fitzroy reef

By | September 11, 2020

After three days at Lady Musgrave we moved on to Fitzroy Reef with AQ.  I have written about Fitzroy a few times so I’m not going to repeat myself other than to remind my readers that there is no coral cay or island at Fitzroy.  It is an enclosed lagoon with a marked entrance like Lady Musgrave, albeit a lot smaller lagoon and less populated. We spent five days at Fitzroy Reef.  Not all ‘perfect’ weather and some big tides with the full moon … but I did manage to snorkel every day!  While the reef here (and at LM) has deteriorated over the years, I always manage to find something that captures my eye.

The Christmas Tree Worms!  These are small creatures that attach themselves to coral and basically live there forever. With the variety of colours I’ve seen, including the multi-coloured ones, its very obvious why these tiny creatures have such a name. I’ve often lingered very close taking my photos so it’s not my presence that sends them ‘indoors’ it’s the shadow I eventually cast.

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Two years ago on our first visit to the Fitzroy lagoon, I came across a red Sea Anemone housing two Pink Anemonefish. This Sea Anemone really captured my imagination, both the colour and the shape of the Anemone itself.  They can actually look like a big fat donut! I’d only ever seen one other and that was a pale brown one in New Caledonia. The Anemone has a central body and many tentacles that waver in the water, waiting for prey to pass by, along with Anemonefish who call the Sea Anemone home. They are normally 20-50 cm in diameter, but can grow as big as 1 metre I’ve read. The coloured column structure are often vivid colours – blue, green, pink, purple or brown. This one was red and approx’ 30-40 cm in diameter. As the Sea Anemone retracts, the more colour of the column structure is revealed. It is often called a Magnificent Sea Anemone!

I was determined to try to find this Fitzroy Magnificent Sea Anemone again.  And I did!

It certainly seemed bigger which is not surprising and sure enough the two Pink Anemonefish (same two?) were home, along with a youngster, which you can see in some of the photos. I used my original TG4 camera for the closer photos and my TG5 with my wet dome lens for the wider angle photos. The adult Anemonefish were not too keen on me being so close so it took some time before they felt safe to venture out of their stinging tentacles, while the toddler really didn’t care. While I patiently waited, the Anemone itself slowly started ‘retreating’.  Not surprising as I did hang around for some time.

I have added the photos in sequence, so you will notice the different shape of the Anemone as it closes, protecting its inhabitants from the great big buffoon outside … me! See if you can see the shrimp too.

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I also spotted a very reluctant Australian Anemonefish …

The reef and bommies in the Fitzroy lagoon are quite damaged in many parts and perhaps also less colourful, so when we chat to other snorkelers I’m always listening for new spots to discover.  Fitzroy is also a fishing zone, so there are few big fish. Here’s a few photos I’ve taken with my wide-angle wet lens to show some of the less colourful and interesting sights below the water.

With no phone reception out there and some strong wind on the way, we have retreated to the Gladstone Marina for a few days of washing, shopping, jobs and phone calls … and blog writing. (Remember, touch or select the individual photo for a fuller-size version.) I do hope our travels can help pass the time a tiny weeny bit back there in Vic.

One thought on “fitzroy reef

  1. Chris on Anui

    Great images of the anemone and its inhabitants. It is a really useful sequence that shows the changes well! We have noticed the deterioration to the reef, but like you find different details that hold our attention, and try different areas. It is upsetting to see increased damage. Wait till you get to the Keppels! There was a bleaching event in February and the damage there is significant. If you get a chance, try to go to Barren Reef, it is vibrant and healthy, far enough away from the runoff from the Fitzroy River.

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