I am sure I will remember this experience at Lady Elliot Island forever, as an experience of what can be considered sustainable tourism in Australia. The day has started with a short flight with a tiny aeroplane (if it is possible to call it this way) with only 13 seats on it.
The flight was tranquil, a short time after flying over the ocean we started to see Lady Elliot, this was the exact moment I began to fall in love with this little pearl of the sea, even more than on the ground, before doing snorkelling on its coral reef, before having rested on the beach.
Immediately we discovered we were not alone, Lady Elliot Island is one of the most significant seabird breeding sites in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (UNESCO), and it is the southern-most extent of many species’ breeding distribution. Large numbers of seabirds can be found at this site between October and April each year. Although around 57 species can be found on Lady Elliot Island through the year, only approximately 14 of these species use the site for breeding. Some of these species include black and common noddies; black-naped, bridled, crested, roseate and sooty terns; pied and sooty oystercatchers; wedge-tailed shear-waters, silver gulls and the threatened red-tailed tropicbird. (thanks Lady Elliot Island website for the info click here to read more).
After a short meeting with the staff my friends and I decided to start snorkelling in the eastern side of the Island, as suggested from the team, it was a bit windy, and during the afternoon this side can be more difficult to snorkelling in because of the tide too.
The lagoon is in general ideal for novice snorkelers (tide dependent) and full of tropical fish, colourful coral, sea cucumbers, starfish, sea urchins, clams and turtles.
After a delicious but light lunch and a walk around the Island we joined one of the daily glass bottom boat/guided snorkel tours, this excursion was much more comfortable than the first one because we had the chance to jump from the ship which is (in my opinion) much better than the entrance straight off the beaches. No sharks for us but only adorable and cute fishes, turtles and corals.
Video snorkelling (Ale, Sara, Walter)
We have been so lucky not only to swim with a turtle but also to see a massive manta under our glass-bottom boat. I have to share Lady Elliot Island is collaborating with a project from the University of Queensland, Brisbane about mantas: http://www.ladyelliot.com.au/content/project-manta-0 .The plans were founded in 2007 to investigate the population biology and ecology of manta rays in eastern Australia. Photo/
Video Turtle (Ale, Sara, Walter)
Why Is Lady Elliot Island the right choice if you like to do sustainable tourism in Australia?
Because they have an Eco-Resort, an Environmental Policy, Environmental Protection and Eco Initiatives
Eco Resort, The Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, is dedicated to the preservation of the natural environment of the Great Barrier Reef. Island Management has reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions by introducing a combination of solar and gas technology, water desalination and various strategic behavioural adaptations on the Island. They have developed the first dedicated Climate Change Trail and Tour around the Island to highlight the impacts that climate change could have on a coral cay ecosystem. If you like to find out more about what the manager Peter Gash and the staff do to offer a more sustainable tourism click here (http://www.ladyelliot.com.au/content/eco-resort )
Environmental Policy the fully complete environmental policy can be found on Lady Elliot Island website In http://www.ladyelliot.com.au/content/environmental-policy
Environmental Protection Lady Elliot Island is a National Park and Marine National Park, ie. A ‘Green Zone NO TAKE’ area and therefore has numerous minimal impact regulations that must be followed. Please visit Lady Elliot Island website to read the complete list. http://www.ladyelliot.com.au/content/environmental-protection
Eco Initiatives more info at www.ladyelliot.com.au/content/eco-initiatives
– We generate power utilising our state of the art Hybrid Solar Power Station, which combines the technologies of solar panels, gel batteries, inverters and a generator to supply 3 phase power to the Island.
– The fuel, gas and other energy sources come from Gladstone by barge every three to four months.
– The freshwater is created by a Dunlop IBC reverse osmosis desalination system, converting seawater to clean water at a rate of 25 litres per minute.
– Our wastewater/greywater is treated in an AdvanTex wastewater treatment plant and is used for irrigation of the airstrip
– All of the fresh fruit, vegetables, other food items and beverages come to Lady Elliot Island by aircraft, and all food waste is composted in a pit system.
– Solid waste material and petroleum-based oil wastes are removed by barge to approved facilities on the mainland