Sponges on the reef
Port Jackson Shark (Heterodontus portusjacksoni)
Weedy Seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus)
Crested Horn Shark (Heterodontus galeatus)
Port Jackson sharks are very similar to Crested Horn sharks, most easily distinguished by the differences in the shape of the ridge on the head above their eye. Body colourations are subtly different too. Their breeding season has just begun and males cruise along the reefs looking for love. The recent storm has moved huge amounts of sand in the reserve and rocks covered in sponges stand proud again where once the sand threatened to engulf.
A giant cuttlefish stopped for a photo and my dive buddy Matt found a rare weedy seadragon hiding amongst the seaweed. It’s great to see these fish slowly reappearing after an absence of 5 years or more.
The water might be cold and murky but there is still so much to see.
Half Moon triggerfish
Bullseye caught in a hairband
Eye of the Eastern Fiddler Ray
When the water drops below 19 degrees most of our tropical visitors die from the cold but a few hardy ones sometimes survive the colder months. Neon damsels, half-moon trigger fish, even the occasional threadfin butterflyfish can be seen at this time of year.
The poor fish with what looks like a scarf to keep him warm in winter appears to have swum through a hairband, demonstrating what damage our waste and discards can do in the oceans.
The close-up of the fiddler ray is a favourite too – wouldn’t you love to see what it looks like looking through that eye?