Friday, April 25, 2008

Another sea hare of Cottesloe!

My friend Wang Xing knew that I went snorkeling today and asked whether I saw anything new or interesting.

The stirred-up water wasn't interesting. I hardly saw any fishes because of that!

Anyway I saw a sea hare (Aplysia species?) . A swimming sea hare! It wasn't very big. Probably about 10 cm in length.

I saw it undulate its winglike flaps (= parapodia) to swim around. It just looked like it was dancing in the water. The dance simply looked nice to me. But I suspect choreographers would find it really inspirational!

Pretty animal!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A slightly better Sunday - at the North Cottesloe Reef

Despite the gloomy weather forecast, I went snorkeling off Cottesloe this morning. The beach was quiet. The water was cold and murky. Poor visibility too.

I didn't see many fishes today. Neither did I see any that I haven't before. But again, surprise, surprise, I saw a black sea hare! And what bad luck that the murky water won't let me take some decent photos!

Take it next time? Did you say? Well, I doubt I will ever see this animal again. Most of my encounters with these uncommon critters never happen twice. I wonder why. BUT, having said that, I must admit I am happy that I have seen them at all.

It was probably Aplysia gigantea, considering it's size (almost 30 cm long) and an overall black body. The red arrows point to the large tentacles which look like the large ears of a hare. The blue arrows show where the two folded-up parapodial flaps met (I think).

And I saw Pseudorhiza haeckeli again. The poor water and light conditions made it look dull.

Anyway, despite the poor photo quality I think I should still show you my encounter with the black sea hare. After all, I want to show you there are lots to explore underwater off the Perth beaches!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A boring Saturday

I don't really mind the cold sea water. That's what wetsuits are for. And I have invested in one. And I don't mind choppy water either. I have grown more confident in the water now. But not when it is murky, it takes all the fun away from my time spent underwater.

This Saturday I went back to the Marmion Marine Park. I hit the water at Mettams Pool and then the Waterman's beach. Both were not nice for snorkeling. So I ended up visiting the Aquarium of WA. Well, I thought at least I could practise photographing marine animals there.

I took some photos but they didn't turn out very nice. And it just felt so different taking photos of fishes inside an aquarium. I saw some fishes that I have seen before when I went snorkeling. I like it better when they are in the wild.

A coral garden with fishes in an aquarium.
They just look so unreal, or maybe unnatural.

Moon jellies


I really like marine life more when they are in the wild!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Offshore from Marmion Angling and Aquatic Club (MAAC)

After going to Cottesloe every weekend for a couple of months, I reckoned it was time to have a bit of change. Last Sunday, I snorkeled in the Marmion Marine Park. I picked two places - offshore from the Marmion Angling and Aquatic Club (MAAC) and Waterman's Reef Observation Area. I started with MAAC and finished with Waterman's for a really practical reason - Waterman's has shower facilities!

I didn't see any fishes that I haven't before. So I took photos of other marine life instead.

MAAC Club right on the beach

The brown stuff was possibly some encrusting algae.

Orange sea sponge! This must be quite rare. I often see the purple sponge, not the orange ones.

Sea anemones and abalones

Encrusting algae again? Or some marine lichens?

Eleven-arm sea star

Purple sea urchin (Heliocidaris erythrogramma)(?)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Waterman's Reef Observation Area

I snorkeled in the Waterman's Reef Observation Area this morning. The Waterman's beach is part of the Marmion Marine Park.

The underwater visibility wasn't impressive. And to make things worse, I lost one of my contact lenses while snorkeling!

Purple sea urchin (Heliocidaris erythrogramma)(?)
This one is quite different from the ones that are often washed ashore at the South Cottesloe beach.

Lots of abalones living on the reef.

And I saw a smooth boxfish too.
I have seen the smooth boxfish several times at Cottesloe but never could I take its photo.

This is the first time I saw some orange sponge. The ones I have seen so far were all purple or blue.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Jellyfish of North Cottesloe Reef - Phyllorhiza punctata

Today's weather was bright and sunny. However, underwater off Cottesloe was only poor visibility. It must be the swells. And so there was so much sand particles and other stuff swimming in the water.

Anyway I still managed to get some nice photos of an Australian spotted jellyfish, Phyllorhiza punctata. One easy diagnostic feature of this species is the white-spotted umbrella. And the umbrella is brownish because of algae living in it. Another feature is the filaments trailing behind the mouth arms. These filaments end in knobs.

Australian spotted jellyfish (Phyllorhiza punctata)

Watching it from below

Close-up on the mouth arms and the filaments

Another close-up on the mouth arms and the filaments

If you look closely, there were actually two small fish with the jellyfish.

I have seen one Australian spotted jellyfish which was surrounded by a rather dense layer of this small fish once at North Cottesloe. But my camera was at the repair shop then. I had no photos, so you will have to believe me ;p

Another Phyllorhiza punctata - I just think this photo looks nice. So it is here.

A small one. Note the brown patterns on the umbrella (or bell) look different.

The small Phyllorhiza punctata moving away.

This one was just floating around near the surface. It seemed to have turned its umbrella flat. Was that to increase the surface area to intercept more sunlight for the photosynthetic algae in the umbrella?

The same jellyfish as the last one. Doesn't this photo look quite artistic?
Actually, it wasn't taken on purpose. Half of the animal was cut off because it just won't stay still when I took the photo.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fishes on the South Cottesloe Reef (12) - Western scalyfin

Finally, I managed to get some reasonably good photos of the scalyfin. This is a western scalyfin (Parma occidentalis), as indicated by its steep forehead.

This is not the first time I saw a scalyfin. But when I saw them in the past, they always vanished from sight so quickly that I couldn't really take a proper photo of them, till now.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fishes on the South Cottesloe Reef (11) - Funny fishes

I saw these two funny fishes on the South Cottesloe Reef some time ago.

They were funny because they would swim around for a while and then just flop over on their side over the seagrass or on the sandy bottom. When I got nearer, they would swim away to a new spot and then flop over again.

Why? No idea. I think they were pretending to be dead.

Black spinefoot (Siganus fuscescens)
This one has no reason to be afraid of me. It has poisonous fin spines!

Herring cale (Odax cyanomelas)
The second one looks like it's dead with its eyes wide open!

Shadowkiller and Bunyip of the Dive-Oz forum id these fishes for me.

Note (26 Mar 2010):

Now I am having some doubt about the accuracy of the id of "Black spinefoot (Siganus fuscescens)" (first image). It looks more like a brown-spotted wrasse (Notolabrus parilus) than a black spinefoot.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Comb jellies on the Cottesloe Reef

When there's enough sunlight, you will see some free-swimming comb jellies in the Cottesloe waters. Despite their name and jellyfish-like appearance, they are not really jellyfish - and they don't sting. So I felt safe swimming around them and taking their photos.

The comb jelly has eight rows of cilia (short hair-like structures) running down the length of its body. They use the cilia for movement. The beating cilia scatter light and produce the rainbow colours that run down the length of its body - delightful to watch!

The photo of the same comb jelly from a different angle.
Its flattened body is more obvious in this photo.
The white dots above the critter are suspended particles that reflect light.

The photo of the same comb jelly taken with the water surface in the background.

This is another comb jelly. Its body looks much flatter than the last one.

Yet another comb jelly. This is obviously a different type. It is more oval in shape.

This is another comb jelly. Its body looks much flatter than the last one.

This one could be the same type as the last one, but it is upside down.

So the next time you hit the water, just stop for a moment and look around you. Look hard. You might see one of these transparent critters drifting around. And after you have seen the first one, you will soon see the second, the third...