this page you have the marine animals in the waters of Cape York.
take your fishing boat out to the ocean or the reef, there are plenty
of chances to spot whales
and dolphins, dugongs, sharks, and large marine turtles.
There are also plenty of
less visible animals such as
jellyfish, crayfish, giant clams, sea cucumbers, sponges, mollusks,
cone shells, sea snakes, crabs (e.g. soldier
crabs), fish, and all sorts of other coral reef animals.
Most of Australia's
animals live in the water, not on the land.
by flickkerphotos via Flickr.com
Whales We don't
have as many humpback whales as southern and central Queensland, but we
have six other species of whales
- Bryde's whale, dwarf minke whale, sperm whale, blue whale, short
finned pilot, and orka killer whale.
Many whales are seasonal.
by jeffk42 via Flickr.com
Eastern Australian Dolphins
We also have six species of dolphins
- bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, spinner dolphin, striped dolphin,
humpback dolphin and Australian snubfin dolphin.
Dolphins are easier to
spot and they are not seasonal.
by Joel Abroad via Flickr.com
Animals - Dugongs
We also have dugongs
- marine animals that are also called sea cows, because they eat sea
grass at the bottom of the ocean.
They are found in the oceans around
the coasts of northern half of Australia, as well as south east Asia
and parts of Africa.
We have four species of freshwater
turtles, and five species of large marine turtles
in the waters around Cape York peninsula.
Freshwater turtles are easier
to spot, marine turtles are a lot larger.
We are lucky to not to have the great white shark that is responsible
for most human deaths by Australian sharks.
But we have bull
shark and tiger shark - both killers;
other species of harmless reef sharks.
In the tropical waters of northern Australia, we have many different
species of jellyfish,
most are not dangerous marine animals, but some are, and the dangerous
include irukandji, and box jellyfish - known as the most poisonous
on the Earth.
Australian whales are found in Cape York.
the most popular with
watchers - right whales
only found in the southern, cool waters, and equally popular - humpback whales -
further north than Cairns
and Port Douglas
not even that, so the sightings are much rarer up here, than further
the coast of Queensland).
But we have other whales amongst our marine
We have blue, sperm, killer and pilot whale, and our most common ones to see are
and dwarf minke
have some similarities in the looks. They have similarly shaped dorsal
fin - a body part that is often visible. The difference is that brydes
is grey while dwarf minke is black (on the upper side of the body -
both have lighter coloured belly).
Dwarf Minke by travisd via Flickr.com
Brydes by tim ellis via Flickr.com
Blue and Sperm Whale
Blue and Sperm are less common to see but easy to recognise from the
typical look of the raised tail. Sperm whale's can be lifted higher as
it dives deeper (deepest of all Australian whales). Blue is the
by Heather and Mike via Flickr.com
Sperm Whale by doublebug via Flickr.com
Pilot Whale and Orca
Pilot and Orca also are less common north eastern Australian
see and have similar looks,
mainly the similarly shaped heads and dorsal fins that are a
little round (not as sharp in the tip as Minke's and Brydes'). Pilot is
mostly black while orca killer whale has white patches.
Pilot by Javier Delgado Esteban via Flickr
Orca Killer Whale by Bugsy Sailor via Flickr
Australian dolphins are found in Cape York.
six species of dolphins
and in the waters around Cape York, we have them all.
They are easier to spot than whales, they are not seasonal like whales,
they come much closer to the coast than whales.
They are incredibly curious and friendly marine
animals and they often come and check your boat out and even
it. Bottlenose Dolphin is the
of all Australian dolphins and also the best known one for that reason.
It lives in all Australian waters.
Bottlenose Dolphin by gr8dnes via
Also common is the Common
that likes to follow boats
and swim right in front of the boats. It is also found in all
Australian waters including Cape York. It is easy to recognise from the
yellow patches on both
sides of its
Dolphin by ecotist via Flickr.com
Striped Dolphin has
stripes on both
sides of its body.
It is the third most common Australian dolphin, found along all the
except the waters outside Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and south
eastern Western Australia.
Javier Delgado Esteban via Flickr.com
Spinner Dolphin has a
dark stripe from
the end of the eye to the start of the flipper. It has a
smaller distribution along the coasts of northern
about Geraldton in the
Newcastle on the east coast of Australia.
Dolphin by Na
Pali Riders via Flickr.com Humpback Dolphin has a
low dorsal fin that looks like a hump,
and its body is brownish grey. It is found all the way around the
coasts of northern Australia between Sydney in the east and Shark Bay
in the west.
Dolphin by Blue Dolphin Marine Tours via Flickr.com
Australian Snubfin Dolphin is the
with a round head and no beak,
and it is only found in Australia. Even in Australia it has the
smallest distribution - between Brisbane in the east and Broome in the
two dangerous Australian sharks in Cape York.
be swimming in
the ocean waters up here in the first place because of crocodiles.
But yes, out of the 180-ish species of sharks found in Australian
waters, two dangerous
species are found in the ocean waters up here. Both are found around all the
coasts of Cape York, and both come close
to the coasts to the shallow water.
Tiger shark by
Willy Volk via Flickr.com Tiger Shark is
statistically responsible for more fatalities, however Bull Shark
is known to be one of the most aggressive Australian sharks, and it
also comes up to the coast and even into the rivers,
because it can tolerate brackish and fresh water.
Both are fatal marine
Bull shark by
pterantula via Flickr.com
Just because we don't have the
Great White shark here, does not mean you are safe from sharks in the
Add the crocs
and the jellyfish
to the picture, and you sure know you
are best off keeping out of the ocean.
Australian jellyfish is very poisonous.
many different types
of jellyfish in Australia.
Some are found in cold waters, others in warm waters, some are totally
harmless but a few are
While there are some stingy ones even in the southern waters of
the most poisonous ones
tend to live
in the northern, warmer waters.
They are found along the
north-western and north-eastern
coasts, and because Queensland is more populated than
Territory and Western
Australia, they have made the beaches
of Queensland famous for their 'uselessness'. Of
and sharks are
present here too, but they are bigger anmals that you can at least
Australian jellyfish are
mostly present during the Wet
Season - roughly between October and May - but the further
north the more frequent they are, and some have
reported any time of the year.
Australian jellyfish deaths are very real and definitely more frequent
Every few years they kill someone (often a kid), so they are
seriously dangerous marine
There are at least six different types of Australian jellyfish up in
Blubber is a
mushroom-shaped jellyfish with no tentacles that only causes minor
irritation and is treated with cold packs.
has a large bell and hairy tentacles up to almost a metre long. It
usually only causes minor skin burning, but occasionally more severe.
It is treated with cold packs.
or Moreton Bay Stinger,
is a large, box shaped jellyfish with four thick tentacles - one in
each corner of the bell. It causes itchy, burning pain, and leaves pink
or red marks on the skin. The stings are treated with vinegar and cold
aka Portuguese Man of War,
has an air filled sack rather than a bell or box shaped body. Its body
is blue and it has one blue tentacle, about a metre long (but can be up
to 30!). Its sting
causes burning pain, and sometimes breathing difficulty. It is treated
with salt water, hot water and cold packs - no vinegar.
is a very small jellyfish with a box shaped body and four, up to a
metre long tentacles. It is transparent and because it is also small,
it is almost impossible to see. Its sting is often initially not even
noticed, but about 30min later severe sympthoms arise, such as nausea,
sweating, muscle cramps, backache and anxiety. This is a serious
stinger and medical aid has to be seeked immediately. Meanwhile, the
sting is treated with vinegar.
is famously the most poisonous creature in the world. It has a large
box sized body with four tentacles, one in each corner of the bell. The
tentacles can be up to three metres long. Its sting has been described
as the most painful thing victims have ever experienced. The tentacles
leave burning marks on the skin. The victim may stop breathing and
loses conciousness. Ambulance has to be called immediately. Meanwhile,
the sting is treated with vinegar.
As you saw the most common jellyfish treatment is cold packs and vinegar.
bottles of vinegar everywhere on the beaches where stingers are
are applied for 10 minutes at the time, but reapplied if symphtoms
is definitely needed with Box Jellyfish and Irukandji. With others,
only if symphoms persist.
There are stinger nets
the stinger months on the more popular beaches in northern Australia.
These beaches are also watched by life savers.
Stinger nets decrease the risks, however they don't provide 100%
Irukandji is small enough to come through these nets. Box Jellyfish
tentacles can come through them.
You can wear a stinger suit which still leaves your hands and face in
danger, but is definitely a pretty good protection for the rest of your
wear a stinger suit,
still leaves your hands and face in
danger, but is definitely a pretty good protection for the rest of your
The best protection is
not to swim in the ocean.
Personally I think why bother with all this (plus killer sharks and
crocodiles), when there are beautiful
freshwater swimming holes everywhere in north Queensland, including
Cape York :-)
less known marine animals, heard about soldier crabs?
walked on the beach and
saw lots and lots of tiny
moving around together?
I did. I usually know about things like this but it happened to me that
I wondered what they were.
Well, they are soldier
around in an 'army'! I think
they look so cool as
Different from Other Crabs
a few other things
that make them different from other crabs.
* They walk forwards,
sideways like most other crabs.
(most other crabs
* Their bodies are round, almost spherical
while most other crabs have flattened bodies
Their tiny bodies, only 25mm in diametre, are on long jointed legs, and
they they hold their claws vertically.
Active at Low Tide
The reason why they have the
obviously that they spend a fair bit more time out of the water than
the other, aquatic crabs.
(mind you, they have gills too, however most of the time they use their
They live on tidal
often near river estuaries and mangrove
At low tide,
they emerge from
their burrows and join to large 'armies' that can be as large as
thousands of individuals. As the
starts coming in, they start burrowing holes to spend the high tide in the
burrows under the
They also burrow themselves into the sand when threatened.
When burrowing, they spiral themselves into the sand, and they carry
air bubbles with them. They also leave cavities for the air to get into
Their deepest burrows can be at a half a metre's depth, and they may
spend some time entirely under the water (which is when they use gills).
What Do They Eat?
walk in armies, they
walk to wetter sands closer
to the water,
They eat detritus
by scooping in the sand, sucking out the organic material, and then
spitting out the rest of the sand in round pellets.
They also eat tiny microorganisms in the sand, but mostly they are scavengers so they
are good in that
they clean the beach up from small dead animal and plant material.
Who Eats Them?
that they spend
most of their time either in burrows or on the ground (and not in the
water like aquatic crabs), saves
from most aquatic predators like fish.
The main predators of soldier crabs are birds like ibis,
heron, egret and
some kingfishers, but also some other crabs,
and fish if
they do find
themselves in the water.
Like with other animals that flock, their grouping habit acts
because it makes it harder to see an individual and so confuses predators.
Even if it makes the predator a little slower on catching it gives the
crabs more time to burrow themselves.
Soldier Crabs are found in eastern
Indian Ocean and western Pacific, from Bay of Bengal in
north to Australia in the south.
They are most common in eastern Australia and mostly north Queensland,
but are found as far south and west as Perth and Tasmania.
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You get to make early-stages desicions such as when to go, how long time you
should take, how to get
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to stay (general info), what
will it cost..
and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.
This complete 300 pages
travel guide is all you need before and during your trip. Besides the
background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks, at least 30 guaranteed FREE camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to the Cape), at least 40 best swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things - from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception, how to deal with the national parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery gear by my partner Mark who is the recovery guy on northern Cape York and the Old Telegraph Track). Not to mention locals' tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)
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