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Interesting things to know about Lady Musgrave and the Reef

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Lady Musgrave Island and Lagoon is a true coral cay situated 32 nautical miles from the Town of 1770 and and 51nm (100km) north of Bundaberg. Lady Musgrave National Park is a tropical paradise abundant in pisonia forests and bird life. The island is set on 3000 acres of living reef with a deepwater coral lagoon which is unique to the entire Great Barrier Reef Region.

Around the cay’s edge exposed to wind and salt spray grows a fringe vegetation of plants such as casuarinas, pandanus, argusia and scaevola. They protect the shady pisonia forest on the inner part of the island. Pisonia Grandis, the islands most common tree, can be recognised by its broad light green leaves and soft wood. Pisonias are well adapted for island life, with an ability to regenerate from fallen trunks or limbs. During summer they produce large numbers of sticky seed clusters, which stick to birds feathers and are thus transported between islands.

White-capped noddies (black noddies) nest in large numbers on Lady Musgrave Island from October to March with a peak in December. The noddies feed on small surface swimming fish during the day and return to the island at night. Their droppings provide a vital fertiliser from the sea and enable the islands vegetation to develop.

Between October and May, the wedge-tailed shearwaters (mutton birds) are present on the island. During the day the shearwaters feed at sea returning to the island at dusk. The many shearwater burrows in the outer zone of the pisonia forest make the area difficult to walk through and should be avoided during the nesting season, as the burrows collapse easily, causing the death of the occupants.

Nesting Turtles
Lady Musgrave is an important nesting site for both green and loggerhead turtles, with green turtles being more common. Nesting usually occurs at night during high tide, with the main season from late November to January. Hatchlings emerge from nests in the sand from about mid January until late March, mostly from late afternoon to midnight.

Green turtles are under threat throughout the world. The rookeries of Queensland are some of the few protected areas left for these gentle animals to nest. They and their nests are fully protected by law.

The island was named after Jeannie the American born wife of a Queensland
Governor Sir Anthony Musgrave. It is some 14 hectares (35 acres) in area. Properly described as a wooded sandy cay. It has been built by wind driven waves pushing coral rubble, sand and broken shells to one end of the reef. Now it is held together by the roots of trees and shrubs fertilised by droppings, called "Guano", from countless sea birds, who feed on fish plucked from the ocean, and rest and breed on the island. There is no soil or rocks there anywhere near the ocean's surface, such as we know of on land. Any soil you might see comes from sand, the guano and a compost of dead leaves and trees.

The lagoon is surrounded by a great oblong coral ring striving to grow outwards which has collapsed in the centre. Overall the reef and lagoon covers about 1,190 hectares (3,000 acres). Yachts and trawlers anchor in the lagoon after entering through the entrance which is the only deepwater access.







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