Saxon Reef is a beautiful patch reef on the Outer Barrier Reef. It is approximately 55km Northeast of Cairns with a marine ecosystem bursting with everything Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is famous.
Nestled between the larger and more prominent Hastings Reef and Norman Reef – Saxon Reef is a slice of paradise for those lucky enough to visit.
Smaller reefs attract oceanic currents that with them bring diverse and dense life. Microscopic plankton and algae flow through Saxon Reef in abundance which brings schools of smaller fish. Smaller fish bring larger fish and marine mammals.
Saxon Reef and its surrounding area were awarded the status of ‘Green Zone’, within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park protection from fishing, in 2003.
This status made the area a haven for aquatic creatures and a habitat for endangered species such as Maori wrasse, barramundi cod and in particular, green sea turtles. You may also encounter white-tip reef sharks, diagonally-banded sweetlips, barramundi cod, dozens of species of wrasse, parrotfish and butterflyfish as they are frequent visitors.
Saxon Reef is a popular spot with scuba divers, as it is the perfect setting for that elusive manta ray sighting or spotting a pod of dolphins in their natural habitat.
One side of Saxon Reef offers the perfect protection for snorkelers with bright, sheltered lagoon areas bursting with tropical fish, technicolour coral and shallow pools.
Massive underwater mountains emerge from the depth offset from the main reef – pinnacles of coral that attract deep-water pelagic species coming in for protection and to hunt.
These pinnacles are known as Saxon’s ‘Twin Peaks’ and schools of giant barracuda, trevally, and indeed, reef sharks are often sighted here.
During breeding season Saxon Reef is one of the top locations for finding octopus and their close relation, the cuttlefish.
Saxon reef is also known locally amongst the scuba diving community as a place that supports scarce species of macro life – small marine creatures that are extremely hard to find and a joy to encounter underwater if you do.
Some of the rarer species include the oriental ghost pipefish and robust pipefish, while more common sightings include a plethora of nudibranchs and the beautiful Spanish dancer flatworm.