Lizard Island is a granite island about 10 square kilometres in size, with three smaller islands nearby (Palfrey, South and Bird). Together these islands form the Lizard Island Group and their well-developed fringing reef encircles the 10-metre (33 ft) deep Blue Lagoon. Wikipedia
Flights to Lizard Island leave from Cairns and fly over the vast and beautiful Great Barrier Reef.
Lizard Island Research Station
The Lizard Island Research Station (LIRS) was established in 1973 and is owned and operated by the Australian Museum. “It currently hosts about 100 research projects each year conducted by more than 300 people. More than 100 scientific publications are produced each year from research at LIRS.” (Australian Museum)
Anne Hoggett and Lyle Vail are marine scientists and have been managers of the LIRS since 1990. Their kindness and support during our stay was wonderful, particularly when I came down with COVID and Tim and I had to isolate in our accommodation for a week. Thankfully I wasn’t particularly unwell and the day our isolation was over we went snorkelling for 3 hours. The ocean had been taunting us all week, and the magic and beauty of the reef did not disappoint.
Snorkelling off Casuarina Beach
Directly in front of the Research Station is Casuarina Beach, and a short 50 metre swim to a stunning reef.
Snorkelling Casuarina Reef
The colours of this giant clam were amazing. Such bright gold inside.
A short walk from our accommodation was the lagoon and Loomis Reef. From shore, the reef lies about 100 metres out, across quite a strong current, so its best to go at low tide to shorten the swim distance. Once on the reef, the current makes it possible to leisurely float the length of the reef, around the corner of the island ending up at Casuarina Beach.
This is the first time we have seen a blue anemone
Snorkelling at the Giant Clam Garden
Ruth and Arthur, staff at LIRS, very kindly took us out on a boat to Watsons Bay and the Giant Clam Garden. (There is a camp ground at Watsons bay.) We also took a picnic lunch to the deserted Mermaid Beach, but had to cut it short when we realised how fast the tide was going out, threatening to strand the boat on the shore.
Snorkelling ‘Nemo City’
On our way back from Watsons Bay, Ruth and Arthur showed us a coral bommie off Casuarina Beach they call ’Nemo City’. There were so many anemones and anemonefish (aka Nemo). It’s a short swim from the beach if you know where it is, but much easier to find from a boat.
The end of another wonderful adventure, with fabulous people on the amazing Great Barrier Reef.
Cheers til next time, Helen & Tim
For some truly amazing underwater photography from Lizard Island, check out Joeva Dachelet’s Instagram. We met and worked with Joeva last year at Heron Island Research Station and One Tree Island Research Station.