Friday 29 March 2024

From On Board Reef Prince: Under a watchful gaze

#expeditioncruising .

(c) Silvia Furtwangler

Like a stealthy submarine running at periscope depth, he eyes us suspiciously. All we see from the front of the tender are two yellow baubles and a slender trail of spiny scales receding into the murky water. Then, just as surreptitiously, he slides silently below the surface and is gone. Gone, to our gaze at least.

The ubiquitous 'salty' (crocodylus porosus) is the top of the Kimberley food chain. These apex predators, the kings and queens of these remote estuaries, are to be feared and rightly so. Anything entering their realm is examined and assessed. Is this a threat or a food source? In either case, the interloper is subject to his scrutiny and to the whims of the local monarch.

Here in Deception Bay, so named by PP King for its indistinct entrance, our EL Paul leads us on another of his favourite excursions among the improbable landforms which culminate – as they so often do – in a glorious freshwater lagoon where we can luxuriate in the cool crisp water for a while. Perched on a narrow rock ledge overlooking our private plunge pool, is a delicate Mertens water monitor eyeing us curiously as we splash and giggle in the crystal waters

(c) Silvia Furtwangler

“When guests come to the Kimberley for the first time, what they expect to see in terms of wildlife and what they actually see can be quite different,” Paul cautions me, “I like to say it is a matter of quality over quantity. It's not like in a zoo or bird park, it takes time ad patience, but they are there and the more experienced guides (like Paul) will know where to find them.”

While the Kimberley may not deliver the abundance of wildlife like the Galapagos or Serengeti, it is there nonetheless. Besides the massive saltwater crocodiles, which have been recorded up to seven metres in length, their svelte, timid cousins the 'freshies' (crocodylus johnstoni) can be found hiding in the freshwater streams. Then there are the many fish species as well as turtles (predominately the common greens), serene dugongs and numerous bird species such as white-bellied sea eagles, brahmani kites, osprey, vibrant kingfishers and many types of waders and seabirds. Some can be frequently observed from our tenders, while others are lurking deep in the undergrowth ashore.

I'm aboard the 36-passenger Reef Prince, the sole vessel of Kimberley Expeditions, for their 12-day Broome to Darwin itinerary.

For more details on cruising in the Kimberley, contact Kimberley Expeditions

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