Lying within sight of each other Dallas and Ardasier Reefs
lie 26km north and north-northeast of Terumbu Layang Layang respectively. Ardasier
Reef is 9km east of Dallas Reef, with the massive Ardasier Bank extending 69km to
Some 7km long and 2km wide, when Dallas Reef dries out it has a completely enclosed
shallow lagoon 15m deep, stretching east to west. It looks larger than triangular
shaped Ardasier Reef. This is deceptive as Ardasier Reef has a huge area of coral
hidden underwater known as the Ardasier Bank.
Dallas is remarkable for an unbelievable abundance of Spiny Lobsters. During the
day, every nook and cranny contains one or more lobsters up to 50cm in length. At
night all sizes congregate outside together, squabbling noisily as they fight for
Ardasier Reef is steep-to, except on its eastern side where it adjoins the Ardasier
Bank, its huge areas of sandy patches have an abundance of shy Guitar Sharks, Eagle
Rays, Giant Reef Rays and other intriguing bottom dwelling creatures that bury themselves
in the sand.
Both reefs have large sandy patches but again safe anchorage is difficult. Around
each reef small groups of hammerhead sharks and large shoals of Humphead Parrotfish
were encountered. Larger gullies and small caves were full of groups of Long-jawed
Squirrelfish and Red Soldierfish. Normally these squirrelfish are found hanging solitarily
and Red Soldierfish. Normally these squirrelfish are found hanging solitarily under
table corals so it is unusual to find them in groups. The largest of the squirrelfish,
Long-jawed Squirrelfish have a very large opercular spine, which is believed to be
poisonous; they feed at night on crabs and shellfish.
Both reefs are notable for an amazing abundance of colourful soft tree corals, all
shapes, sizes and colours. The larger ones, with extremely thick limbs tend to be
isolated while the smaller ones, mostly light blue to magenta in colour, grow prolifically
as hanging gardens on steep walls, especially on the south wall of Dallas Reef. The
west side of Ardasier Reef has hectares of sand sloping gently out into the blue
with predominantly larger burgundy coloured ones on individual stony substrates.
At slack water, soft tree corals hang limp and insignificant, but when currents are
running they swell up to feed in a blaze of colour.