Here at Red Cat Adventures, we strive to dig deeply into the scientific reasoning behind the turquoise waters we call home. As with all aspects of our tour guiding life, we like to be properly informed ourselves, in order to pass on correct information.

The Colour

While blue is the go-to colour that springs to mind, we can safely say that the majority of the waters around here are actually turquoise.  This is a better representation of the green and blue combination that can be seen with the naked eye and indeed, in photography.

Turquoise if famously known for having the following characteristics;

Turquoise, a blend of the colour blue and the colour green, has some of the same cool and calming attributes. The colour turquoise is associated with meanings of refreshing, feminine, calming, sophisticated, energy, wisdom, serenity, wholeness, creativity, emotional balance, good luck, spiritual grounding, friendship, love, joy, tranquillity, patience, intuition, and loyalty.

What Makes Seawater?

ELEMENTMOLECULAR WEIGHTPPM IN SEAWATERMOLAR CONCENTRATION
Chloride35.4189800.536158
Sodium23105610.459174
Magnesium24.312720.052346
Sulfur328840.027625
Calcium404000.01
Potassium39.13800.009719
Bromine79.9650.000814
Carbon(inorganic)12280.002333
Strontium87.6130.000148
Boron10.84.60.000426
Silicon28.140.000142
Carbon (organic)1230.00025
Aluminum271.90.00007
Fluorine191.40.000074
N as nitrate140.70.00005
Nitrogen (organic)140.20.000014
Rubidium850.20.0000024
Lithium6.90.10.000015
P as Phosphate310.10.0000032
Copper63.50.090.0000014
Barium1370.050.00000037
Iodine126.90.050.00000039
N as nitrite140.050.0000036
N as ammonia140.050.0000036
Arsenic74.90.0240.00000032
Iron55.80.020.00000036
P as organic310.0160.00000052
Zinc65.40.0140.00000021
Manganese54.90.010.00000018
Lead207.20.0050.000000024
Selenium790.0040.000000051
Tin118.70.0030.000000025
Cesium132.90.0020.000000015
Molybdenum95.90.0020.000000021
Uranium2380.00160.0000000067
Gallium69.70.00050.0000000072
Nickel58.70.00050.0000000085
Thorium2320.00050.0000000022
Cerium1400.00040.0000000029
Vanadium50.90.00030.0000000059
Lanthanum139.90.00030.0000000022
Yttrium88.90.00030.0000000034
Mercury200.60.00030.0000000015
Silver107.90.00030.0000000028
Bismuth2090.00020.00000000096
Cobalt58.90.00010.0000000017
Gold 1970.0000080.00000000004

The Reasons

Fine particles of various minerals go into the makeup of every drop of water in the ocean.  Depending on where you are in the world this will change quite dramatically.  The open ocean in the Pacific is made up of the above elements.

The water in The Whitsundays generally conforms to this data with the exception of higher silicon PPM.  The additional silicon reflects sunlight as it passes through the water which helps to create the famous turquoise colour.

Water Depth

As we all know, the deeper the water is, the deeper blue it becomes.  The Whitsundays has an average water depth of around 20 meters which is very shallow by normal ocean standards.

The decreased water depth also allows for light to pass all the way to the ocean floor and light up the sand below.  This has a major and distinctively visible effect when viewing an area like Hill Inlet.  Here you will see hundreds of different water depths that will all display their own colour.

Summary

The water in The Whitsundays is unlike anything else you will see on this planet.  The combination of the shallow, clear water with the higher concentration of silicon really makes the ocean pop.

It’s important to note that if you are trying to photograph the area, you will see the best results by using a polarizing filter on your camera.  This works exactly the same way as your polarised sunglasses by taking the glare and shine off the water.

>>> Check out our photo gallery.

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