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Michaelmas Cay is situated 40 km north-east of Cairns, Queensland.
It is the largest significant nesting site for thousands of seabirds and the only rookery supporting breeding populations of sooty terns and common noddies.
The Cay is situated within the Great Barrier Reef Marine National Park and has been zoned Green.
Public Access to the Cay is only permitted from 9.30am to 3pm on the same day and only within the roped off area on the northern side of the Cay.
This Earthcache is aimed at Michaelmas Cay itself and the significance of its structure. There are of course many benefits that come from this Cay forming on the reef.
A Cay can be described as a small, low island, usually sandy situated on a Coral reef platform. Sand cays are usually formed on the edge of the coral platform, opposite the direction of the prevailing winds. Coral sand is deposited on the top of the reef at high tide and builds up over time, stabilising and becoming a significant structure. Cays tend to form elongated shapes but will change over time due to weather and erosion. The forecast for global warming in the future holds grave fears for many coral cays such as Michaelmas, as they only extend a few metres above the high tide mark and may disappear over time, taking away important seabird rookeries and eco systems.
Some Cay’s may also become vegetated by the transfer of plant material and seeds from seabird droppings. Michaelmas Cay has become quite lush with vegetation above the high tide mark and is a large rookery for seabirds.
Michaelmas Cay is visited by thousands of local and overseas visitors every year and with well managed visiting restrictions and careful monitoring by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the area has been preserved in its natural state.
Access onto the Cay itself must only be from the northern side and signage indicates that you must remain behind the roped off area at all times.
The Michaelmas Cay Marine National Park is a ‘Green Zone’ meaning that it is a ‘No Take’ area and activities such as fishing or collecting are not allowed without written permission. Anyone can enter a Green Zone and participate in activities such as boating, swimming, snorkelling and sailing. Anchoring is also allowed in a Green Zone, however use of public moorings is required at Michaelmas Cay.
To enjoy this Earthcache we would recommend that you make your way to the Cay by whatever means is the most practical.
On a good day you will be blessed with clear water, excellent swimming conditions, reef and bird life that will surely amaze.
To Log this Earthcache, after you have enjoyed yourself with swimming and snorkelling head up to the co-ordinates listed and you will find 2 signs. From these signs please answer the following questions and email them to me for logging approval.
URGENT FEB 2011 Update: The Signs have been damaged by the recent Cyclone YASI and this will make answering the questions difficult. Instead we will accept a picture of you and the roped off area of the Cay as logging evidence. Add your GPSr in the picture for an added bonus. Thanks!
Michaelmas Cay has been formed entirely by........... and .............. (Two answers)?
What has accumulated in the lee of Michaelmas Reef to form the Cay?
Research records from mid to late 1980’s show up to .................... pairs of seabirds breeding on Michaelmas Cay.
What is the name of the smaller Cay approx 10 km south-west of Michaelmas Cay?
A few comments and pictures of your visit to Michaelmas Cay would be appreciated by those who are yet to visit.
Now go back and enjoy the sand and the sea.
Oevat lbhe Pnzren, Fhafperra naq n Ung.