As July draws to a close, Sand Island Beach plays host to another week of exceptional circumstances.
Last Tuesday, guests noticed that Kimmel – our black lab who can usually be found digging feverishly for crabs on the beach – appeared particularly excitable. Upon closer inspection – and to their bewilderment - a tiny turtle was discovered clamped gently between her jaws. As he was released and began scuttling frantically to the seafront, a patch of sand seemed to begin to boil to the guests’ wide-eyed astonishment. In 0 to 60, a nest-load of 80 turtle hatchlings had exploded and was heading for the high-tide mark, their focus championed by our guests’ cheers of encouragement. The determination of these minute creatures is astounding, and it’s even more incredible to know that once they are fully grown, the turtles’ inbuilt GPS system will have them heading directly back to this exact beach to lay their own eggs.
Over the weekend, we had much bigger things (literally) to preoccupy ourselves with - humpback whales. Two of these enormous mammals were seen gamboling just beyond the reef, breaching several times and causing great, thunderous splashes as their tails flipped in and out of the water. Their arrival kicks the breeding season off with a tremendous display of flirting. While they showed off, surprisingly graceful for their 66,000 lbs. body weight, we watched from our verandahs, enjoying cold Tuskers and marveling at such an unbelievable view.
To top off a week of surprises, a little pipefish was spotted by a guest snorkeling among the Mushroom Rocks to the left of the sand island. Just like their relatives, seahorses, the male pipefish carries the babies which are born whilst still attached to the male. The guest, who had not been at Sand Island for a couple of years, remarked on how encouraging it was to see the positive changes along the reef. We hope that the introduction of seaweed and soft coral will help replenish our reef, attracting species such as seahorses, pipefish, sea anemones and the long-lost clown fish (the real-life mission to Find Nemo).
The Star Fish Gardens continue to be a favourite trip for adults and children, but we would also suggest swimming a little deeper out of your comfort zone to explore the fascinations that conceal themselves amid the coral heads.