TOUR OF THE WEEK
There were a lot of fantastic tours this week, the first one was the night reef walk on Tuesday. Conditions were wild and wooly with strong winds and scattered showers but this didn’t deter guests keen to see the after dark action. In the middle of the lagoon guests came across a beautiful bright green asses ear abalone (Haliotis asinine) that was moving very quickly to escape the attention. It was amazingly well camouflaged, and was examined closely to see its slimy body. These creatures are heavily exploited for their tender flesh which is eaten as a delicacy. Everyone was happy to know that it was completely safe in our green zone so we let it get on with its business. Coming back to the shore guests saw the ancient nerites shell (Nerita plicata) which was another example of beautiful nocturnal mollusk that comes out to graze the reef under the protection of darkness.
Friday’s fish feeding saw many guests heading down to the Fish Pool at 3pm to watch our hungry fish come in for their afternoon snack. Guests were amazed at the variety of species that come on in on a daily basis to enjoy a quick feed as the fish dart between everyone’s legs!
The first fish to be sighted was the scissortail sergeant (Abudefduf sexfasciatus) followed by the diamond scale sea mullet (Liza vaigiensis) and the moon wrasse (Thalassoma lunare) which were all particularly hasty to come on in for a meal. The picasso triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus) however, stole the show with it’s iridescent blue colouration over the eyes and a sandy coloured body. This fish tends to astonish the crowds on every occasion as it is such a beautiful species to look whilst also known to protect it’s young quite vigorously from any potential predators; the triggerfish will commonly make mock charges at any potential predator near their young in order to deter them away from the area. The gold-lined rabbitfish (Siganus doliatus) also came in along with “Nigel” the silver drummer (Kyphosus bigibbus) . Silver drummers are typically seen in schools and are rarely alone, not our Nigel however he’s figured out fish feeding is a wicket and he’s not sharing it with his friends that he normally schools with.
DIVE OF THE WEEK
Diving this week could not be describe as anything but fabulous with favourable wind conditions and a visibility of around 25 to 30 metres. The Sunday dives certainly proved to be the best with some of our larger creatures coming out to give the divers a show.
The manta rays (Manta birostris) were spotted all throughout the dive at the Blowhole gliding through the water with divers below gazing to the surface in awe as these magnificent creatures glided through the water. The mantas are definitely a highlight for any diver with all who were lucky enough to see these graceful creatures feeling as if nothing could top this amazing experience. On the afternoon dive some of our divers even topped this, heading out over Second Reef where they were lucky enough to encounter a tiger shark (Galeocerdo cubier) cruising from the shallows out towards the deeper water where it soon disappeared. Tiger sharks are very rarely sighted in the waters surrounding Lady Elliot so to see one of these on a dive is certainly an awesome experience.
The glass bottom boats have encountered fantastic clear visibility for most of the week, with Monday and Tuesday the absolute peak reaching 40m! This meant there was plenty to see through the glass. The lighthouse Bommies have been consistently covered in green turtles (Chelonia mydas) resting among the crevices while schools of thousands of blue green chromis (Chromis atripectoralis) swarm the water column providing a stunning display of colour. The visibility has been so good that for a few days the boat has come right out to the Severence which is a shipwreck found in 24m of water off Lady Elliot. There the group enjoyed watching schools of the carnivorous big eyed trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus) schooling in their typical tornado formation over the hull of the vessel. The water has remained warm all week and the snorkeling has been terrific. Turtles have been the main attraction with some memorable encounters. One guest wasn’t watching where she was going and just about ran into an enormous male loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) that wasn’t about to move for anybody. She was totally startled at first but quickly warmed to the turtle that appeared to give her a great big grin!
This week we were lucky enough to have Ranger John on the island to process our remaining turtle nests of the season. John was able to find 3 young hatchlings stuck under some coral in one of the nests with the hatchlings being released as the sun rose over the lagoon beach on Sunday morning.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK
ANZAC Day dawn service & Turtle hatchling release!