Lady Elliot Island is situated in one of the world’s most delicate natural locations, the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most biodiverse World Heritage Sites in the world and Lady Elliot Island has a responsibility to ensure the protection and education of the reef, to do this we find that partnerships play an imperative role. By working together with government and public bodies we can educate and manage the reef sustainably.



Lady Elliot Island a Commonwealth Island managed jointly by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service under a collaborative lease arrangement with a tourism operator. Lady Elliot Island is leased from the GBRMPA for the operation of a low-key resort, which accommodates up to 150 overnight guests. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority leases a small section of the island for the operation of the lightstation.

The waters surrounding Lady Elliot Island are a Marine National Park (Green) Zone under both State and Commonwealth Zoning Plans. Lady Elliot Island is a Commonwealth Islands Zone. A No Anchoring Area is designated on the western side of the island. Anchoring is available adjacent to the No Anchoring Area.

Lady Elliot Island Lightstation was listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List in 2004. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 requires the Commonwealth agency that owns or controls the Commonwealth heritage place to make a written plan to protect and manage the Commonwealth heritage values of the place.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has made a Heritage Management Plan to protect and manage the Lady Elliot Island Lightstation's Commonwealth heritage values. The Lightstation Heritage Management Plan is important in ensuring the heritage values are preserved. The Lady Elliot Island Lightstation Heritage Management Plan describes and assesses the heritage values, as well as detailing those obligations, appropriate policies and management regimes required to ensure that these heritage values are managed and protected.

For further information, please visit

Sustainable Island Resort Case Study

LEI Climate Change Trail Signage


Project Manta is a multidisciplinary research program based at the University of Queensland, Brisbane. It was founded in 2007 to investigate the population biology and ecology of manta rays in eastern Australia. The research is funded and supported by an ARC Linkage Grant and several partner industries including Earthwatch Australia, Brother, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort and Manta Lodge and Scuba Centre.

Photo-identification (photo-ID) is one of the key methods used in our research as individual manta rays can be differentiated by their distinctive ventral markings, comparable to human finger-prints. ‘Citizen Science’ is a major component of Project Manta for photo-ID data collection. Professional and recreational divers provide photographs and sighting information of manta rays along the entire east Australian coast. Involving the community with our research has not only led to increased public awareness about manta rays and their marine environment, but also promoted UQ and our partner industries. Regular updates about Project Manta’s recent discoveries and research news are distributed to the public through email, Facebook and other internet resources.

Despite the popular interest worldwide for manta rays, very little is known about their biology and ecology. Knowledge of their distribution and movement patterns is vital for conservation purposes. The reef manta, Manta alfredi, is known to occur and aggregate at several locations along the eastern Australian coast. However, information on the distribution, movement and biology of M. alfredi in eastern Australia is not well understood.

This research project focuses on the population ecology and biology of manta rays off the east Australian coast. It aims to provide important information on the life history of the manta ray population in eastern Australia, needed for conservation purposes. The main aspects investigated are:

  • the population ecology (population size, structure and distribution)
  • their habitat use at aggregation sites
  • the feeding ecology (diet composition, feeding behaviour, preys nutritional quality etc)
  • the cleaning ecology (cleaning fishes species, parasites, cleaner fish segregation, cleaning stations)

The Project Manta team visit Lady Elliot Island twice a year. On these expeditions the team will conduct research which includes photographing, observing and recording manta ray behaviour. In the lab, they identify individual rays from photographs and enter the results in the database. They also collect samples of water and plankton and take oceanographic measurements of water currents, conductivity, temperature, and depth.

Lady Elliot Island is an important aggregations sites and is integral to the important research undertaken by Project Manta, manta rays can be seen all year around but aggregate by hundreds during the winter months.

“Excitingly, we have captured on film the late-stage courtship behaviour of manta rays at Lady Elliot Island, something that has only been done a handful of times before.”

Dr Kathy Townsend
Project Manta

Click on the following link to view or download scientific publications from Project Manta.

Contact Project Manta @ [email protected]