We’ve been to Lady Musgrave Island several times and we love it, particularly this time of year as it’s turtle nesting season. It was a hard decision … stay at Fitzroy Reef for an extra two nights, or spend some time on LM island hoping to see a turtle lay her eggs. Weather always dictates our decisions, so Lady Musgrave won out. And she didn’t disappoint!
I had three great snorkels but it was the last I will remember. We have a favourite little lagoon at LM so I saved it for my last snorkel of the season. It did not disappoint.
Just when you think … oh, nothing new, I’ve seen these fish before, seen this coral and its all becoming a tad ‘the same’, something special pops up, right in front of you. Maybe it’s an anemone fish, or a ray, or a turtle … or maybe even a hermit crab! It was a big, orange, red, hermit crab waddling across the coral right in front of me. I was so excited and I was able to take heaps of photos! I’m not sure how big a ‘big’ hermit crab is, but to me, this one was big.
I did a bit of reading on the net and discovered people actually have hermit crabs as pets! Hmmm. Apparently these crabs can reach lengths of 12 to 18 inches. I think my hermit crab was about 10 inches in size and it was living in a big shell too. Hermit crabs change homes often and they are known to fight another same-sized crab for a shell. And … they are not always lonely!
So many pics … here’s a ‘few’ favourites in a slideshow …
Always a favourite, the Anemonefish …
Here’s a few more …
Then there’s the turtles. In 2016 we went ashore in the evening with Gary and Annie on Chances hoping we’d see a turtle lay her eggs and we did. So I was hoping for the same experience. While I didn’t spot many mating in the water this year, there were plenty of turtle nesting tracks on the island. The turtles come ashore at high tide and usually only at night. So after talking to the volunteers on the island, asking about the turtle’s current behavior, we decided to go ashore the next morning at 5.30 am, which would be just after the overnight/early morning high tide. Even Neville agreed! So with the promise of a cooked breakfast on our return, we jumped in the dinghy and circumnavigated the island by foot (which takes all of 30 mins), but unfortunately we didn’t see any turtles nesting. Plenty of fresh tracks but we had missed them. Plan B … visit at the 5 pm high tide later the same day for drinks and tea ashore, and turtle watching! It wouldn’t be dark but fingers were crossed.
So with the wind increasing, there was a bit of indecision. ET pulled the plug, so Neville and I went ashore on our own. And we were glad we did. It was still daylight, just after high tide and we found a turtle digging her nest not far from where we landed our dinghy. Bingo! We set up our chairs, opened a bottle of wine and quietly watched this turtle lay her eggs as the sun slowly set behind us. We did not want to disturb her. Amazing!
We watched her dig her pit, using her flippers to fling away the sand (which is how I noticed her). It must be exhausting as this process takes some time. She would often rest, take a big breath and those flippers would start again, right flipper, left flipper, rest, big breath, right flipper, left flipper. Once the nest was big enough, she then built an egg cavity using her rear flippers. This is a smaller deeper hole called the egg chamber. When the sand finally stopped flipping, the egg laying started. How lucky were we! When her eggs were laid, she then used her rear flippers to cover the egg chamber, packing the sand securely with each flipper. Gradually, more and more sand covered the pit with all flippers hard at work. Once again, a very long process. She must have been exhausted! As we walked away thinking how fortunate we were to see mother nature at work, we noticed another female turtle returning to the sea after also laying her eggs, obviously very near to where we were.
A special visit to Lady Musgrave this year!
We were lucky enough to enjoy four days in the Southern Reef. Finding a long enough weather window is tricky this time of year. However, we also know the weather forecasts in November can be a little unreliable especially too far out, so if we had known we were going to get 25 knots at Lady Musgrave one night, would we have gone? I don’t think so. However, what we have learnt is that both the Fitzroy and Lady Musgrave lagoons do offer very safe and secure protection from all wind directions and while we had one night of strong wind (only 12 hours), our other days were magic.
We have now made our way to the Sandy Straits near Fraser Island. The Wide Bay Bar is next, followed by Mooloolaba and then Boatworks where we will once again store The Bossa for the summer.