Blotched Bigeye (Heteropriacanthus cruentatus)
Yellow Moon Wrasse
Half and Half Puller
The water has cooled to 20 degrees but it was still surprising to find a few tropicals clinging on and a new fish I haven’t ever seen before, the Blotched Bigeye. Not a very nice name and it was a fortuitous find as I was photographing another fish when these eyes kept coming into the side of the viewfinder, and they are big eyes!
A larger than normally found bluehead wrasse was cruising the reef, with the blue and yellow moon wrasse, and I even found a dot-dash butterflyfish, the first I think I have found this year. A few Half and Half Puller remain, plenty of iridescent Neon Damsels, even a Fire Damsel.
Plenty to see in relatively clear water
Yellow moon wrasse
Headband Humbug (Dascylus reticulatus)
Crab hiding in the coral
What is the mystery object?
There is a seldom frequented part of the aquatic reserve that I often sneak off to for several reasons. Firstly, less people means you can find interesting critters and today’s gem was a tropical headband damselfish that has taken up residence in some hard coral growing there. On further inspection there was a crab hiding deep in the base of the coral. A few very fast wrasse were also swimming around making it very hard to photograph. I also stumbled upon a very shy Blackspot snapper that I have only really seen in juvenile form before.
I’ve thrown a mystery object to identify too – for those playing at home….
Hard corals in the shallows
If you doubted that our waters are getting warmer the corals appearing in the reserve are getting bigger and abounding in the shallows. These hard corals are reef-builders. Give it a few years and you’ll not need to fly to Cairns for a trip to the reef – it’ll be on our doorstep.
Juvenile Magpie Morwong
Spotted Wobbegong shark
Red rock cod
Spotted Wobbegong shark
Orange sponge cushion
The seasonal warming of the ocean lags the land temperature by 2-3 months so while the beach bakes in the sun, the water remains cooler, and as algae flourishes in the sun the visibility drops.
Venture into the depths and you’ll find colourful sponges, and beautiful fish from the large spotted wobbegong sharks to all the tiny juvenile fish now appearing in the bay, like the magpie morwong.
Coral and bivalve
Coral and sponges
Having seen the vibrant colours of Sydney city as the Vivid festival commenced last night, the underwater natural world presents a colourful alternative all year round. As well as a solitary Weedy Seadragon today there were an abundance of corals and sponges decorating the seabed. The seadragon is a bit lonely at the moment – this individual being the only one that has been seen, in months of diving in the aquatic reserve, and can be identified by the single appendage on the head.
Headband humbug and friend
A building swell from the south found me in a different part of the aquatic reserve from usual and with poor visibility and an uncomfortable surge underwater I stumbled across some beautiful hard coral I haven’t found before. A large head of coral, full of tropical fish, mainly two species of Dascylus, even crabs.
Surely evidence that the Great Barrier Reef is heading our way as waters warm up, several heads of this coral appeared to be very healthy, and the lower fish in the photo is the first time I have seen this species of Headband Humbug (Dascylus reticulatus) in Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve.