There are 3 main points for guests visiting the reef to remember:
- 70% of reef fish species are under 15cm
- The reef is a natural environment and fish are constantly looking for food in order to survive, so tides & time of day play a big part in how many fish we see in a particular location.
- Take your time, look carefully for fish & their predators (especially because 70% are small). Don’t be impatient.
Fish lead cryptic lives, are hungry and always looking for food. Therefore, wherever the food is, the fish will be. Fish do not want to expend energy by swimming far & wide to find food. They are smart & will not swim too far but will wait for the food to come to them. They do this by waiting in the right current or tide.
Tides play a massive part to where food will be. There is a better fish concentration on a low tide due to there being less room for all the fish. On a high tide you will see colorful fish (like parrotfish) on the top of the reef. Therefore when it is high tide, you should swim out to the shallow sections over the reef rather than the deeper sections. However, there are no guarantees and no real way to predict how many fish will be at the reef.
In regards to horizontal movement of water, fish will be where the current is flowing and not where the water is sheltered or still. Once again, this is because the fish can just “sit” there and eat food without much energy or need to move around and find it. The fish won’t be in the still sheltered water as they’d have to swim around too much to find food.
The lack of fish people may see at both Agincourt & Low Isles has everything to do with the tide. It has nothing to do with the health of the environment and has nothing to do with the reef being “fished out” as some people might think if they don’t see fish. All our reefs and Low Isles are in designated green zones, so no fishing is allowed.
Guests are visiting a natural environment and our research shows that people visiting our sites daily and our platforms have had a minimum effect of the marine life and environment. Fish are accustomed to the people & platform.
By snorkelling at least twice in a day you will see a marked difference in fish concentration. Eg snorkelling at 11:30am then at 2pm. Even an hour will sometimes make a difference.
As mentioned 70% of reef fish are under 15cm. Small fish are often the most colourful. Guests should not expect to see big fish especially in the shallow environments we visit (both Agincourt & Low Isles). This is why guests should sit/float/swim in the one spot for 5 minutes so they can actually take the time to see what is there and what comes out in 5 minutes.
There are 1608 species of fish on the Great Barrier Reef and a wide variety can be seen at Agincourt Reef and Low Isles.