Saturday, 24 October 2015

Michaelmas Cay and the Great Barrier Reef

We had an awesome visit to the Great Barrier Reef today. We started at Michaelmas Cay this morning with the large seabird colony, and spent the afternoon snorkeling at Hastings Reef.

Common noddies breed on the Cay in their thousands, along with sooty terns and brown boobies.  There are also black noddies, Greater and lesser frigatebirds,  black-naped terns and crested terns.

We went on this trip with Seastar cruises from Cairns and we chose them specifically because they are one of the very few boats which is allowed to land on Michaelmas Cay. I'm not trying to promote Seastar, except to say that they were very good, and in the end they were the only operator I considered because landing on Michaelmas Cay was the most important part of the day for me. The photos at the bottom of this post of the coral reef and fish were taken by the crew of the boat during our visit. 

Common noddy.

Bridled terns.

Brown booby, common noddies and sooty terns.

Crested tern.

Brown booby

Great frigatebird, female or juvenile.

Male lesser frigatebird. Notice the white armpits.

Crested terns.

Brown boobies and bridled terns.

Common noddy. Notice the grey rather than white cap and brown plumage.

Black noddy (left) and common noddies.

Great frigatebird. The angel of death!

Sooty tern.

Michaelmas Cay! There's not much to these cays, makes me wonder how they can survive the annual cyclones which pass their way! Hard to believe, but these cays are made by and exist purely because of parrotfish. The corals are ground down by the fish and their poo makes these cays!

The following photos were taken by the crew of the boat during our visit.

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