June: Leopards And Tigers Have Been Spotted On Fraser!

Note the distinctive rippling of the aptly named Tiger Squid
Marine life by night can be an amazing and with the waters of the Great Sandy Strait lapping at the Kingfisher Bay’s western beach (on the lee side of Fraser Island), we’ve got ourselves some prime real estate for spotting passing wildlife.

As night falls on Fraser Island, some of our more reclusive marine locals, like the Pencil and Tiger Squid, (pictured right - pic courtesy of flickriver.com) swim into the limelight.  As their names suggest,  Pencil Squid are long and thin; whilst the ‘Tigers’ are fatter and display a striking striped pattern across their backs.

Technically Squids are Molluscs but, unlike other Molluscs, they belong to a subgroup of Cephalopods that also includes Octopus and Cuttlefish.  Basically it means they’ve got an ink sac and they don’t have external shells.  What we find fascinating about these little creatures is the way they communicate.  They have the ability to rapidly change their colour from hunting mode (that’s one where they completely blend into the surrounding environment) to brilliant red (which signals alarm) – this inadvertently happens when our Resort Ranger’s spotlight surprises them on our guided night walks. 

Interestingly, some species of squid can also change their texture to blend in with the surrounding environment!

Closer to the shoreline, graceful Rays are often seen gliding in amongst the shallows. We’ve spotted several species over the past month, including the Leopard Ray.  These Rays differ from the regular estuary species as they have a pattern of white rosettes spread over a brown or black background.  Their dapples mimic the camouflage of their namesake – Leopards - as they glide majestically over the white sands of the bay.

The end of the Mullet run on Fraser Island has also heralded the appearance of our local pod of Indo-Pacific Humpbacks Dolphins – just around the time guests head to Kingfisher’s famous Jetty Hut for sunset drinks and a platter (FYI sunset is around 1705 at the moment). 

Two dolphin calves have been born this season to our regular pod. We’ve also spotted three to four adults of mixed ages entrenched in the group alongside old ‘Whitey’ - a large adult that displays the unique bleaching that comes with old age in dolphins. Usually shy and reclusive - unlike their Indo-Pacific Bottlenose counterparts - we have found our Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin mates are more than happy to add their own unique magic to the Fraser Island sunset experience.

Until later this month, this is Ranger Amelia signing off (and heading out for a guided canoe paddle to Dundonga Creek mangrove colony).