Lizard Island is an island on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of Cairns, Australia, and part of the Lizard Island Group that also includes Palfrey Island. It is part of the Lizard Island National Park.
“More than half of Lizard Island is covered in grasslands. Eucalyptus and acacia woodlands, heaths, paperbark swamps and mangroves are also found there. The island’s best-known animal is a lizard — the yellow-spotted monitor Varanus panoptes. Lieutenant James Cook named the island for this lizard during his exploration of the east coast of Australia in 1770. More than 40 species of birds inhabit the island group. Seabird Islets and Osprey, South and Palfrey islands are important nesting sites, particularly for terns.
“The islands are rich in cultural meaning for the Dingaal Aboriginal people and contain sacred sites including initiation, ceremonial and story sites. Shell middens, which provide evidence of long-ago feasting on clams, oysters, spider shells and trochus shells, are found on the islands. Lizard Island also has a rich heritage associated with the earliest European exploration of the coast and subsequent settlement. Today the islands are a popular tourism destination and the base for world-renowned tropical marine research.” — https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/lizard-island/about.html
James Cook, captain of the HMS Endeavour from 1768-1771, discovered Lizard Island, which he named for the lizards on the island.
Another Cook expedition member, Joseph Banks, in his HMS Endeavour journal, dated 12th August 1770, wrote: “Great Part of yesterday and all this morn till the boat returned I employd in searching the Island [Lizard Is.]. On it I found some few plants which I had not seen before; the Island itself was small and Barren; on it was however one small tract of woodland which abounded very much with large Lizzards some of which I took. Distant as this Isle was from the main, the Indians had been here in their poor embarkations, sure sign that some part of the year must have very settled fine weather; we saw 7 or 8 frames of their huts and vast piles of shells the fish of which had I suppose been their food.”
The Lizard Island Research Station is a facility of the Australian Museum and is internationally recognized as the major island-based research facility on the Great Barrier Reef. It attracts coral reef researchers from all around the world – with approximately 100 research projects conducted annually. Since its opening in 1973 there have been more than 1,200 scientific publications produced by Australian and international researchers as a result of work undertaking at the facility. Eighteen of us were very fortunate to be able to take a long Zodiac ride from our ship, anchored well off Lizard Island (for a wet landing on the beach), and get a two-hour tour of the Research Station led by one of the two directors of the station, a marine biologist who has lived at the LIRS for 30 years..
“The crown-of-thorns seastar, Acanthaster planci, is a large starfish that preys upon hard, or stony, coral polyps. The crown-of-thorns starfish receives its name from venomous thorn-like spines that cover its upper surface, resembling the biblical crown of thorns. It is one of the largest starfish in the world.” – Wikipedia
Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2020 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.