If you are a keen nature lover, then you can’t miss a visit to the stunning tropical island, Fitzroy Island, situated close to the nearby coast of Cairns, in the heart of Tropical Far North Queensland. Bonus news? Fitzroy Island is located right among the heart of the breathtaking Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Listed natural wonder of the world.
The warm and pristine, tropical turquoise waters that surround beautiful Fitzroy Island are home to numerous species of awe-inspiring sea wildlife. In this article, we shall highlight five of the most amazing types of sea animals you shall have the opportunity to spot upon exploring the ocean waters surrounding Fitzroy Island.
Witnessing the beauty of sea turtles up close is the most popular request when it comes to the wishes of visitors to the Great Barrier Reef. Thankfully, six out of the world’s seven species of marine turtles happen to live in this magnificent region, and Green Turtle sightings in the waters surrounding Fitzroy Island are not uncommon.
Additionally, Fitzroy Island is host to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. The Centre is coordinated by an especially dedicated team of volunteers, who are wholeheartedly committed to the rehabilitation of sea turtles who are injured and/or sick, with the hopes of releasing them into their ocean home once recovery is complete. If you are a turtle lover, a tour of the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre is a must-do activity when visiting Fitzroy Island.
Another famous inhabitant of the turquoise ocean waters surrounding Fitzroy Island is the striking clown fish, made famous by the Disney Pixar film ‘Finding Nemo’ in 2003. These adorable little orange fish with their three distinctive white stripes are often spotted below the ocean’s surface at Fitzroy Island, and delight children and adults alike!
Did you know that clown fish are immune to the poisonous tentacles of the sea anemones (stinging polyps) in which they live? Pretty incredible, huh! Sea anemones spend the majority of their lives fastened to coral reefs and/or rocks on the sea floor. Predators of the clown fish are killed by the sea anemone’s poisonous tentacles, and clown fish assist the protection of sea anemones by warding off polyp-consuming fish (for example, butterfly fish). This symbiotic relationship further benefits sea anemones as clown fish consume algae and other matter and hence clean the anemone.
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Majestic manta rays have been spotted numerous times amongst the calm ocean waters that surround Fitzroy Island. These enormous and especially graceful creatures are very agile and capable of moving at extraordinary speeds. Did you know that the manta ray also breaches the water from time to time?
Dissimilar to stingrays, manta rays do not pose any threat to humans, and their company can be calmly enjoyed while swimming, snorkelling or diving in Fitzroy Island’s warm tropical waters. A manta ray enjoys feasting on numerous different sea wildlife, including small fish, crustaceans and plankton. Interestingly, of any living fish (that’s right, a manta ray is a fish species!) on Earth, manta rays have the biggest brain to body weight ratio, making them even more intelligent than some dolphins.
When people think sharks upon visiting Australia, they often recall larger species of sharks that frequent cold ocean waters in the southern parts of Australia. In contrast, when exploring the warm tropical waters that surround Fitzroy Island, you are far more likely to witness timid Reef Sharks, including the White Tip Reef Shark (the most commonly seen species), as well as the Grey Reef Shark and perhaps the Black Tip Reef Shark, too.
Whales migrate north on an annual basis from the very cold waters of the Antarctic (their feeding hub) towards the warm tropical waters of Tropical Far North Queensland for breeding season. The ultimate time for whale watching at Fitzroy Island is between the months of May and September. Fitzroy Island Lighthouse is a great spot from which to view whales, however, some lucky visitors to the island spot whales straight off the shores of the island on occasion, too. Think species such as the famous Humpback Whales, and the lesser known Pilot Whales and Dwarf Minke Whales.
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