Back to Lively Flinders Reef

We could not resist another visit to Flinders Reef in reasonably calm conditions before getting back to the Gold Coast. Get your snorkeling gear on and jump in with us!

We had two days of 10-15 knot ENE, so took off from Bulwer at the NW end of Moreton Island early in the morning, and motored the 10 miles out to the reef. Although the wind was very light, there was about 1.5m swell which made the spot a little ‘interesting’. Let’s just say it was an active site!

We had two one-hour dives on either side of low tide and visited two different sections of the reef. Our first snorkel was at the southern end of the reef (top in the photo), the other along the western edge.

Flinders Reef on a calm day

It was so worth the effort! During the first dive, the highlight was the schools of Dusky Surgeonfish which kept investigating us. We found that if we followed them, they swam away much quicker than we could follow, but if we went down and waited on the bottom among the lovely coral and ferns adorning the seafloor, the school would come to us and swim right around us. You would see the multitude of orange dots on their body, their surgeon like scalpels at the base of their tail and the faint blue line on the edge of their fins.

School of Dusky Surgeonfish
Getting closer!
Coming at us!

Also fun was going right to the edge of the reef wall where the waves were cascading down, creating explosions of bubbles down below. We tried over/under shots, but the power of the waves was just too much to control the timing of the shutter while getting thrown around!

Waves cascading down the reef wall
Wade checking a gully
Watch out for the surge!

Then on the second dive we discovered a “cleaning station” for turtles. Four or five of them would just hang over an expanse of worn coral with small surgeonfish busily cleaning their shells. It is one of those symbiotic relationships. The turtles seek out the marine herbivores to remove algae, dead tissue and parasites off their shell, the fish get a feed! We had often seen the specialist common cleaner wrasses at work, but never surgeonfish supplementing their diet so it was fascinating. We too just hung there, mid water, bopping around, swaying back and forth, observing. It was very peaceful and relaxing. Click on the first image in the gallery and scroll through to see the details.

Once we were able to drag ourselves away from the turtles, the discoveries continued further along with colourful Moon Wrasses and a Yellow Trumpetfish attracting our attention with their vibrant colours and frantic activity. The Trumpetfish was particularly nice to look at, snaking around, twirling and twisting as it was foraging with the Wrasses, a lot more active than we had ever seen.

We had intended to stay there the night, but we felt a bit green in between dives, and the lurching of the boat when we came back from our second snorkel was chaotic! So back to Yellow Patch we went, which just quietly was not very comfortable either! In fact we spent several nights rock and rolling at a succession of anchorages along Moreton Island as the wind picked up again to 36 knots!

Flinders Reef is a magical site and there is still more to discover on the exposed side of the reef. However, given how lively the ocean is there, it is best to go on the rare days when wind and swell are low, or be prepared to be bounced around. We feel very fortunate to have seen this site, particularly when many locals have never been!

We are now back on the Gold Coast, in readiness for our haul out.

11 thoughts on “Back to Lively Flinders Reef

  1. Your posts always amaze me with the beautiful fish and so many vibrant colors! Or, colours. Safe travels, guys. Oh, and Happy Australia Day! 🇦🇺

  2. Wow, great pics! Wade looks like an alien in a strange underwater world ….. engaging pic!

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