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 Year 12 Marine at Lady Elliot Island

Last week 50 students and 4 staff from Xavier made the short flight from Hervey Bay to Lady Elliot Island to conduct field work, investigations and to take in the amazing marine life that inhabits this small coral cay at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. No sooner had the planes touched down and it was time to hit the water, snorkelling in the lagoon is always a favourite with sharks and lagoon rays, with dozens of green turtles also on hand for a some one on one interaction, and even a ‘shell-scratch’ or two.  The afternoon saw the students take to the western side of the island for diving and snorkelling.  With its deeper waters, coral ledges and bommies, this snorkelling site always provides exceptional marine life, and with the clear visibility and low winds on offer this year it made for an unforgettable experience over the 3 days. Reef sharks, shovel-nose rays, parrot fish and Maori Wrasse were a few of the species that were spotted, however we all know what Lady Elliot is famous for: MANTA RAYS!
This year the students were lucky enough to have the experience of swimming with these majestic giants of the sea. Manta Rays aggregate at Lady Elliot Island in the winter months to feed on plankton and can span up to 7 metres, but despite their size and daunting looks they are harmless and possess a barbless tail. Over the 3 days there were many opportunities for the students to interact with these creatures, some coming within touching distance of the snorkelers as they cruised past, mouths wide open taking in their food. I’m sure that this part of the trip will be remembered by all involved for a very long time!  Truly a world-class experience. Also during their stay on the island, students completed research for assessment tasks, including a hard coral and sea cucumber transect for Marine Studies students and interviews with LEI staff and management as part of the MAP program. Night snorkelling, night stalks, SCUBA diving and some friendly beach volleyball (teachers 1 – students 0) were some of the other activities that were packed into the 3 days. I’m sure some of the students would also speak highly of the buffet restaurant and milkshake bar which kept our waterlogged students and staff overly nourished for our stay.
 
Congratulations must go to the students who approached all activities with enthusiasm.  Their conduct and manners were of the highest standard and as staff we were constantly complimented on the behaviour these students and the positive reflection it had on the College (see email below). Specials thanks also to Mrs Gerry Glass who co-ordinated the trip which required a large amount of time and correspondence given the large size of the group.  We would like to thank Andreas and his team at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort for their friendliness and hospitality during our stay.  We look forward to continuing the relationship between LEI and Xavier in 2015.
 
‘Hello.
 
I was on lady Elliot last week when students from your school were there.  I would like to congratulate all the students who were there. Their behaviour was fantastic and a wonderful reflection of the school. Congratulations also to the teachers. I am quite sure they knew what was happening at all times. 
 
Thanks very much.
 
Jackie Gibson.’
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