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

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

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