Learning about Lady Elliot Island

This little island just off the Australian coast is so beautiful. It’s circle shaped and lying without any close neighbors at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef forming the endpoint of the Reef.

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It has been mined for guano, which is basically bird poo, in the late 19th century. Back then, all but 10 trees have been cut down and 1 meter of dirt has been taken from the entire island. It was sold as fertilizer and as an ingredient for gun powder. The whole island was stripped from most of its vegetation.

The only people who lived constantly on the island where the lighthouse keeper and his family. Eventually an Australian convinced the government to take tourists on the island and he regrew plants and trees. We learned about the Pisonia trees who are original to the island and the Casuarina trees who refertilize the soil and stabilize its surroundings. Besides, we saw the impressive Pandarum tree that just grows new roots every now and then. It sometimes looks as if a didgeridoo has been put underneath a horizontal branch to support it.

Then you find interesting birds on the island. Some of them (the White-Capped Noddy) have the nice habit of pooping all over making it just a question of time until you’d be hit. We learned that it apparently brings good luck…we still wait for what great things will have to happen now. Since there are no usual land-bound animals, the birds have no real predator. So they can sit, walk and nest on the ground.

The coral around the island has grown over thousands of years and there are beautiful fish around. We’ve seen whales breach and flap their tales, we swam with sharks, we floated alongside turtles and had a school of big eye travelleys beneath us. The wildlife is beautiful! It’s amazing! It’s breathtaking!

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