The waters around this tiny island are home to some huge happenings
Julian Rocks is located within the Cape Byron Marine Park, just off the coast of Northern New South Wales, Australia. It supports amazing biodiversity and is a fantastic place to see both tropical and temperate wildlife. During the summer, manta rays circle the rocks and leopard sharks cruise up and down gullies. In the winter months it is an aggregation site for the critically endangered grey nurse shark.
As a dive site it can be pretty exposed to the elements, but luck was on our side that day – the sun was out, there was not a breath of wind and the ocean looked calm, blue and clear. I was excited to get in the water. No sooner had we rolled off the boat for our first dive and regrouped at the bottom, our guide pointed upwards. There was a beautiful green turtle eating a large jellyfish! With excitement and curiosity, we slowly ascended to watch.
Stumbling upon rarely-seen feeding behaviour is always a thrilling experience
The turtle didn’t even notice us because it was totally focused on chewing the juicy cauliflowerlike tentacles of the jellyfish, biting into them with what looked like pure enjoyment. However, its meal was suddenly interrupted by a second turtle and then a third!
It had now become crowded around the jellyfish and the turtles would use their flippers to push each other back with determination. When it needed to breathe, a turtle would tow the jellyfish to the surface with it so as not to lose its prized meal to the competition. A school of small fish that had been living amongst the jellyfish tentacles stayed loyally next to their home at all times even though it was being devoured, huddled together as far away as possible from the sharp rasping beaks of the turtles.
After watching the action for almost an hour, it was time for us to leave the water. We got back onto the dive boat feeling incredibly lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to witness natural behaviour like this.
When it needed to breathe, a turtle would tow the jellyfish to the surface so as not to lose its prized meal