There are many continental islands offshore of Mackay, but the main outer reefs are The Swain Reefs – a large collection of small, tightly packed reefs which provide great opportunities for line fishing. Most are unnamed and simply carry the GBRMPA’s listing number such as ‘21-114’; many have a tiny coral cay at their centre, just a few tens of metres across.
Six of the largest, known as the Swains Reef Cays are protected by National Park zoning as they form part of important turtle and seabird breeding and nesting habitats. A quarter of all known loggerhead turtle nesting in Queensland takes place on those few cays.
The Swains Reef Cays are also important breeding sites for many species of tern, noddy and booby, as well as foraging sites for the black noddy and shearwater birds. It’s amazing how much environmental significance can be concentrated into such a small area.
Snorkel and dive sites
Read our blog, Best places to snorkel and dive in the Mackay Region to find out about some of the region's snorkel and dive sites.