Home' Traveller : Scoop Traveller WA 021 Contents 70 Scoop Traveller January - June 2012
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One of the world’s most remote
and pristine marine areas, these
islands are revered by divers
Considered to be the most perfectly formed
shelf atolls in Australian waters, the Rowley
Shoals’ three remote pear-shaped coral atolls
are 260km west-north-west of Broome. It
takes approximately 12 hours to get to the
Rowley Shoals Marine Park, with its untouched
coral gardens, amazingly diverse marine life
and clear shallow sheltered lagoons. The sea
life here is more characteristic of south-east
Asia, with some species found nowhere else on
earth. Access is by private or licensed charter
boat departing from Broome. The three atoll-lie
coral reefs are Mermaid Reef, Clerke Reef and
Coordinates: 17°35’43”S 118°57’58”E
Nature lovers can see an exceptional 233 species
of coral and 688 species of fish amidst an abundance
of species rarely seen in other WA diving locations,
or elsewhere in the world.
For birdwatchers, this is an important resting site
for migratory birds and sea birds. Bedwell Island,
in Clerke Reef, is also home to rare red-tailed
tropicbirds. You’ll also find at least 13 species of
larger marine animals.
Fishing is permitted outside sanctuary zones,
such as the Mermaid Reef Marine National
Nature Reserve. It is recommended not to walk
on the sand bays, because the reef is fragile and
can be easily damaged.
Popular dive sites can be found around Clerke
Reef, which provides a safe sheltered mooring
within the lagoon, and include the channel dive,
where divers get pushed by a strong current from
the lagoon to the outer reef. Other popular dives on
the reef include The Wall.
What to do
The Rowley Shoals boast
more than 200 species of coral
(Photography Nigel Gaunt).
Fishing the Buccaneer Archipelago
(Photography Simon McBeth).
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