For the fifth and last post in our Southern Great Barrier Reef series for now, we take you somewhere really spectacular: to Wistari Reef. This is the snorkeling highlight to date, with outstanding coral pools and a large number of attractively patterned fish. It is amazing how every reef we stop at has its own identity with diverse marine life.
But first, we had to get there, and our friends the humpback whales were frolicking while we were sailing under spinnaker! Breaches, tail lobbing, right up to the passage between the Heron Island reef and Wistari Reef! One particular whale was amazing, with a lot more white coloring than we have seen before. May be it is related to Migaloo, the totally white whale?
Here is an aerial shot of Wistari and Heron Island Reefs, showing the mooring we tied to and where we snorkeled.
We again took advantage of the Marine Parks mooring buoy, hooking up Take It Easy on the Heron Island side of the channel, but choosing to dive at the renowned Wistari Reef, also renamed by us as Wisteria, or Wasabi because we kept forgetting the proper name. Our excuse is that we saw lots of wasabi and wisteria colored corals and fish! One of the things we found is that we could snorkel at high tide as well as low tide and still enjoy superb dives. You just have to wear a weight belt to make it easier to duck dive and get close to the striking marine life. This also meant we could go for a snorkel several times instead of being limited to one dive at low tide very late in the day.
Here are a few examples of the brilliantly colored coral and clams. Can you spot the wisteria and wasabi?
The fish diversity was quite astounding. The parrotfish in particular are eye catching in their mix of vibrant turquoise, green, pink, orange or purple colors and striking patterns. The butterflyfish are fascinating too with their mix of yellow, black and white, needing you to look closely at the line patterns on their body to differentiate the species. To us the parrotfish and butterflyfish are the essence of the reef’s fishlife. But then we saw the anemone fish and were mesmerised!
We feel very blessed to be enjoying great weather, gentle conditions and experience so much beauty. We have been on the Reef for 9 days, but feel like we have been away for much longer. Although we have seen some damage in places, with broken coral and rubble mainly due to storm damage, overall the Southern Great Barrier Reef is healthy.
This post concludes our Capricorn series for now. We will return either when the wind allows or later in the season and explore further. In particular we want to go back to the cays at the NW end of the chain. Masthead and Northwest Islands where we have been before interest us, as does the Fairfax Islands Reef.
With a weather change approaching, we left the reef on 19 July, to hide behind the Keppel Isles, just 8nm off the mainland and about 55nm north west of the northern most cay on the chart. It was also a return to internet and phone coverage, allowing us to schedule our series and be in contact with everybody!