Lady Elliot Island

Gentle giants of the Pacific

Print edition : October 14, 2016

The coral mosaic on the ocean floor off Lady Elliot Island in the Pacific Ocean.

Lady Elliot Island surrounded by lagoon, a view from the Cessna aurcraft.

Manta ray. Manta rays can grow up to seven metres in width and can be massive, but they are gentle despite their size. Photo: Sean Scott

Manta Ray. Photo: Sun Travel TV

Schooling fish.

A giant fish off the island shore.

A grouper fish.

The ocean floor is vibrant with a profusion of sea life.

Schooling fish. Each coral head has a compact colony of individual polyps. The polyps are withdrawn during the day to escape predatory fish such as parrotfish, butterfly fish, sea slugs and angel fish, which feed on them.

Hawksbill turtle.

Giant clam. The clam leaks colour when stressed.

Giant clam that leaks colour when stressed.

A fossilised sea creature on the island.

A rich coral forest. There are several “bommies”, or isolated hard coral reefs, off the island. Despite their rocky appearance, hard corals are also living organisms much like their soft counterparts.

Tropical vegetation on the island.

Unique coral island vegetation.

A star fish on the reef.

Noddy tern. The island did not have any birds until 1970. Afforestation work undertaken by the Queensland government brought nesting sea- and shorebirds to the island in huge numbers.

The lighthouse on the island.

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