Coral Reef Adventure

Coral Reef Adventure

They arrived back at the lodge in the middle of the afternoon. Mrs. Oliver hadn’t returned yet, so Emily explored the beach and played in the shallows while her dad read.

Coral Reef Adventure

The sea was beautifully warm. She sat on the sand and let the gentle waves lap around her toes. Tiny silver fish were swimming in the clear water. She tried to see if they would swim into her hands, but they always darted away. She looked further out towards the darker blue water where the reef was. It would be amazing to go and snorkel there. She hoped she’d be allowed.


After a while her dad joined her, and they played beach cricket together until Danny, Jess and Emily’s mum returned. “Come and see the photos!” Mrs Oliver said when Emily ran to meet her. “The reef’s incredible!”

They went inside, and she downloaded the photos onto her laptop, and then showed them to Emily. There were corals of all shapes and sizes – tall blue pillars, pink coral with branches like trees, and large mounds of yellow and purple coral that looked a bit like a brain. Her mum had captured shoals of orange fish swooping through the water, orange starfish and feathery seaweed. There were red crabs scuttling along the bottom and an eel whisking out of a cave. It all looked beautiful, but as Emily studied the scene more closely, she could see damaged areas – corals that had been broken, and gaps in the reef where coral shards littered the sand.

“This is the problem,” her mum said, pointing out some of the damage. “It may not look like much, but when you compare these photos to how the reef looked five years ago, you can see how quickly it is going downhill.” She shook her head. “This reef has taken millions of years to form, and it’s being destroyed so quickly.”

“I wish I could see it for real,” Emily said longingly.

“Well, how about coming out with us tomorrow?” her mum said. “In the morning, Jess and I are heading for the bit of reef beside this nearby fishing village. You could come with us and snorkel.”

“Now that sounds a very good idea!” Mr Oliver said, coming up behind them. “You can count me in too.”

“Great.” Mrs Oliver smiled. “So how was your trip out to see the dolphins?”

“Brilliant!” said Emily. She told her mum all about it while they went to get changed for supper.

Rosa served them another magnificent meal on the veranda, starting with chicken soup with a dash of lime, followed by fresh prawns cooked with coconut and pepper, and pork rubbed with a red spice and baked in a banana leaf. Afterwards they ate churros-sugar-coated doughnut strips – and drank mugs of hot chocolate. Emily felt wonderfully happy, but she was so tired that she soon fell asleep in her chair, and her dad had to carry her up to bed.

“Night-night, sweetheart,” he said as he tucked her up. “Have you had a good day?”

“Oh, yes!” Emily murmured sleepily. “What time are we going to the reef tomorrow?”

“As soon as we all get up. The earlier the better.” He kissed her head. “So you’d better get some sleep while you can.”


Emily shut her eyes and snuggled down. Listening to the ceiling fan whirring day. Overhead, she thought about the next would she see eels and manta rays? Sea horses and starfish? More dolphins? Lost in happy thoughts, she was soon asleep again.

The next morning, everyone was eager to get started. After a quick breakfast they loaded up one of the boats with scuba-diving gear, snorkeling masks and flippers, Mrs Oliver’s cameras and another big cool box full of drinks and snacks. They all climbed in and set off for the reef.

Emily sat at the back of the boat, watching trails of white foam spreading out behind them.

As they approached the reef, Mr Oliver nudged Emily. “Look, I think there are some dolphins over there!” He nodded out towards the horizon.


Emily shielded her eyes from the sun. Yes- her cad was right! She could make out grey fins cutting through the water, and as she watched, two dolphins leaped and skimmed across the surface before diving back in. The pod was heading away from the reef. “Can we go after them?” She hoped it was the same dolphin pod they’d met yesterday – perhaps she’d see Coral. “Not now, Em,” her mum said. “I need to take photographs here on the reef.”

Emily was disappointed. She’d have loved to say hello to the dolphins again, but she knew her mum’s work had to come first. “I’ll take you out in the boat tomorrow again,” Danny offered. She smiled back at him. “Thanks.”

He turned off the engine and threw out the anchor, and Jess turned to the Olivers. diving

“Now it’s time for us all to do some and snorkeling!” she said.

The boat bobbed slightly on the calm sea as they got their equipment ready. Jess and Emily’s mum were already wearing wetsuits, and Emily’s dad helped them on with their scuba-diving tanks so that they could breathe under the water as they explored the deeper parts of the reef. They put the breathing tubes into their mouths, sat on the edge of the boat, waved goodbye and then flippedenido backwards into the water with a big splash. The boat rocked for a few seconds and then steadied it.

“I wish I could scuba-dive,” said Emily, imagining what it must be like to go right deep down into the ocean.

“You can learn when you’re a bit older,” her dad promised. “You’ll see a lot just snorkeling. Remember to wet the inside of your mask.”

Emily nodded followed him. She knew that this was important – it stopped the inside getting steamed up. She put her flippers on and then her mask. Her dad did the same. Danny was going to stay with the boat. “Here goes!” said Mr Oliver. He put the snorkel tube into his mouth and climbed over the side of the boat, using the ladder.

She gasped as the cold hit her -the sun’s rays hadn’t warmed the water yet. But as soon as she started swimming, she forgot all about the cold. There was so much to see!

The reef was a multi coloured world of coral, rocks and seaweed. Everywhere she looked there was a different bright colour. A shoal of blue and yellow fish came swooping past her, followed by some bright orange, black and white clown fish.

And then, suddenly, she spotted a turtle swimming straight towards her! She trod water as it swerved past and then dived deeper, its flippers powering it down towards the sea bed. Emily felt a thrill run through her. She wished she could follow it!

She started swimming again, her eyes taking in everything. Her dad was up ahead, looking at a red starfish. She gave him a thumb up and carried on, swimming round a tall column of blue coral.

Emily came to a stop as a movement in the water ahead suddenly caught her attention. Something was twisting and turning this way and that, churning up sand obviously and debris. What was it? It was some sort of sea creature. Through the cloud of sand she caught sight of a grey fin with fishing net wrapped around it, and then she heard a rattle of frightened clicks. Oh no! A little dolphin had got caught up in fishing net!

Emily swam closer and saw a dark smudge on its flipper. It was Coral, the baby dolphin she’d met the day before! Coral’s eyes were full of panic. She plunged first one way and then the other, but the net was tangled tightly around her fin and tail and caught up in the sharp coral.


Emily’s heart pounded. Dolphins couldn’t survive underwater for long- they needed to come to the surface to breathe. What if Coral drowned? She had to try and untangle her. But as the dolphin flipped from one side to another, desperately trying to free herself from the strong net, Emily realized it was too dangerous. She couldn’t rescue Coral on her own.

She had to get help – and fast!

Read last: Out on the Sea

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