The Squid Squad tells us about...

Green Island

Moray EelWow, Green Island is a very special place! It is one of 300 coral cays on the Great Barrier Reef, but it is the only one with a rainforest growing on it.

Did you know that Green Island is a National Park and also part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area? This means its environment is protected in many ways to make sure it remains such a special island for all the colourful marine life and birds that live there.

Billy the Squid and the Squid Squad love to visit Green Island to snorkel and hang out with their friends, especially the many turtles that live there. Because the reef around Green Island has lots of seagrass, this is great turtle food! Nemo lives here too!

Where is Green Island?

Green Island quite close to Cairns, a short boat tip of about 27 km taking about 45 minutes from the mainland. The surrounding reef is called an "inshore patch reef"'. The reef around Green Island has over 190 different types of hard corals and over 100 types of soft corals.

Oh boy, it's ancient!

Green Island is an ancient coral cay! The exact age of Green Island is unknown, but scientists think it is about 6,000 years old. Scientists know that all sand cays on the Great Barrier Reef formed since the last Ice Age, about 8,000 years ago, when low sea levels destroyed all previously existing sand cays.

Do you know how Coral (Sand) Cays are formed?

Sand cays or coral cays, are islands that form on top of existing reef structures. They are made up of large piles of sand, coral rubble, broken shells and other reef debris. Over time, wave action pushes the rubble debris into a pile on the calm side of a reef flat. If conditions are just right, this pile of rubble grows into a small sand island. Seabird droppings help cement the sand together so that it will not wash away with tides! They also provide nutrients for seeds to grow that get washed onto the island.

An island of history...

Green Island was first charted by Captain James Cook in 1770 and named not because of its lush rainforest, but after the astronomer onboard the HMS Endeavour, Charles Green. Before European settlement, Green Island was used by local aboriginal tribes as fishing grounds and was a sacred ceremonial site. The first regular day trips to Green Island started in 1924. It has an amazing history including many 'firsts', such as the world's first underwater observatory and glass bottom boat! Glass bottom boats and snorkelling are two of the most popular ways to see Green Island's reef. We hope you can come and visit us on Green Island soon!