Marine Life

Frankland Islands Marine Park

Teeming with vibrant marine life

There are many underwater characters that call the Frankland Islands home. We’ve compiled a list of commonly found marine life that you may get to see on your day out with Frankland Islands, so you can be better prepared when you see them face to face!

During our Guided Island Walks and Guided Snorkel Tours, our marine guides will make sure to show you the best places to spot underwater creatures and rockpool inhabitants, including Anemonefish, Green Turtles, Giant Clams and Spider Conch snails.

Some of our marine inhabitants are seasonal visitors, like the majestic manta rays and humpback whales. You can learn about the best time to plan your visit from our travel guide article about the different seasons of the Great Barrier Reef if you want to see these island guests.


Creatures and critters of Frankland Islands

Pristine islands & fringing reefs​ full of marine life

Clownfish (Nemo) on the Great Barrier Reef - Frankland Island
Anemones and Clownfish

Anemonefish, more commonly known as Clownfish, and sea anemones have a unique symbiotic interaction. The fish are impervious to the anemone’s tentacles’ sting, which gives them a unique safe haven from predators.

The clownfish helps the anemone in exchange for this safe haven by luring in other fish and shrimp, which are then stung and consumed by the anemone. Frankland Islands is home to two rare jewel-blue anemones containing clownfish, which you can see right off the beaches on the north and west sides of Normanby Island.

Sea Turtles

The waters of the Great Barrier Reef are home to six of the world’s seven sea turtle species. The islands are home to the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) which We see on almost every trip! Snorkelling with sea turtles is an amazing experience, floating alongside them as they swim and feed.

Manta Rays

The name ‘Manta,’ which means blanket or cloak in Spanish, is given to these large, flat, and uniquely shaped fish because of their striking look. The Manta Ray may be found across the Great Barrier Reef and is among the world’s largest fish, measuring up to 7 metres in length from wingtip to wingtip. Despite their massive size, manta rays eat minuscule plankton, the tiniest animals in the ocean. Manta rays, unlike other rays, lack a stinging barb and are therefore completely harmless to people.

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Giant Clam

The giant clam, the largest aquatic mollusc on Earth weighing up to 200 kilograms and over a metre long. These organisms, which may be found all throughout the Great Barrier Reef, have two hard shells that protect soft tissue within that filters nutrients from seawater. Giant Clams are the only invertebrate listed among the Great 8 species, and can live to be over 100 years old!

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Coral may look like a rock or plant, but it’s actually a type of animal! Coral is made up of tiny but mighty coral polyps. Each polyp is typically a couple of millimetres in diameter and is closely related to sea anemones and jellyfish.

As the polyps grow, they secrete calcium carbonate, also known as limestone, forming a hard skeleton, and building a coral reef structure.

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Brittle Stars

Brittle stars may look like starfish, but they’re not! Although brittle stars and starfish are closely related, as they’re both echinoderms, they are different species.

Each brittle star has a distinct central disk and five skinny, flexible arms. The central disk is made up of calcium carbonate and contains all their internal organs. If in danger, brittle stars can ‘drop’ one or more arms to escape predators. As long as a brittle star has its central disk, it can function and regenerate any lost limbs.

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Red Lionfish

The gorgeous Lionfish are native to the Great Barrier Reef. The 13 long fins that extend from their spine are venomous and used to deter predators. To humans, a lionfish sting is painful but fortunately, while unpleasant, is not fatal.

Unfortunately, Lionfish have become an invasive species in North American waters, likely due to irresponsible aquarium owners releasing them directly into the Atlantic Ocean.

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You’re definitely going to see Damselfish at Frankland Islands – they’re everywhere! Damselfish are plankton feeders. They have extendable mouths that shoot out to catch food. They stay close to the coral and are often in schools so they can spot predators and hide in the corals.

Wherever you see damselfish, you may see the predator fish that want to eat them… Sitting very still and camouflaged, waiting patiently.

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Sea Cucumbers

There are about 1,500 species of sea cucumbers that come in a variety of colours, shapes, and sizes. They can be from less than an inch to several feet in length. Sea cucumbers are echinoderms, meaning they are related to starfish, sea urchins, and sand dollars.

Sea cucumbers have a surprising defence mechanism, where they expel their internal organs if they feel threatened. This process is called evisceration, and once the organs are discharged, the sea cucumber can regenerate them.

Cameron, Sept 2023 (Google Reviews)

Could not have been happier with our day. Great guides, easy down river trip and across to the island with stunning views. The island itself was beautiful and incredibly isolated, it was a small personal tour that was highly enjoyable. You should definitely do the guided snorkel tour if you do the day trip

Briony, August 2023 (Google Reviews)

Perfection! Having the option of semi sub tour, sup, snorkelling on your own, snorkel safari in group, island tour, beautiful lunch and an ideallic island setting is superb for a family wanting to explore Great Barrier reef and not be stuck on a boat the whole day. Swimming above coral, colourful marine life, fish and swam with turtles! Would love to go again! Thank you crew we have wonderful memories.

Farima, July 2023 (Google Reviews)

It was am amazing experience! I got picked up by a coach in the morning, the coach was well ventilated, drove for about an hour in that until we hour to the ferry. The boat trip was about an hour long too where I saw beautiful sights of nature! They provided free drinks and snacks both ways in the ferry and lunch was also included in the island! They can provide something for every dietary requirement, including vegan.

Andree, August 2023 (Google Reviews)

What a hidden gem this tour was. Beautiful island, river cruise and great reef. Nice small group. Had the island to ourselves. Knowledgeable, friendly crew. Fabulous value. Will definitely be recommending this trip.

Eleanor, August 2023 (Google Reviews)

Highlight of the holiday!! Can’t recommend enough: we were picked up outside our hotel in the morning, drove to the boat where we had a great trip down the Mulgrave river before another 30 min on the sea and we arrived at the island. Variety of activities available from free snorkelling in a watched boundary and a snorkel tour a bit further out, to a semi-submersible and rainforest island tour where you can see in rock pools. The semi-sub was a little murky so if you enjoyed the snorkelling tour, I’d carry on on your own, as it’s what you saw before, but less clear, but if you’re not comfortable snorkeling, then it’s a great alternative to see the corals.

Kate, August 2023 (Google Reviews)

Excellent day tour to a great little island. Crew were wonderful and provided an overall fabulous experience. Suitable for most all ages/abilities and can do as much or as little as you like. Highly recommend.

Natalie, June 2023 (Google Reviews)
We had a fantastic day out. Both snorkeling off the beach or through snorkeling safari are amazing. Lots of fish and good to see many healthy vibrant corals. The whole crew has been very helpful. It is a perfect trip for the whole family even for little kids.
Cindy, Oct 2023 (Tripadvisor)

Very well organized. Staff was amazing!! Something for everyone. You had your choice of snorkeling, glass bottom boat, kayaks, sup, guided nature walk ( totally amazing and interesting!) and there was even a treasure hunt for young kids. Food and snacks were great as well! Highly recommend!

Lorna, Aug 2023 (Google Reviews)

Had a great day out on Frankland Island Reef Cruises. You can do as much or as little as you want on the island so perfect if you want to snorkel and spend lots of time in the water or just sit on the beach in the sun listening to the birds. The boat trip over is pretty short so good if boat travel isn’t your thing. Semi-sub trip is great if you are not a confident swimmer or fan of snorkeling. The information is interesting and while not crystal clear its a good reminder the reef can survive & flourish but we can do lots to help in our everyday life. Loads of food for lunch and afternoon cheese & biscuits was a great way to finish off the day. Highly recommend this trip

Karen, Sept 2023 (Tripadvisor)

We can throughly recommend this small, relaxed all-inclusive reef tour.
The crew were amazing, the snorkel safari the best we’ve ever been on in clear, calm waters seeing beautiful corals, fish and turtles close up. Semi sub tour of the island, guided walk, use of paddle boards and kayaks and amazing food all included. A really great day out.
Thanks to all the crew. You worked so hard all day and were fun, helpful, friendly and very informative.
Thank you

Alison, Aug 2023 (Tripadvisor)

What an amazing day out in frankland Island.
Would highly recommended this trip – one of the best snorkelling I’ve done and its guided. if your not the best swimmer you can just walk straight into the crystal clear water and still see lots of amazing stuff.
The submarine was brilliant, got to see loads.
The island walk was very educational and saw some very unique things.
Great staff, great food. Overall amazing day out would highly recommend 🙂

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