French scientist soaking up rays while living on Lady Elliot

"AS soon as you put your head under the water, it's just breathtaking," says marine biologist Fabrice Jaine.

Fabrice is living the dream.

He grew up on the French Mediterranean, which to most people would seem like perfection.

But he has travelled halfway around the world to live and work on the Great Barrier Reef.

There is a very special, perhaps even obscure reason why Lady Elliot is perfect for Fabrice.

He recently completed a PhD on manta rays, and when it comes to manta rays, Lady Elliot is a Mecca.

"We've done a bit of research on it and what came out of it was that this is one of the best places to see mantra rays on the east coast of Australia," he said.

"Lady Elliott has just been ranked in the top 5 places to dive in the world, and that is especially with regards to mantra rays.

"It is one of those amazing places where they will come and they will spend time around the reef here.

"There are (also) three species of turtles, beautiful diversity of fish, sharks, a (ship) wreck for diving off, big deep reef walls with a lot of underwater caves."

Fabrice doesn't plan on leaving any time soon.

Fabrice Jaine guiding a Snorkelling group off Lady Elliot Island, Southern Great Barrier Reef.
Fabrice Jaine guiding a Snorkelling group off Lady Elliot Island, Southern Great Barrier Reef. David Sparkes

Manta rays are not as famous as other big creatures of the ocean, but they are every bit as majestic.

On the Great Barrier Reef, they grow up to five metres across.

After the floods of late January this year, there has been concern in Queensland about the impact on marine life along the Coast, but on Lady Elliot Island the floods actually had a positive impact.

"A couple of days after the floods we actually had about 150 manta rays that showed up at the site," Fabrice said.

"That was something pretty special."

"There was a burst of food (caused by the floods) around the reef here, so the manta rays congregated around the reef to make the most of it.

"It was pretty amazing."


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Topics:  australia france great barrier reef lady elliot island travel

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