On a beautifully bright sunny (almost Spring) day the water was inviting and calm. Decent visibility revealed large numbers of Elasmobranchs (Sharks and Rays) cruising around. The breeding season for Port Jackson sharks has begun with males swimming along the reef looking for potential partners. A small school of kingfish circled, Blue groper explored their territory coming in close hoping for a feed (it’s illegal to feed them but many do, smashing up sea urchins that live between the rocks). Rays of a different type, from the sun radiated through the water making for a very pleasant morning in the bay.
It doesn’t get much better than when the sun is shining on a glorious weekend, you’re heading to the dive site and you spot whales in Sydney Harbour. Within minutes we were standing on the foreshore at Fairlight with two small humpback whales cruising past us less than 50m away. A beautiful sight spoilt only by the 6 thoughtless whale watching boats jostling for a view and forcing the whales into shallower and shallower water. Then an idiot in a runabout insisted on circling the animals well within the permitted distance causing one whale to rear up out of the water as he came close.
The diving was generous too with patchy visibility, but Shelly the rehabilitated turtle was out and about, her radio transmitter now sporting seaweed growth.
The trigger clownfish was out and about chasing fish in its territory and a solitary dusky whaler shark circled several times to see what was going on.
With a blue sky and warm sun on a tranquil sea it was a perfect day for diving. Visibility is not too bad at the moment and with water a chilly 17 degrees the drysuit will get a bit of use for the next few months.
Armed with the 15mm wide angle macro set-up of course the first new species for my list that I found today would have better suited the 100mm macro lens I normally use. It was perfect to capture the large Ornate wobbegong that cruised past the rocky reef side of Shelly Beach.
A very sad encounter was the dead body of a young adult weedy seadragon. These are very rare in the reserve these days and we suspect that this one was the one we photographed several weeks ago.
Another new species – the Long nose Trevally.
Trying to put some order around my photographs I was contemplating what the world must look like through some of the extraordinary eyes that the creatures have. The Molluscs, which include cuttlefish, squid and octopus all have variations on a curved slit. With a highly developed nervous system this aperture shape must detect motion in a direction that is aligned to a rapid strike, or maybe it is spot the outline of a predator passing nearby?
The tassel-snouted flathead peers through what look like a system of branching roots, while the Eastern Fiddler ray has rounded lobes on the iris.
Each has evolved for a specific purpose and yet quite beautiful to behold.