We have a few months to catch up on! February and March! As always we have had a great time out on the reef. Lots of fresh water in the sea because of the amount of rain we have had this year, from 15 metres visibility to a stunning 25+.
February was a fairly dry month, the visibility was good and the little ones are growing up. There were plenty of feather stars to see, baby reef sharks, the baby clownfish, lion fish, batfish, butterfly fish and parrot fish are all growing nicely. Once you have discovered the nudibranchs, however small they are, they stand out like extraordinary creatures.
A bit more about nudibranchs:
A nudibranch looks like a bright coloured snail with a bunch of 'plumes' on its back. Nudibranchs live in salt water, but in warm tropical salt waters they grow bigger and you can find more varieties in the tropical waters. Some nudibranchs will only ever grow to about 20mm! They breathe through the 'plumes' on their back. Their eyes are tiny and can only distinguish dark and light. Nudibranchs are carnivores, munching on for example sponges, barnacles and anemones. They are extremely colourful, sometimes this happens to be the reason why they are difficult to see as they are matching the corals, sometimes they stand out, bright and boldly coloured, warning potential predators that they might be poisonous.
The month of March brought us a lot of rain. This is part of the season, however every year we think it is worse then others. We could not go out every day because occasionally the wind picked up to an extent that a day out on the reef would not have been an enjoyable one. The Great Barrier Reef is a fragile system and the quality of corals and other reef organisms are influenced by water, its quality and temperature. As with all living organisms there is a certain amount of adaptability to changing environmental circumstances. The reef and its inhabitants have had to do a lot of adapting to changes in their environment. Their main threats are water temperature, salinity, nutrient concentrations, as well as toxicants including pesticides. We have become better educated over the last decades on how to look after the reef and the importance of this magnificent eco system. HABA is Advanced Ecotourism Certified and takes very seriously its obligation to look after the Reef for our future generations.
In 2004 HABA was invited by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to apply for an Extended Operating permit in recognition of, and reward for, its "Best Practice Marine Tourism" operation. HABA currently operates under 2 such Extended Permits.
HABA is an enthusiastic supporter of the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary. We support ecologically sustainable tourism and regularly participate in research projects to help monitor and protect the Great Barrier Reef like Eye on the Reef and COTS eradication.