Wednesday, January 14, 2009

South Cottesloe Beach - Tubeworm

I found this pretty tube worm, Protula species, which anchored itself in a crevice in the reef. The water was probably one meter deep.

The calcareous tube that housed the animal's body was not visible. The bright red and white fans (about 2-3 cm across) were its tentacles.

I did see it retract its tentacular fans twice but I was not fast enough with my camera. When the animal retracts its tentacular fans, it will seal off its tube with an operculum (like a small lid).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

South Cottesloe Beach - Banded spined brittle star

I found this banded spined brittle star, Clarkcoma pulchra, under a rock at low tide. It was about 10-12 cm across.

The banded spines on its flexible arms look pretty when you look closer.

Like any brittle star, this creature is fast moving, making it tricky to take a very good photo of it. While its possible to pick up a sea star, its not possible with a brittle star. After all, you really wouldn't want to do that as the animal's arms are said to be quite fragile and will break off easily - hence the name star, I guess.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

South Cottesloe Beach - Sea anemones

I learned something new about the sea anemones at South Cottesloe yesterday.

Don't they look like small buckets filled with bits of shell!

These barrel-like thingies are actually the bodies of sea anemones. Because I couldn't quite see the tentacles or the oral disc the first few times I saw them, I wasn't sure what animals they were.

Yesterday morning I came across one of those barrel-like sea anemone whose oral disc and tentacles are visible. Unlike other sea anemones that I often find at South Cottesloe, this one has short tentacles. Anyway, the lines and the bright orange color in the oral disc surely make the animal pretty.


I often find sea anemones with red tentacles and green tentacles sitting right next to each other. Their tentacles look very similar except for the color. I suspect they could be the same species with some color variation in their tentacles.

Yesterday I found that the bodies of the two "types" of sea anemones actually have the same body color.

A close-up on the oral disc of the sea anemone with green tentacles.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

South Cottesloe Beach - What else in a reef hole?

Reef holes are really good places to explore at low tide.

I was surprised by the variety of creatures I found in the same reef hole. Besides a feather star, sea stars, elephant snails, chitons, and sea anemones, I also found the following:

A blenny (?) and two juvenile stripeys (only one in this photo)

A shrimp which I didn't notice until it landed itself on my leg!

An "unknown" (to me)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

South Cottesloe Beach - Southern eagle ray, with a "shortened" (?) tail

I found this beautiful southern eagle ray (Myliobatis australis) taking a break on the sandy floor that was 4 - 5 meters from the surface on 30 Dec 2008. It was probably one meter-plus across.

What caught my eye really was that it had a short or maybe shortened (?) tail. So I googled about it.

Apparently, some fishermen and anglers who happen to catch stingrays would actually cut off their tails! And I came across some old news reports that linked the slaying of stingrays (tails cut off) in Queensland in 2006, with the death of Steve Irwin too. Perhaps I am too soft but I honestly found all this rather disturbing.

Anyway, the question remains - what's happened to this eagle ray at South Cottesloe?! Could the short stump of its tail a result of a shark attack?

Monday, January 5, 2009

South Cottesloe Beach - Sea hares and "spaghetti"

Ever since I found the spot where a few sea hares (Aplysia oculifera) always hang around (see here), I visit them every time I am on the shore at low tide.

On 14 Dec, I saw not only the animals, but also some spaghetti-like stuff near them.

The "spaghetti" - which I suspect to be their eggs.

About the color variation: Could it be due to different stages of development?

Sea slug forum says that the color of the egg mass of Aplysia oculifera is bright yellow when freshly laid and changes to brown prior to hatching. Another website says that the eggs of the Californian sea hare (Aplysia californica) starts off yellow and change to brown after 8-9 days.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

South Cottesloe Beach - Elephant snail

Elephant snail (Scutus antipodes)

I saw two of them under a rock in a reef hole. In both of them, the flaps of their jet-black mantles almost fully concealed their whitish shells. The first one was about 5-7 cm in length while the second 3-4 cm. These algal grazers can grow up to 10-12 cm in length.

I looked around but didn't see others. They move quite easily, almost sliding, across the rock surface.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

South Cottesloe Beach - Sea anemone

Well, it looks like I would have to hang up my fins (or snorkel) for some time till I stop reading about shark sightings around Perth beaches almost on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, check out these sea anemone pictures I took. I found them in a reef hole at low tide.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A short post for a reef hobbyist website

I wrote a short post for the community blog of a reef hobbyist website "The Reef Tank" recently.

Thanks to Ava who has helped to put it all together. I am always happy to talk to others about my interest in marine life and to tell others about the wonderful creatures I encounter at Cottesloe. I guess I owe it to Cottesloe.

Also, it boosts your confidence when you find your images looking stunning on somebody else's website, doesn't it : )?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Marine life comics

Interesting! Marine life comics!
If you love marine life like I do, you probably like reading comics about them too. Introducing Robert's Live Journal, where he puts up his comics:

I find the ones about marine life really interesting. When I first found out about them, it struck me that comics can make an effective tool in reaching out to people to educate them about marine life, marine conservation issues, etc. And also for a good laugh!

Below are the links to the marine life comics I found on his live journal:
Cottesloe again
Sexy sea slugs
Marine comics #1 (Sea cucumber)
Marine comics #2 (Jellyfish)
Marine comics #3 (Dumbo octopus)

Check them out and see if you like them!

South Cottesloe Beach - Old wife

"Old wife" - what a politically incorrect name.
I have often read that a large school of Enoplosus armatus is a wonderful sight to behold. But this is the first one and the only one I saw so far.

This fish is endemic to Australia. The fish is docile enough but its dorsal fin spines are venomous and can cause great pains, although not lethal. This is similar to Port Jackson sharks, who have venomous dorsal fin spines too.

Again, I felt so compelled to show you the photos here - not simply for the sake of keeping a record - also because I had to dive down to a few meters below the surface to take the shots.