TOUR OF THE WEEK
There were some great reef walks during the week, with one of the most exciting spotting a bright orange Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus) just metres from the shore. These animals are prolific right across the reef but are often overlooked due to their tiny size. It is in fact a worm except it has a highly modified mouth that is arranged like a big fan coiled into the shape of a Christmas tree. The fan is used like a sieve to strain any plankton that is floating past in the water. As anything approaches the worm retracts its fan back into the hole in a fraction of a second. Guests thought it was a remarkable discovery.
While looking closely at the stinging tentacles of an anemone, guests also spotted a Tiger cowrie shell (Cypraea tigris). It was a magnificent specimen with a very polished shell. A lot of people recognised this as a shell that they have on their shelves at home. These shells sold in shops would have been collected off reefs as living animals. On Lady Elliot Island these animals are protected and cannot be taken so that they will be here for the future.
DIVE OF THE WEEK
As the divers awoke on Good Friday they knew they were in for a fantastic day under the water; the clouds had dissipated from the previous day and the manta rays (Manta birostris) were out to play.
The morning dive was one that could not be matched throughout the week with reef sharks cruising-on-by paying little attention to the alien-like divers in their underwater domain, while the fish darted to and fro seeking protection in their coral homes. The main attraction however was of course those mysterious manta rays gliding through the water coming close enough for many of the divers to snap a few memorable pictures and take away a once in a lifetime experience.
In the week before Easter it was all about the Manta Rays (Manta birostris). The tides have been very large owing to the full moon and it is this sort of tidal movement and the associated strong currents that the Manta Rays love.
Lady Elliot has special hydrology, in that when the current is strong it often wraps around both sides of the island and concentrates plankton at a dive site known as the lighthouse Bommies. The manta rays then all congregate in a well defined area and this is how we often find them, all gliding on the surface with their big mouths gaping open.
A Lot of visitors to Lady Elliot have never even heard of let alone seen a Manta Ray and it is always an exciting introduction. Unlike stingrays the largest Manta rays can reach widths of 9m across from wing tip to wing tip and weigh well over a ton!
The main thing that guests always want to know is “Are they dangerous?” Mantas separated from the biology of stingrays a long time ago and have long since lost their barbs. They are as harmless as can be and are one of the most exciting and graceful animals you could ever hope to see.
There were so many fantastic photos taken and some very close experiences on the glass bottom boats and the snorkel safaris this week!.
This week was all about Easter with celebrations kicking off on Good Friday when we saw the arrival of eighty two new guests heading to our shores for a relaxing Easter break.
The weekend was filled with hot cross buns, chocolate treats and a visit from the Easter Bunny on Sunday morning in the early hours before any children had woken for the day.
Easter Sunday was the Easter hunt day with a twist this year with guests forming teams and heading out on a photo hunt searching the island for a variety of species found both in the water and on the land. This was a great new activity to be launched and certainly did not disappoint with 15 teams all competing for the chance to get the ultimate picture of the day.
The return of the Red Tailed Tropic Birds! Three Red-tailed Tropic Birds were sighted flying around the south eastern end of the island with their trademark squawk announcing their presence.
We look forward to another exciting breeding season!