Goodbye from Lizard Island

By Claudia Reidy

The time has come for our team members to say goodbye to each other, and to Lizard Island. Although the work will continue back at the museums and universities, the field trip is over.

The past three weeks have been an amazing experience for us all. The scientists have collected and examined an incredible amount, with the promise of many new species to be identified.

Some of the scientists will meet again for the next trip to Ningaloo; for some this will be a one-off CReefs experience. Ningaloo and Heron Island should be just as fascinating and share the same abundance of remarkable marine life that the waters around Lizard Island have revealed.

Julian Caley, Principal Investigator of the CReefs project, said he was very happy with the outcome of the field trip.

"We had a big group of people who didn't know each other and they all got along well and worked very well together. The scientists have sampled a lot, and sorted a lot. I can't imagine it could have gone much better," he said.

He said that due to this being the first trip, with a lot of logistics to deal with, things have "fallen into place", and he is looking forward to the next trip.

A theme among many of the scientists is the need for more study in the perhaps less popular, more obscure, marine sciences. Because so many of the scientists who specialise in these areas have reached retirement age, this is the perfect time for younger scientists to get involved with the study of animals such as bryozoans, polychaetes, isopods, tanaids, algae and octocorals.

Although Lizard Island is only one part of the Australian node of the CReefs project, the discoveries made on this field trip will be felt around the globe. The more we learn about our amazing and diverse marine life, the more knowledgeable we will be in terms of managing and protecting our oceans.

As scientist Laetitia Plaisance said, "if we don't know what's around us, how can we protect it?"

The dives have been incredible, the sea sightings breathtaking and the sunsets majestic. This beautiful island, home to such amazing marine life, will be missed by all.

It is time to bid you farewell. The labs are packed up, the bags are zipped up and the 12-seater plane awaits.

Until Ningaloo…
From Claudia Reidy, AIMS' Lizard Island Field Survey journalist