The northern end of the Great Sandy Strait and Hervey Bay are highlighted in this astronaut photograph from the International Space Station. The Strait is an estuary that separates the mainland coastline of the state of Queensland, Australia from neighboring Fraser Island. The mainland side of the Strait includes the city of Hervey Bay, visible at image top center. Other communities that have become part of the larger metropolitan area include Scarness, Booral, and Urangan. A small vegetated island and shallow sand bars of the Great Sandy Strait are visible at image center left, while submerged sands appear as bright blue flowing ribbons at image center. A small, bright white exposure of sand is visible above the water level near the center point of the image.
While once a major freighting center for the sugar cane industry, the local economy is now largely based on tourism, with whale watching tours a popular attraction. The Great Sandy Strait estuary provides habitat for breeding fish, crustaceans, turtles, and other sea life, as well as a wide variety of birds including non-breeding wading species including Eastern Curlews, Bat-tailed Godwits, and Pied Oystercatchers. Nearby Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island and a World Heritage site.