Low Isles Sept 2015

This morning we left early to visit the Low Isles, a 2 hour sail from the marina in Port Douglas.  Actually it was a motor as there was no wind at all.

We picked up a mooring, not very successfully, I was steering and should have come up wind to it, but we were not sure how much water we had, so I cam downwind, and was not able to steer as I was going so slow, so I didn’t get the buoy in the middle, but to far to one side.

In the struggle to hold on to the buoy somehow Dave cut his arm, not too badly luckily, but I felt very guilty.

Before we had even stopped the engines, a couple of sharks were circling the hull! A few drops of blood were all that had fallen in the water, yet they had found it!!

We lowered the dinghy and while Dave was starting the engine a shark leapt right out of the water a meter from the dinghy! In the air above him was a fish he was trying to catch. What a photo that would have been, the small fish in the air, the shark under it, and Dave very near with a startled expression!! He leapt back on the boat pretty quickly!!

Funnily enough I had seen a shark leap out the water like that at Fitz last month. I told Dave about it, and he looked a bit sceptical. He admitted that he hadn’t really believed me, but now he’s seen it, he realises it was true!!

We waited half an hour before we went ashore, just to be on the safe side!

Even though this is a very popular destination for tourists from Cairns, the beach was empty when we arrived, so Grant and I went for a snorkel. Dave decided that he would be a shark magnet, so he stayed

on the beach,

The water was clear with good visibility, and the coral is in good condition, but there was not as many fish as I was expecting seeing this is a green zone, where fishing of any kind is not allowed.

There were a few random fish, and a couple of small schools, but then we saw two giant clams, the biggest nearly a meter wide! It was the iridescent green again, but not as bright as the one I saw on Fitzroy a few weeks ago.

This  is a close up of him.

There are so many birds on the island, safe from possums, it’s lovely to hear their calls and see them flying a round in flocks. We are not allowed on the island between sunrise and sunset, to give them a bit of peace.

The water was clear with good visibility, and the coral is in good condition, but there was not as many fish as I was expecting seeing this is a green zone, where fishing of any kind is not allowed

In the meantime a boat load of tourists arrived and were splashing around frightening everything away, so we headed further out to the edge of the reef, keeping a wary eye out for those sharks!!

There we saw two huge trevally, over a two  foot long, so we swam behind them for a while. Grant gave me his Go Pro and headed back and I swam off to see what was looking photogenic, and almost bumped into an even bigger turtle, so I followed him for a while. He swam in a very relaxed fashion, not seeming to perturbed by my presence, calmly looking at me They seem have an air of calmness about them, as if they spend a lot of time doing yoga and meditating!

The water was shallowing as I came toward the shore. I looked up to get my bearings and when I looked down again I was over a six foot snake that was lying on the bottom!! I tried not to panic, or splash and draw attention to myself, these things are poisonous, and yes I know they only have small mouths, but they are still deadly!!

Back on the boat we saw there was three of four species of fish sheltering under the hull, about ten fish all together.

Just as we were taking pictures of the sunset a sea eagle flew past carrying a fish in its claws. All three of us took photos, but it was too fast, and too far away to get anything good.

That evening a shark was still circling the boat, so maybe it wasn’t the blood, but just part of his hunting ground! Who knows!

Grant has had such luck with the wild life he saw today, the only animals missing were dugongs and whales. Maybe we will see them on the way back.

As the sun started to set hundreds of birds flew over from the mainland to roost, and the air was filled with their cooing. The cooing continued all evening and some of the night, interspersed with the calls of other night birds. That was a soothing lullaby to fall asleep to.

We went ashore for a walk this morning and met the custodian Wayne Fox, who looks after the island with his marine scientist wife.

He told us there were 300 turtles living around the island. They could be found in certain areas at different states of the tide, and as it went out they swam through a narrow channel to the other area. Imagine snorkelling with 300 turtles swimming with you!!

Wayne said the reason the shark and fish were hanging around the boat was that people, against the island rules, were feeding them off the boats. He said they were perfectly safe to swim with, and only one crocodile had been seen here, and that was several years ago.

Wayne and his wife live on the island full time, mostly by themselves, occasionally joined by scientists or research students. They go back to the mainland every couple of weeks for supplies.

It was fascinating talking to him, he was so knowledgeable.