22 surreal scenes from the Great Barrier Reef [gallery]

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1,600 miles long, 133,000 square miles in area, comprising 3,000+ individual reefs and islands, and home to thousands of species.

Finding nemo
Finding Nemo is one of the first things you want to do when you dive the Great Barrier Reef. Around the world, these poor fish have probably been extremely confused as to why, for the past 10 years, everyone has been getting in their face for a photo.

The Cod Hole
Did I mention these guys get really close? They can grow up to 110 kilograms and over 8.5 feet long.

Steve's Bommie
This coral spire shoots up to within a few feet of the ocean’s surface and is covered with fish.

There are a couple good places to go for a scenic swim on the GBR… just a couple.

On my second day on the dive boat, there was an annular solar eclipse. The rest of the passengers and I sat outside and handed around eclipse glasses to watch. I snapped away and was lucky enough to capture an image just as a cloud passed by and the moon and sun once again exposed themselves to us.

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions
The Spoilsport, the exclusive dive boat of Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, isn’t a bad place to spend a week on the GBR.

Coral on the Great Barrier Reef
Various coral textures and sea anemones.

Cod Hole
Here’s a shot of me trying to go all the way — I did my best to get a kiss but she wasn’t having any of it.

Blues of the Great Barrier Reef
Another view of the Great Barrier Reef from above the waterline.

Sunset on the reef
Divers take a minute to relax after another beautiful day of diving.

Mike Ball night
Life on the Spoilsport consists of: nibbling on kangaroo, listening to Captain Trevor serenade us, and closing it all out with the daily homemade dessert…you can get used to life out on the reef.

At night, sharks gathered at the back of the boat, making the evening dip ever so alluring.

Coral on the reef
Another typical underwater scene.

I watched this cuttlefish change colours repeatedly right in front of me. Its spots would turn dark and then glow like they were lit from behind.

One afternoon, while on the top deck of the boat, I turned to see a complete rainbow in front of me.

Just imagine this scene replaying itself every day.

Coral of the Great Barrier Reef

Diving the reef
Down you go!

This guy was the ultimate chiller. I spent a few minutes trying to take some shots of him, and he had this look like, “Enough with the photos already, trying to sleep here, alright?”

Schools of reef fish
Various types of fish move about in their schools.

Again… I had to.

Scott Sporleder was a guest of Tourism and Events Queensland and Mike Ball Dive Expeditions. See 22 more surreal scenes from the Great Barrier Reef on Matador Network.