Monday, April 27, 2009

South Cottesloe - Jellyfish (Pseudorhiza haeckeli)


Despite the advantage of not having lots of swells, visibility still wasn't very impressive today. The water was reasonably calm. So I was thankful I don't have to spend too much energy fighting the current.

I saw the "regulars" - western striped trumpeters and sea trumpeters (in big schools, as usual), silver trevallies, old wives, tarwhines, red-lipped morwongs, banded sweeps, toadies, some leatherjackets (which I find rather difficult to photograph) ... and three sea hares and three octopuses.

But the highlight of today's snorkel had to be this pretty jellyfish which I don't always see!

Net-patterned jellyfish (Pseudorhiza haeckeli)
The animal is about one foot long. I found it over the shallow reef located about 100 m or so from shore. This jellyfish is a rarer sight compared with the Australian spotted jellyfish (Phyllorhiza punctata). And I have never seen more than one each time.

My earlier encounters with this jellyfish - here, here and here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

South Cottesloe beach - Australian spotted jellyfish


It was a cloudy day. Underwater, visibility was still bearable. But it would have been greatly improved if there was more sunlight.

My most exciting encounter was the Australian spotted jellyfish, Phyllorhiza punctata. I don't see them every time I hit the water. And I saw three today.

This is the small one that I saw. The other two were about three times bigger than this one.

I experimented with different ways to take their photos. The photo with a blue background (left) was taken near the surface. The other photo (right) was taken from below using the surface as the background.

Taking these photos from below was more challenging because I had to dive down to the bottom and take the shots when I was rising to the surface. (I would have held on to some seagrass or kelps if there were any.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

South Cottesloe - Old wives and catshark


really wasn't in my best shape today when I hit the water. First, I just couldn't clear my right ear and it hurt every time I dived down. And second, my left calf hurt when I woke up in the morning and it still does. Fortunately, the pain in my calf went away when I was snorkeling.

Old wives (Enoplosus armatus)

I saw a school of probably 50 of them about 100 m from shore. There were some adults but most of them looked like juveniles. The water was about 4 m deep. I was quite excited as this was the first time I have seen such a large school of old wives.

Black-spotted catshark (Aulohalaelurus labiosus)

And I saw a black-spotted catshark - almost a month after the first time I saw one.

I just lost sight of a leatherjacket that I had been going after when the catshark glided into view. It could be the same one that I saw last time (?) considering its similar size. I wasn't far from shore, about 50 m; it wasn't too deep either, perhaps 1.5 m.

Anyway, I followed the catshark for quite a while, from the seagrass bed to the algae-covered reef.

And in the end, the catshark hid itself inside this hole and just won't come out. After waiting for 5 minutes, I swam back to the shore.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cottesloe - sea mist!

Sea mist at Cottesloe - this is definitely something new for me.

I have barely swum around for 5 minutes before it happened. And it happened really quickly, in a minute or two, when I was still wondering what's happening, South Cottesloe was already engulfed in a thick mist. So, fearing that it might not be safe to snorkel, neither would there be good visibility considering the low light conditions, I got out of the water.

Photo taken at South Cottesloe at 10.51 am

Photo taken at South Cottesloe at 11.45 am, when I decided to call it a day.

This is the photo I first took when I realized something was different.

The Cottesloe groyne has almost vanished into the thick mist.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cottesloe - Octopus

I saw this octopus on the shallow reef last Saturday. The water was about 3 m deep. The octopus's head is about 8-10 cm in width. I have seen octopuses a number of times but this one surely has a pretty head!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

South Cottesloe Beach - Ascidians

Some solitary ascidians (sea squirts) that I photographed last weekend. I still don't know there name. They have dark spots on their whitish-yellowish body, looking quite different from the red ones that I have often seen before this. They are about 10 cm plus in height/length.

The animal would close its siphons every time my camera got near.

In this photo, you can see two tube worms (Protula species) (blue arrows) near the sea squirt.

This one is covered in some red algae. I have seen some sea squirts that are almost smothered by algae , with only their siphons exposed.

Monday, April 6, 2009

South Cottesloe Beach - Nudibranch (Mexichromis macropus)

The Cottesloe waters were so calm last weekend, with very little swell coming in. Visibility was fantastic, possibly 4-5 m or more. So naturally, I had some good time snorkeling and checking out marine life. The highlight last weekend had to be these two nudibranchs Mexichromis macropus (3-4 cm in length) that I found at about 4 m's depth. They were grazing away on a small patch of blue sponge.

The arrow is pointing at the animal's exposed gills. Close-up, it looks like a piece of candy!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Penguin Island - Invertebrates

Some photos taken at the Penguin Island last Saturday (28.03.09).

The water was choppy and visibility was poor. The highlight of the day's snorkel was this net-patterned jellyfish (Pseudorhiza haeckeli). It's about 15 cm in length with a single oral arm. I found it near the surface in shallow water (~ 1 m). There were a few small fishes swimming along with it (white arrows).

As the visibility was poor, I decided to take close-up shots instead.

I found some colonies of blue-throated ascidians (Clavelina moluccensis)(?) under ledges. You can think of them as sea squirts that live in a colony, joined at their base. In the first photo, you can see that each animal has three blue spots between its two siphons.

And I saw two nudibranchs (Chromodoris westraliensis) while exploring the shallow reef on the north side of the island. These sea slugs are so lovely because of their brilliant colors; they are also easy to photograph because they are slow-moving.

And the orange feather star (Cenolia trichoptera)

Red sea star (Petricia vernicinia)

Mosaic sea star (Pentogonaster dubeni) which I saw for the first time!