Thursday, November 27, 2008

The South Cottesloe beach

Well, I went to the beach again a few days ago. Not South Beach, Fremantle, of course :) It was South Cottesloe. I took a few shots with my new Fuji camera, which will be my beachcombing companion in future.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

South Beach, Fremantle

This morning I went snorkeling at South Beach, Fremantle.

It was a beautiful day at the beach. The water was nice and calm this morning, except that it was still a bit murky. And there wasn't much to see underwater. But it was still good for a swim.

Anyway, something terrible happened today on the beach and I think I won't go back there for some time - my bag (including money, camera, cards, snorkeling gear, etc) was stolen. What a day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Summary for the last twelve months (or so)

I first swam in the ocean in March 2006 in Penguin Island. And when I first put on a snorkeling mask, that was in December 2006 and in Penguin Island too. I don't remember enjoying it very much. It takes a bit of time to get used to using a snorkel but I just lost my patience in a split second. Or it could be due to the mask leaking too quickly.

Finally in October 2007, I bought my first set of snorkeling gear and decided to learn snorkeling, which I did in Busselton. That experience was nice but it could have been better if I had my contact lenses then. Anyway, since then, I have been snorkeling quite regularly. And in January 2008, I invested in a waterproof camera and soon after, I started this blog.

Now that a year has passed, I thought it would be nice to sum up my experience in snorkeling.

Places where I have hit the water with my snorkel:

Busselton Jetty, Yallingup Lagoon,
Monkey Mia
Yanchep Lagoon,
Rottnest Island, Penguin Island
Coral Bay, Cottesloe,
Marmion Marine Park

The first fish I learnt to id
: Red-lipped morwong

Where I visited the most: Cottesloe (40 visits between Nov 2007 - present) (out of ~74 snorkeling trips done)

Where I feel most at home
: South Cottesloe

Unforgettable underwater encounters:
Southern eagle ray (Rottnest Island & South Cottesloe)

They are large enough for me to take some good shots without having to go too near. And the way they glide through the water is simply beautiful.

Sea hare, net-patterned jellyfish, western striped trumpeters (South Cottesloe)

1. I haven't met anyone who says they don't like the dancing sea hare.
2. Pseudorhiza haeckeli (Net-patterned jellyfish) is simply beautiful.
3. When I bumped into that HUGE school of western-striped trumpeters, I really couldn't believe my eyes. I thought that's something you only see on TV, not in the two meters' deep water of South Cottesloe.

Octopus (North and South Cottesloe)

They are very special (to me) because I don't see them every time I snorkel.

Green turtle, reticulate whipray, red firefish, giant clam (Coral Bay)

All these animals are just beautiful!

What I have got out of all these:
  • New knowledge. I learnt that marine animals and plants are not something in the background underwater. It is actually their ocean - they live there, we don't. So we as visitors must treat them with respect and care.
  • I learnt that unlike a swimming pool, the beach and the underwater seascape never stay the same - they change throughout the year. Every time you hit the water, you are bound to see something new or different.
  • I started this little blog that introduces to my readers what I find in the Perth waters and in other places where I snorkeled. And through this blog, I made new friends.
  • I found that there are people who are as enthusiastic and curious about nature or even more so than I do.
  • I found that I enjoy hitting the water than visiting an aquarium, even though sometimes I don't see much because the fishes won't hang around in the same spots all year waiting for me.
  • A life outside my PhD.
Plans for future:
  • I must make more effort to find a snorkeling buddy so that I don't have to go alone too many times. I always hear that it is a buddy sport. And so far, it is only common sense and respect for the ocean that have ensured that I didn't get into any trouble.
  • I will try exploring other beaches around Perth, possibly around Fremantle.
  • I will have to get a new pair of fins - these old ones give me cramps 5 minutes after I hit the water. I think my feet have put on weight.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Visit to the Palma Aquarium

When I was in Europe over the last two weeks, I did not visit any beaches at all. Not even when I was on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. The chill in the air and the wet weather was really not that inviting.

Still I managed to find time to visit the Lisbon Oceanarium and the Palma Aquarium in Mallorca, Spain. I was told by a Spanish marine biologist who works in the Lisbon Oceanarium that it was once the largest in Europe. Today, it is second to the Valencia's Aquarium in Spain.

Unfortunately, my camera batteries decided to go flat before I entered the Lisbon Oceanarium. I tried taking some shots with my mobile phone but they were really ugly.

Briefly, the visit to the Lisbon Ocenarium was quite interesting. The Spanish marine biologist that I met explained to me how they used marine bacteria and other microorganisms to filter and clean the water in their gigantic aquaria.

This is El Gran Azul (The Big Blue) tank in the Palma Aquarium, where there were sharks and other fishes. But what I really like about it is that there were cushions or pillows on the carpeted floor and you could just lie down and watch the sharks swim by. Also, I like it that the carpeted floor is level with the floor of the tank.

There are some outdoor open tanks like this one which houses the turtles and other tanks where they keep the sting rays and hammerhead sharks. I was able to have a close-up shot of the turtles as they kept coming to the window.

Inside the Palma Aquarium, there is quite a nice collection of marine life species. Anyway, taking photos of fishes inside a tank is always challenging to me and my humble camera. So I would show only the good photos here.

These ones are Scorpaena scrofa the large-scaled scorpion fish. They were easy to photograph as they stayed still most of the time.

The octopus - my favorite- I like the way it moves, very elegant and beautiful indeed.

Marbled moray (Muraena helena)

I googled for information about this fish and learnt some interesting facts. Apparently, the moray eels and other marine predators like barracudas may accumulate high levels of ciguatoxin in their flesh. Ciguatoxin is a neurotoxin. Its presence in the flesh of such fishes is said to be due to biomagnification, whereby the ciguatoxin (which originates from some microorganisms) get more and more concentrated as it moves up the food chain.

Well, in the beginning of the clip, you heard some ladies laughing because the two moray eels came close and and their lips met - which I was too slow to capture. Some of the ladies thought the eels were kissing and they found it lovely to watch. They also made some jokes about the eels. I didn't quite get it but I suspected them to be naughty ones.