I’ve ever been in my life.

I saw a shark for the first time in the waters: it was a blacktip reef shark – and I've loved sharks since I was a kid – but never have actually seen one in the ocean while I was snorkeling or swimming. It was not one that's aggressive; if anything, it's more scared of you. My friend Dan and I, we saw it and chased it a little bit, but it swam away from us in deep water. It was kind of funny because neither of us were scared, but we definitely were looking over. We made sure when swimming not to swim in one direction, and not to go too long without looking, making sure nothing was chasing us.

And there's these amazing coral formations that were about nine feet tall – you know, like the floating coral polyps that look like they're flowing in the wind. Nine feet tall columns of these things! It was amazing to see massive fish, the size of your torso, lime green and royal blue, swim through this area. It was just amazing.

To be honest, I'm not sure (if the island is populated). It's called Hook Island, and it’s maybe sparsely inhabited; if it is, then very few people live there. But it's really cool out there. I definitely hope to return one day.

It was just a great way to end my year in Australia: it was my last full day to myself and the country. Weekends at the Great Barrier Reef are a amazing; you leave the beach early and you sail out into the sun. It was awesome.

Dana Jackson
Alina Malicki Casas

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