Diving for Christmas Island treasures

A guinea fowl moray checks out the action in the waters of Ethels Beach, Christmas Island on 12 February 2012. Photo: Tanya Detto

A guinea fowl moray checks out the action in the waters of Ethels Beach, Christmas Island on 12 February 2012. Photo: Tanya Detto

It’s coming up to my first month on the job here at Christmas Island National Park, and what a fantastic place it is — but much bigger than what I’m used to having come from Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. I have to get used to driving everywhere!

I’m enjoying exploring the island, particularly the spectacular fringing reef where I’ve gone diving on a few occasions now. The water is warm and clear and the reef is brilliantly colourful. Coming from the Pacific coast there are a myriad of species new to me which always makes diving more exciting! During my most recent dives (only last weekend) — at the Chicken Farm and Daniel Roux Caves on the northern side of the island — I was pleased to see the reef in excellent condition. There were no visible signs of impact from January’s shipwreck.

 

Anemones, Ethels Beach, Christmas Island 11 February 2012. Photo: Brendan Tiernan

Anemones, Ethels Beach, Christmas Island 11 February 2012. Photo: Brendan Tiernan

Christmas Island’s fringing reef is quite different from the ribbon reefs found around Thursday Island. From what I have seen so far it extends only 50–100 metres from the shore before plunging into a deep abyss. The water is much clearer here because it doesn’t have the seven knot currents that tend to stir things up around Thursday Island.

It’s a very colourful and multi-layered reef — huge plate corals, lots of butterfly fish, wrasse, sea anemones as well as smaller creatures like shrimps, crabs and exotically-coloured nudibranchs which you don’t tend to see a lot of around the Torres Strait. The diversity of marine life is astounding.

I’d really recommend packing your snorkeling gear and coming to see this stunning place for yourself!

Samantha Flakus, Natural Resource Manager
Christmas Island National Park

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