TOUR OF THE WEEK
It was a beautiful quiet morning to walk along the beach today. With the wind and the birds creating a pleasant ambience, it was great to just take it all in. After some breakfast it was time to get out into the action. The glass bottom boats came across numerous Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) throughout the day, with some enormous ones that are definitely here for the mating season. Two weeks before the laying season starts, the sexually active males and females will mate with one another as many times as possible to ensure for the female that she gets a wide variety of genes and for the male so that his offspring have the best chance by being with multiple females. There were also plenty of juvenile turtles swimming around that all seemed keen for attention and interaction. All the juvenile turtles are just feeding here at Lady Elliot Island; they won’t start reproducing until roughly 30 years of age.
Everyone had a great time on the boats, with some littleys content on just looking at the amazing scene through the glass bottom. Out in the water was marvelous. The Sixbar Wrasse (Thalassoma hardwicke) have been looking magnificent as snorkelers made their way along the rope. The Coral trout (Cephalopholis miniata) were also a big feature, with one Bargara resident describing how he had never seen them at such a size! Then at the end of the boat a Manta came right up against second reef and gave everybody the thrill of a lifetime displaying its entire ventral side as it u-turned. One guest’s eyes were as wide as dinner plates as she recalled the experience.
DIVE OF THE WEEK
The afternoon dive was again jam packed full of action. The Mantas Rays (Manta alfredi) made another appearance around anchor Bommie and again were cruising low to the reef bottom indicating that they were not feeding. This spring has been an extraordinary manta season with many more around the island than what would be considered usual. Whatever the reason they are here for it has made diving exciting for us, and when project Manta come here in a weeks time they can shed some light on the whole situation. Two big Grey Reef Sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) circled up over anchor Bommie as well getting pulses running and the cameras clicking. They are magnificent streamline predators that are agile in the water and can be quite curious with the divers. These two hung around long enough to be photographed lots of times before disappearing back out of visibility to get on with the rest of their business. Later in the dive a very small Cowtail Stingray (Pastinachus atrus) was seen lying down in the sand at a width of less than half a metre. This is quite a rare sight as these guys are normally massive. It was passively watching the divers go by and shuffling to bury itself further. An Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari) showed up towards the end of the dive gliding effortlessly against the current with its long tail extending out forever behind it. The final exciting creature was an Common Octopus (Octopus cyanea) which the divers described as throbbing colour from white to red as if breathing. It is a remarkable ability made possible by the use of special muscles called chromataphores. It is basically a pigment that can be expanded and contracted at the animals will, and can be used to display aggression or to camouflage itself against the reef bottom. It was beautiful display to watch and concluded an exciting day of diving.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK:
AMAZING TURTLE ENCOUNTERS