Turtle Meets Turtles

Turtle Meets Turtles

It's well known that #Australia is home to world class #snorkelling. And no one is a better snorkel partner than dozens of feisty sea turtles. This area of the Great Barrier Reef has been well protected, making it a great spot to see all different types of sea life - and have an #active swim right next to them.


It’s one thing to see turtles hatching and laying their eggs, as I did at the Mon Repos Turtle Rookery on the Queensland coast near Bundaberg. It’s a completely different experience to actually swim with them. 

Imagine snorkelling along then suddenly finding yourself surrounded by at least a dozen turtles

Imagine snorkelling along then suddenly finding yourself surrounded by at least a dozen turtles, just floating and chilling and enjoying the water like you. That’s pretty much what happened.

Turtle selfie
Turtle selfie

Let’s go back a step, though, and set the scene. I am basically in the middle of nowhere – on a small crop of land called Lady Elliot Island. It is the southernmost point of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and is only 40 hectares large – about the size of the land the country’s Parliament House is on in Canberra. And it’s not even an island in the traditional sense. It’s actually a collection of bird poo and other sediment that has formed over the top of coral.

Lady Elliot Island
Lady Elliot Island

It’s 80 kilometres from the coast here on Lady Elliot Island and it feels as far away from civilisation as you can get on the Queensland tourism trail. The only access is by small plane and only one small eco-resort provides accommodation. Humans are not in the majority here. This is an island created by animals and an island still ruled by animals.

Humans are not in the majority here.
The beach
The beach on Lady Elliot Island

Humans are not in the majority here. This is an island created by animals and an island still ruled by animals.

Seabirds
Seabirds

The birds are the first thing you notice here. It’s an extremely important nesting site for seabirds and has the most varieties of any island in the Great Barrier Reef.

Blue-beak birds
Blue-beak birds

They sit everywhere – including in the middle of the paths to your rooms – and you’ve got to be ever vigilant not to trip over them.

Another bird
Another of the island's many birds

But the real highlights are in the surrounding water. The island and the area around it have the highest level of environmental protection possible in the reef. That means clear waters and an abundance of coral and sea life.

Crowded waters
Waters crowded with coral and sea life

So this is when I met the turtles. I had donned my snorkel and goggles, pulled on some flippers, and walked backwards into the water to avoid tripping over myself. I had put my head down and started swimming out into the lagoon on the shallow side of the island when I saw something large move to my right. When I looked across, I saw it gliding towards me.

He looks so angry
He looks so angry

Who knows what turtles think about? It looked like not much was troubling them. They certainly weren’t worried about a human with a fluoro snorkel suddenly appearing in their space. In fact, they came closer and were happy to play and pose for photos.

Making his way trough the reefs
Making his way trough the reefs

The coral reef here is home to a lot of sea life; from sea cucumbers to sharks (of which I saw just one small one) to manta rays and, of course, fish.

from  $21

Snorkeling Guided Safari in Lady Elliot Island

Active
 Lady Elliot Island, Queensland, Australia
You may also like

Fraser Explorer 2 Day Tour ex-Hervey Bay

Visit Flying High Bird Sanctuary

There is little here to disturb the marine animals and this is the whole point of the Great Barrier Reef protection. For people like divers, snorkelers, and scientists, this is one of the best access points to the coral and the life that depends on it.

Hello, fishes!
Hello, fishes!
Funny looking fish
Funny looking fish
I think they are playing hide-and-seek
I think they are playing hide-and-seek
Beautiful colours
Beautiful colours
Oh, spotted a stingray!
Oh, spotted a stingray!
Fish bank
Fish bank

It’s fascinating to find out how you accommodate people in such an isolated spot.

Loved this story?

Subscribe to our newsletter

to receive new story and activity ideas in your inbox.

Keep inspired By other stories