TOUR OF THE WEEK
The tour of the week was a culmination of a few reef walks. There were so many outstanding moments you couldn’t just isolate just one adventure. Along one of the guided reef walks a magnificent Starry Moray Eel (Echidna nebulosa) cruised past the guests. Moray Eels are nocturnal animals and usually quite timid and shy. You are very fortunate if you cross paths with these fascinating creatures. All the usual suspects were also found out in channel one today. The Diadema Sea Urchin (Diadema savignyi), Decorator Urchin (Mespilia globule), Common Queensland Urchin (Echinometra mathaei), Blue Linckia Sea Star (Linckia laevigata), New Caledonian Sea Star (Nardoa novaecaledoniae) and Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus giganteus) were all sighted. Yet there was more to come, a very special treat for the guests along this particular reef walk. An Opisthobranch (Plakobranchidae) was spotted next to one of the sea stars. A rare find out on a reef walk as they are quite hard to spot of the guests was able to capture this amazing image of the organism. Also found was a magnificent Asses’s Ear Abalone (Haliotis asinine) seen in this picture here. Abalone are highly sought after and a lot of illegal harvesting still exists today.
DIVE OF THE WEEK
The tides were right, there was barely a breath of wind and it was a full moon, all the ingredients for what would be an amazing night dive. Now here at Lady Elliot Island a night dive is quite rare, you first need to get the high tide at night and have favorable wind conditions to allow it to be enjoyable. As the sun was setting at approximately 5pm the divers geared up as they embarked on their journey into the deep blue at night. 12 divers in total participated on this occasion as they moored up to second reef and descended down to what is know as “sandy seconds.” There is always a little bit of nervous excitement before a night dive not knowing what you might see or what might see you. As soon as the group dropped into the water you could hear the Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) singing as if they were swimming along right next to you. The divers then moved north towards coral gardens where they encountered massive Malabar Grouper (Epinephelus malabaricus), a Cowtail Ray (Pastinachus atrus) and even a sleeping Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas). Divers pressed their lights against their chests and waved their hand around in the water to create the phosphorescence underwater, a truly incredible sight. A couple of Peacock Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) were seen on the return leg back towards sandy seconds much to the delight of a few of the divers. The divers surfaced on the water to a full moonlit night looking out towards the island where the still water bathed in all the moons glory.
Project Manta continue their research as a team of volunteers from “Earthwatch” join them in finding out the many manta mysteries
Our quarterly barge delivery to the island!
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK:
A partial lunar eclipse on Saturday night – amazing!