Lady Musgrave Island is probably the most well known coral cay in the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Day tour boats visit from Bundaberg and it’s a popular stopover anchorage for yachties on the way north and south. It’s approx’ 35 nautical miles from Pancake Creek, south of Gladstone. We had visited Lady Musgrave a few times and loved it, especially when there’s calm weather, as the clear blue azure waters within the lagoon are to die for.
Lady Musgrave was our last ‘hop’ in the Southern Reef before sailing to Bundaberg. Here’s a reminder of our reef hopping journey …
We left Fitzroy Reef at 5 am (ouch) and after a 4-hour motor (again) we entered the Lady Musgrave lagoon in extremely clear calm conditions. Stunning! Since our last visit Marine Parks have added eight moorings. However, anchoring in the lagoon is easy as the bottom can be seen several metres deep and it’s all white sand. Fitzroy Reef and Lady Musgrave are quite similar in that both offer a secure lagoon inside the fringing reef, however, Lady Musgrave has an island. An opportunity to stretch the legs.
What good planning! Whiskers came north from Bundaberg and we south, to meet up at Lady Musgrave Island. We even scored some top-up fresh groceries to add to our dwindling food supply.
The last time we visited Lady Musgrave was two years ago, almost the same time of the year (we were a week later last year). I was very much looking forward to the turtle activity in the water and on the island. While we did see some amorous behavior in the water, it was not as prolific as it was in 2016. Maybe a week makes a difference. However, a walk on the island is always an experience, observing the Black Noddies nesting in the pisonia trees.
The snorkeling at Lady Musgrave lacked the bigger fish I’d seen at Heron Island, but as always, I found something to photograph each time I jumped in, especially the Parrotfish and Moorish Idols! Do you know why the Parrotfish chomp in to the coral rubble? They’re making sand.
On my last snorkel at Lady Musgrave I spotted some very white coral. Thinking it was an example of coral bleaching, I took a photo. As I swam in closer I noticed a Crown of Thorns Starfish (COT). So I did some reading …
A Crown of Thorns is one of the largest Starfish in the world. It feeds on coral and has been one of the biggest causes of coral damage on our reef. It also has very poisonous spikes harmful to us snorkelers. The COT lies on top of the coral and wraps it stomach around the coral, it doesn’t break the coral, it digests the tissue off the coral. Hence, the coral dies and turns white. Each COT eats about its body diameter a night, so when the numbers of COT explode, the coral damage can be extensive.
That’s it for our Southern Reef adventure! There’s islands and coral cays we didn’t get to this year, but they’ll be there for our next visit! We are now on our way to Moreton Bay and Boatworks.
Once again a thankyou to Chris and Wade (and Sue) from Take It Easy for letting us tag-along. We really enjoyed catching up at each location and sharing the discoveries of the day over a wine or two.