The Great Barrier Reef is no stranger to a mesmerising display of marine creatures, but this rare sighting of a hundred cownose rays is certainly up there as the best.
Earlier this month, Lady Elliot Island Master Reef Guide Jacinta Shackleton was snorkelling off Lady Elliot Island, when she spotted a large school of cownose rays, rarely seen in the waters off this tiny coral cay on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
Shackleton said this surprising encounter took her breath away as she never expected to see such a large fever (the term used to describe this beautiful swimming formation) of this rarely encountered species.
“It looked like they were dancing in-sync across the reef,” said, Shackleton.
“I’ve been conducting research on the reef off Lady Elliot Island for three years and I’ve never seen a cownose ray before.”
She estimates there were between 80 to 110 of the magnificent marine creatures gliding through the shallows, just off the beach.
“It is one of my ‘magic moments’ on the reef where I’m just blown away by what I’m seeing and completely absorbed at that moment,” says Shackleton.
Dr Andrew Chin from the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture at James Cook University said not much is known about cownose rays in Australia.
“Because they are rarely sighted, the cownose ray is not well documented across the Great Barrier Reef or in Australian waters, so it’s fantastic to have that record from Ms Shackleton so we can try and learn more about them and their movements,” said Dr. Chin.
“The species is listed as Data Deficient by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, so we don’t really know how they’re faring from a conservation or threat point of view. We think they tend to travel in these large groups and that their appearances could be seasonal. I’d encourage anyone who comes across the distinctive cownose ray to report the sighting so that we can gather as much information as possible to better understand the species.”
Sightings of the cownose ray can be recorded via the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Eye on the Reef App.
This is Shackleton’s second extraordinary ray sighting off Lady Elliot Island in twelve months, following her encounter with an ornate eagle ray in March last year. The ornate eagle ray is so rare there had been little more than 50 sightings of the species worldwide at the time.
Mexican restaurant chain Mad Mex has dropped a new protein, and it’s one of the most popular street foods in Mexico.
Enter, Chicken Al Pastor. It’s traditionally made with pork and grilled on a spinning rotisserie with a pineapple sitting a top, but Mad Mex has put its own spin on it, serving chicken bathed in an Al Pastor marinade with a touch of juicy pineapple.
You can order the protein-packed filling in your favourite burrito, bowl, quesadilla, nachos, or in a taco.
As always, these things are here for a good time, not a long time. Pop into your local Mad Mex restaurant, order delivery or through the Mad Mex app today.