Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sydney snorkel - Shelly Beach/Fairy Bower Reef (2)

17th October

I visited
Gordon Bay and Clovelly Bay this morning but the water was choppy and snorkeling was out of the question. After a quick dip in the swimming pool at Clovelly Bay, I decided to go back to Shelly Beach again - my second visit to Cabbage Tree Bay.

Since it was not long past midday when I arrived, the underwater light conditions were still quite reasonable. This time I explored further the rocky terrain near the walkway. I swam further in the direction of Manly Beach than I did in my last snorkel here.

Many parts of the rocky terrain are covered in sargassum seaweeds and kelps. Whenever I go snorkeling, I like exploring areas covered in seaweeds. These are places where you are more likely to see fishes than on a bare sandy floor (my experience). The seaweeds are food and shelter to many marine creatures.

Anyway, I have seen many fishes without having to go too deep and managed to photograph some of them. The Fairy Bower reef is surely a good spot to snorkel!

Australian mados (Atypichthys strigatus) - a common schooling species on the coastal reefs in southern New South Wales, but not found in Western Australia.

Female crimson-banded wrasse (Notolabrus gymnogenis)

Male crimson-banded wrasse (Notolabrus gymnogenis)

The crimson-banded wrasse is born as a female and later changes sex into a male. And with the change of sex, the fish becomes drastically different in appearance/coloration. Amazing! The fish will stay a female for the first 4-5 years of its life. So, when you see a male fish, you know it's at least 4 years old (see here). The crimson-banded wrasse is not found in Western Australia.

Male Maori wrasse (Ophthalmolepis lineolatus)

A mature male fish has a dark stripe along the sides and blue scribbles on the head. Females lack the dark stripe along the side. The fish gets its common name from the blue scribbles on the head of an adult male, said to resemble the facial tattoos of the Maori people. This fish is common on the coastal reefs of south-eastern and south-western Australia. Like the crimson-banded wrasse, the Maori wrasse is born a female and undergoes sex change later in life.

Male Rainbow fish (Rainbow cale) (Odax acroptilus) - The fish has teeth that fuse together like a parrot's beak. The fish lives on the southern coasts of Australia, including southwest of Western Australia.

Yellow-finned leatherjacket (Meuschenia trachylepis) - The fish is common on sheltered reefs in coastal bays and estuaries of New South Wales but not found in Western Australia.

Rough leatherjacket (Scobinichthys granulatus) - The fish is often found in protected reef and weedy areas of southern Australia.

Eastern hulafish (Trachinops taeniatus) - A common schooling fish on the coastal and estuarine reefs of New South Wales; not found in the waters of Western Australia.

Juveniles of blackspot goatfish (Parupeneus signatus) - This species is found both on the east and west coast of Australia.

A squid! As I made my way to shore, I saw a group of about 10-12 squids led by a much larger member (photo). They kept avoiding me and so I couldn't get near and get some good shots.

After my two snorkels off Shelly Beach, I was very impressed with the Fairy Bower reef and will recommend it to anyone. I have seen interesting marine life there even in shallow water, including a green moray eel, some leatherjackets, two cuttlefish, a stingray, and a school of squids.


Duncan said...

Great stuff mate!

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

G'day Duncan.

The Fairy Bower Reef is truly a fantastic spot to see marine life! The thought of moving to Manly actually crossed my mind after my first snorkel at Fairy Bower. How lucky are those who live in Manly. I am burning with envy!

Steve Reynolds said...

Hi Chai
Welcome back to blogging again. Your photos are great and I know that you're going to be a great scuba photographer soon.

Mosura said...

Looks like a top spot. That crimson-banded wrasse is a beauty but I don't envy it's life style :-)

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Alan,
I found Shelly Beach/Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve really amazing in that you just don't have to go deep to see colorful fishes. About 2, maybe 3 m is good enough. And being a small bay, you just don't have to swim too far from shore to meet the fishes. Oh, it is also very much sheltered from ocean waves. I saw divers going in on all three of my visits.

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Steve,

I have just finished Chapter Two of the PADI open water manual. Now those articles in dive magazines (e.g. Dive Pacific) begin to make more sense to me. Anyway, I think it will take a while before I try underwater photography on a dive. The first priority is to keep myself safe! It's not just an expensive hobby, it can get dangerous too. That's my impression after reading the first two chapters of the manual.

mosneagul said...