We have had the good fortune to spend a week on the Southern Great Barrier Reef with our friend Sue on board, and catamaran cruising friends Amanda & Neville on Bossa Nova, and now we are back on the mainland as you would have gathered with the publication of this post.
Every stop you make along the Reef offers an incredible variety in seascapes and marine life. No two cays or lagoons are the same. For this reason we have put five posts together about our reef hopping activities and we will share these with you over the next 10 days. The first in this series focuses on North West Island.
Dolphins jumping high in the air to get rid of remoras (they have a suction pad on the top of the head to attach themselves to larger fishes), a manta ray flying through the air as we arrived, dozens of stingrays congregating in the shallows, hundreds of beautiful noddies and brown boobies flying around us, turtles and their tracks in the sand from the previous night’s egg laying session, these are just a few of the delights of our stay at North West Island.
This coral cay is one of the northern most reefs in the chain of the Capricorn and Bunker Group, part of the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Although 50nm offshore of the Keppels, you are not isolated here, North West Island being a favourite camping spot with fishermen, especially on weekends. You can only get in and out of the pisonia tree-covered cay at high tide. At other times the reef forms a barrier and it is too shallow to motor over it.
It is quite amazing to walk right around the cay as you get to see lots of bird life, turtle tracks and a huge number of Cowtail Stingrays congregating in the shallows!
But at low tide it is time for entrancing snorkeling through the gutters on the edge of the extensive reef surrounding the cay. Having arrived at low tide we suited up and were in the water straight away. There were so many beautiful species big and small, a mix of those we are familiar with and new ones we had not observed before. Many of them being very shy and speedy, we could not photograph them all, but here is a small selection.
We spent a day and night there, then left the next morning for our second stop along the reef: Wistari Reef.