Sunday, March 1, 2009

South Cottesloe Beach - Fan corals and marine worms

I just found a nice snorkeling spot in South Cottesloe, which is about 150 m from shore. Depending on the tides, the reef may be quite shallow, like one or two feet below the surface. The only challenge is the swim that you have to do to get there. Between the reef and the shore, the water could get to 4-5 m deep. So it doesn't sound like be a good idea for beginners , and for people whose ideas of snorkeling is just drifting around without too much swimming.

I was rewarded with the sights of numerous colonies of fan corals on the sides of some huge rocks and I saw three marine worms who are their neighbors too.

This is the location of the first fan coral colony I spotted on Saturday morning .

It certainly doesn't look very impressive. However, when I got home and looked at the images taken, I realized that the polyps were extending their tentacles!

I went back on Sunday afternoon to explore the same area more thoroughly and found more on other rocks!

Well, this is Cottesloe! Not Penguin island. I never thought that I could see such a beautiful growth of fan corals in Cottesloe.

In this colony, you can see the the blue arms of some brittle stars entwined with the fan coral branches. At the same time, you can see some polyps extending their white tentacles - probably busy collecting food from the water.

Blue arrows - the arms of brittle stars
White arrows - the tentacles of the fan coral polyps

And below are more shots of fan corals with their white tentacles on display.

This last colony is flanked by some blue sponges.

And below are the ones that have brittle stars in their branches.

I also saw this light-orange or buff fan coral - a rare color among the fan coral colonies in the area.

Now, the neighbors - I saw a tube worm, and two fan worms. The fan worms were an exciting find as it's the first time I saw them.

A tube worm (the critter with the white tentacular fan).
I had a post about this critter earlier on.

And below are the two fan worms I spotted living near the fan corals. Don't they just look like some exotic flowers! Their crowns of tentacles were about 5 cm across.

Well, I don't think I have to spend four hours on public transport to get to Penguin Island to see fan corals anymore!


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Chai
You keep turning up these amazing images of creatures I have never seen.
Well done.

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Denis,

Neither have I seen many of those creatures before. Well, I have seen some of them in books or on TV but not in person.

And every time I go out, I have no idea what I will find. Maybe that's why I find my hobby an exciting one.

It's no longer just swimming around admiring colorful creatures and get some exercise, but also actively finding out who else (what marine life) lives in my neighborhood : )


Mosura said...

Those blue sponges are amazing.

Regarding the worm, is the arrow pointing at the red thing or the white calcareous looking thing?

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Alan,

The white arrow is pointing at the red thing which is the red coral in the next photo.

By the way, it's a relief at least some of those pilot whales and dolphins that got stranded near Tasmania are now safe.

I was surprised to read that "More than 80 per cent of the mass strandings in Australia happen in Tasmania." Wow!


Mosura said...

Thanks for clarifying that.

Yes there have been four major stranding just in the last few months. Makes you wonder why.