Welcome back to Lady Elliot Island, a coral quay on The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. The Barrier Reef, as everyone knows, is the mighty reef down which Nemo’s dad swam to find his little son.
But what do you really want to see at a coral lagoon? The lagoon of course! The glass bottomed boats leave from the beach at the end of the runway that runs through the middle of the island (see aerial view.) Almost all the trees you see here have been planted in the past 30 years during the patient restoration process – it had been stripped down for the guano in the years before that.
Looking back from the boat at nearly high tide, you can see how clear the lagoon water is. Those buildings on the far left of the photo below are some cabins of the Eco Resort. See how close they are to the sea. We stayed in one of those. They are not fancy because this is a low-impact eco resort.
Our glass bottomed boat took us further out to just above the main reef where the water gets more blue and you can see the whole island from here. Out and out we went. In the deeper water above the reef we tourists went snorkling with the boat crew keeping on eye on us so we felt quite safe. The staff on Lady Elliot Island must have the best job in Australia, in the world.
We saw all kinds of fish and a huge groper and even briefly saw a manta ray. A large green turtle came up from under a coral shelf right in front of me. It was one of those moments that stay in your mind forever. I have no pictures – didn’t have that kind of camera. Besides while you are down there, you just want to experience the moments fully, right there, as you are.
And what of the coral? The coral is not easy to see in the deeper water especially as the swell builds, and from the boat itself this is about all you can make out (below). The startling blues of the starfish are clearly visible though. We saw lots of coral at low tide and I will show you that later.
Don’t worry, I won’t leave you without any photos at all of the wonderful animals in the lagoon, for once back on shore we saw this little fella. He was just turtling along right among the people! It is after all, a turtle’s home, not peoples’ home.
” I’m just a turtle,
A happy green turtle,
Burbling a song…”
We settled on a deck chair as evening fell. Would the big female loggerhead turtles clamber up this very beach in the night? Yes, they did! But that’s for another post.
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Mawson, Writer Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In.