Monday, March 30, 2009

Cape Peron - John Point

Satisfying! That's how I would describe yesterday's snorkel at John Point, Cape Peron, where I went with Truc, Dhruv and Phil.

There's quite a lot of marine life to check out around John Point. I didn't go very far from shore. Still, even in shallow water of 1 meter of so, I had some interesting encounters.

The highlight of the day, for me, had to be this beautiful dragonet!
I suspect it's an orange and black dragonet (Dactylopus kuiteri) but I will have to confirm that. The fish is about 15 cm in length. It was resting on the sand near some shallow reefs (~1 meter) when I spotted it. It didn't look like an active swimmer. It changed its resting locations a few times to avoid me and in the end decided to disappear into some nearby Posidonia seagrass.

I saw a few sea hares (Aplysia dactylomela) today. This one is really special because of the pink edges of its parapodia ("wings"). I don't remember seeing the same thing in others.

Another interesting critter on the shallow reef - a seaweed decorator crab. In fact I saw two of them yesterday. I have seen a dead one before while beachcombing at Trigg beach. This one is much bigger, with a carapace about 10 cm across. Their camouflage was perfect and they just looked like they have merged into the reef. The red arrows are pointing at the crab's limbs.

And I saw many sea urchins sitting in reef holes.

A few tube worms compete with sea urchins for living space in a reef hole. The white arrows point at the ones that have retracted their crowns of reddish feathery tentacles. The red arrow points the one that decided to show off its pretty tentacles again.

Clifton's zoanthids (Isaurus cliftoni)
These colonial cnidarians, which look like elongated, mini watermelons, are quite common on the shallow reef too. The white arrow points at the two rings of tentacles of one individual.

An eleven-armed sea star (Coscinasterias muricata) that looked like it was trying to pry open the shells of its prey (white arrow).

Southern bailer (Melo miltonis)
I saw this large sea snail sitting amid a patch of wireweed (Amphibolis species). The shell must be at least one-foot long. The first time I saw a southern bailer at Monkey Mia, I was so amazed by its size. It simply looks like a lethal weapon to me! The last time I saw one was at the Penguin Island.

Overall, a wonderful snorkel that I had yesterday. There's so much to explore underwater, e.g. shallow reefs, large outcrops, ledges and seagrass beds. John Point is certainly worth a re-visit!

to Shadowkiller, a Dive-Oz forum member, who told me that the fish is a dragonet - not a scorpion fish as I initially thought.


Snail said...

Wow! that does look like a top spot. Bailer shells are wonderful things. I saw one (ages ago) in shallow water at Magnetic Island, near Townsville. When I say one, there were two --- a huge snail eating a smaller one. A bit gruesome but fascinating.

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Wow, it must be a mesmerizing to see a bigger snail eating a smaller one! Something I wish I can capture with my camera one day.


Philby said...

Yeah, some great pics Chai.
I wasn't terribly impressed by the shallow terrain & largely skipped past it.
But you found some great organisms.

I ought to pay more attention in future. :-)

I think those bottles I found are 1940's, not worth much though - up to $20 each (not rare enough)