Despite somewhat murky conditions Shelly Beach had some surprises for divers today. Bicolour angelfish swimming with their cousins the Keyhole angelfish, vibrant Orange Basslets, two uncommon wrasse, the pixie and black-backed, and a beautiful Weedy Seadragon. The photo looks like it is sick, but in fact it was feeding off mysid shrimp in this position. This individual has been in the vicinity for a few months now, identifiable by a missing appendage on the head. Majestic Moorish idols cruised past the shallows in pairs and there were at least 5 species of Butterflyfish to be found, the highlight being 3-4 Dot Dash Butterflyfish that I have only ever seen once before in the aquatic reserve.
This little fish, a member of the seahorse family, is one of my favourites in the aquatic reserve. You have to look very hard to find them and when you do keep looking as they often stay in pairs. It was only described as a new species as recently as 2003. They don’t move very far from the same location but their camouflage is so good it takes a while to spot them again. They also come in a variety of colours, often mottled white and green.
With a bit of swell rolling in the water clarity has disappeared again, but with water still warm it was worth immersing again today. A couple of new species I hadn’t seen before presented themselves, a large-scale saury with an enormous mouth making it look half fish, half lizard. He was probably almost 50cm long and my 100mm lens couldn’t fit him in. A mimic filefish cruised around the seaweed fringes as did a Bennett’s toby, an Eastern leopard wrasse appeared long enough to snap a single shot.
………When the East Australian Current (EAC) brings fish from there to Manly. This beautiful adult Clown triggerfish has been hanging around Fairy Bower (towards Manly) for several weeks now and I finally found it today.
Normally found in much warmer waters it is a very rare visitor indeed, the last one caught by a spearfisher only a couple of years ago.
There were dozens of dusky whalers cruising around too
And…..some swimmers described to me a fish that sounded very like a colourful pink and yellow dottyback – need to look for that one again
A week has seen visibility improve dramatically and a couple of dives have found me a couple of fish I have seen before but never photographed. Lots of triggerfish are to be found hidden in or under rocks, Bridled, Hawaiian, common toby, and Wedge-tailed varieties. Somewhere there is reported to be a Clown trigger but I haven’t found it yet! There are also reports of a rarely seen bicolour angelfish.
There are still heaps of tropicals, big parrotfish, butterflyfish, schools of leaping bonito and Dusk Whaler sharks everywhere, one of whom even has a slendersuckerfish attached to its underside. Water temp is still 24 degrees.