As the pilot circles the island before coming into land, I have already spotted 5 turtles swimming in the surrounding lagoon... I am literally bouncing with excitement
Welcome to Lady Elliot Island. Located about 40 minutes flight from Hervey Bay, Lady Elliot Island is the southern most coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef. It plays host to a small eco-friendly resort. It is also home to thousands of animals including birds, turtles, sharks and even has its own resident manta ray population. During the months of June to October, it is also boasts migrating whales amongst its visitors.
Lady Elliot Island is also famous for beautiful clear snorkelling and spectacular diving. On the Eastern side of the island just off the beach is a lagoon, where one can regularly enjoy snorkelling and swimming with turtles (Green, Hawksbills and Loggerheads). The Turtles are incredibly friendly, with one green turtle even taking a selfie for me. The Lagoon also plays home to coral, sharks, starfish, octopuses, rays and even Nemos!
The Western side of the island is slightly deeper and this is where you will often find Manta Rays feeding of hanging out at one of the many cleaning stations on the reef. These numbers tend to increase during the winter months, however they can be seen all year round. The Western side caters for deeper snorkelling as well as diving. The experience of having a Manta Ray swimming over your head is simply unforgettable.
Diving is always a treat. Whether you like the larger creatures like leopard sharks, or your prefer the macro creatures like pipefish and nudibranches, there is something for everybody with visibility often at 30 metres. Every so often, you might get a surprise from Dolphins who have inquisitively come to play. The resort caters for all levels of experience and has daily guided snorkelling trips and lessons. Additionally it has glass bottom boat tours and educated reef walks during low tide to learn more about the wonderful life under the sea
As well as under the water, there are lots of things above the water to do ranging from exploring the island including the lighthouse, bird watching and turtle hatchling spotting. The island is heavily populated by birds. In fact the island has the highest seabird diversity of any island on the Great Barrier Reef with over 50 different species and 100,000 birds calling Lady Elliot Island home at some time during the year. Commonly seen birds include Black Noddies, Brown Booby, Lesser Frigatebirds, Terns, and Silver Gull. I luckily saw an eagle one morning, but it was too fast to capture. Although not in peak egg laying season, I was fortunate enough to see a few baby chicks
The Life of a Turtle is one of Endurance and a tale of survival. Normally nesting during high tide and under the cover of darkness, the female turtle lays 80-120 eggs per clutch. Roughly 8 weeks later, the baby turtles hatch, make their way through the sand out of the nest and scamper down the beach into the ocean. They use the light of the moon and water to guide their way. They will then spend the next few years at sea, before magically returning to the same island to lay their eggs. Roughly 1 in 1000 will survive to adulthood, a true fight against the odds.
While up early one morning to watch the sunrise, I was fortunate enough to experience a late clutch of eggs hatching. Watching the hatchlings make their way to the water under the glow of the morning sun... Heaven
Before I sign off, I must mention the sunrises & sunsets... Pure Delight... Every. Single. One. Of. Them...
Lady Elliot Island is Paradise. My day was: Sunrise, Wildlife, Snorkelling, Diving, Relaxation, Beaches, Fun Activities, Sunset. Repeat
You'll be happy to know that the place is very eco friendly, with strategies and policies in place to minimise its impact on the environment. It was awarded an Advanced Eco Tourism Award in 2009 by Ecotourism Australia.
Check out my album for more photos of the island. I have only posted a select few of my favourites, but have many more if you would like to see them. If you would like any further information on the island check out their website. http://www.ladyelliot.com.au/