The fringing reef surrounding Heron Island becomes exposed in low tide and visitors can walk out to see the marine life without a snorkel.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    The view from the deck of the Heron Island Resort, looking east.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    The an abandoned naval vessel was towed to Heron Island in the 1940s and its wreck used as a breakwater. It’s one of the first things you see when Heron Island looms near.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    Heron Island is a nesting ground for green and loggerhead turtles. In the peak season, hundreds of green turtles may haul themselves up the beach to lay their eggs. Once the laying process has begun, it’s safe to shine a light to see the eggs drop.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    The crystal clear and shallow waters surrounding Heron Island make for ideal snorkelling. You can see rays, reef sharks, turtles, fish and coral just a few feet from the beach.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    There is fantastic snorkelling right form the beaches of Heron Island. Within metres of the beach you can spot rays, reef sharks, schools of fish and turtles.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    The aqua waters of Heron Island are so crystal clear that you can spot schools of fish, rays and sharks right from the jetty.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    Heron Island is a favourite reef location of Sir David Attenborough’s. In November 2014 he was on location there to film a new series on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    Heron island is just 800m long and has pristine white sand, which green turtles love to bury their eggs in.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    The tides around Heron Island are large and can send the water out hundreds of meters, revealing shallow water and marine life such as cone snails.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    A brown-spotted sea cucumber (Stichopus variegatus). Its form took on the mould of a hand, which you can see when it’sĀ  turned over.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    Heron is home to a plethora of marine species, including many types of starfish, which can be found right off the beach.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    A ‘burnt sausage’ sea cucumber, found in the shallow fringing reefs of Heron Island.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    The water around Heron Island is so clear that at low tide you can spot clams and other marine life, just by wading through the reef.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    The view of Heron Island as you approach via the transport channel.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    A blue linckia starfish (Linckia laevigata).

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    Sunset on Heron Island.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    Twilight at Heron IslandĀ  with the moon makes for a lovely scene. Dozens of black noddies fill the skies.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    A school of strawberry hussar at Heron Island.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    Heron Island isa named for these birds, thought to be herons. However, they turned out to be eastern reef egrets.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    The white-capped black noddy tern. These are a common species seen on Heron Island, particularly in nesting seaon, where they nest in their tens of thousands on the pisonia trees.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    This dip in the sand is an attempted turtle nest. Green and loggerhead turtles come to Heron Island to lay their eggs. Nesting turtles will sometimes almost complete a nest before abandoning the process because it’s not quite right. Those reasons can be: the sand is too dry, she hits tree roots, it’s to near another nest, or she just doesn’t like it.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    Heron Island easter reef egrets, which were once thought to be herons, for which the island was named.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    Heron Island is surrounded by pristine white sands and aqua waters.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    A cowtail ray swims along the shallows of Heron Island.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

    The water around Heron Island is crystal clear.

    Photo Credit: Carolyn Barry/Australian Geographic

Heron Island: Queensland’s tropical paradise

By AG STAFF | June 12, 2015

Heron Island may be small, but it’s 11x5km reef is home to 60 per cent of fish species and 70 per cent of coral species found in the Great Barrier Reef. It’s also a nesting site for green and loggerhead turtles, as well as tens of thousands of sea birds.