Shallow hard coral gardens are home to sweetlips, Moorish Idols and a variety of anemonefish , but it is the sheer walls (some with a 1,000 metre drop!) which are the main attraction. Grey Reef Sharks, White-tip Reef Sharks, Silvertip Sharks and, in season, Scalloped Hammerheads make this the most reliable shark diving in Australia. Sperm Whales, Manta Rays, turtles and other large pelagics all pass by from time to time in the shadowy depths. A coral cay formed entirely by sedimentary debris, the island appeared above sea level some 3,500 years ago. For a decade in the 1800s, the island was visited by workers mining guano — used as gunpowder and fertiliser — which virtually wiped the land of all vegetation, save for eight Pisonia trees. Today, under the watchful eye of Peter, the island has become a conservation eco-centre, gently reverting back to an island where nature rules.
Operators typically offer two dive sessions on Coral Greenhouse trips, so you can see the sculptures and also explore the neighbouring reef. The museum’s mission is to educate visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed reef and highlight the need for conservation and restoration efforts to help protect this precious ecosystem. In the first stage of the museum’s opening, two important artworks have been created. The Museum of Underwater Art, off the coast of Townsville in northern Queensland, is said to be the only underwater art museum in the Southern Hemisphere. By sharing the stories of the Great Barrier Reef and the local Aboriginal people, the museum hopes to inspire reef conservation and help preserve this natural wonder. It’s important that we encourage our state and federal governments to stand up and take real action to protect the Reef.
Other research is listed in Frankel , Baker et al. , GBRMPA , Engelhardt & Lassig , Bellwood , GBRPMA and Lucas et al. . A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Great Barrier reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, made up of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands, covering approximately 344,400 square kilometres. Coral bleaching is occurring more frequently as oceans warm.Damage to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from climate change in 2020 has been the most widespread ever recorded, according to scientists surveying the iconic corals.
Though Lady Elliot and Heron are both coral cays, Heron is considerably older, the sand underfoot ground down over time to a finer grain. It was first occupied in the 1920s when a factory producing soup from turtle flesh was built here. Inevitably, the population of turtles in the area dropped dramatically during the decade the factory was in operation. Visitors spent their days riding sea turtles on the island before that was prohibited in the 1960s — the same decade when the harbour was demolished to give boats direct access to the beach, taking part of the reef with it. Peter’s words stick with me, and I keep them in mind as I head off to see what’s happening on the other islands on Queensland’s Capricorn Coast.
There are recorded some 1,500 species of fish, including 49 pipefish and 9 seahorses (half the world’s species), 6 turtles, 15 sea snakes and 80 genera of octocorals . The immense diversity of marine life encompasses 5,000-8,000 species of mollusc. 630 echinoderms, 1,330 crustaceans, 6,000 amphipod crustaceans, 1,500 sponges, 350 ascidians , bryozoans over 500 polychaete or bristle worms and 1,000s of platyhelminthes .