Monday, November 9, 2009

Sydney beachcombing - Shelly Beach headland

17 October 2009

The Shelly Beach headland is such a fantastic place for beachcombing at low tide. I explored the area for a few hours and saw many interesting marine creatures.

The highlight had to be the sighting of a green moray (Gymnothorax prasinus). It was really a surprise as I would never expect to find it in just inches of water. But there it was, swiftly making its way over algae- and seaweed-covered rocks and finally disappeared beneath a large rock. The fish is almost a meter long.

I found two small sea hares under boulders: Aplysia parvula (left) and Dolabrifera brazieri (right). They are both a few centimeters in length. Aplysia parvula is also found in Western Australia while Dolabrifera brazieri is found only in eastern Australia. Dolabrifera brazieri is a flattened sea hare with small parapodia (wing-like flaps) that are difficult to see unless you look carefully. (Thanks to the staff of Australia museum for identifying Dolabrifera brazieri for me.)

And of course there were sea anemones, which I often saw on the rocky shores of Sydney.

I also found a swimming anemone (Phlyctenactis tuberculosa) attached to a seaweed. In this shot, the tentacles surrounding the mouth of the anemone were retracted but still visible.

This time I managed to get a nice photo of the large sea urchins that I saw many times underwater. This sea urchin, whose name I don't know, appears to be a common species off Sydney beaches. I saw many that must be 15 cm or so in diameter. What really caught my eye was the fluorescent colors at the base of some of the spines. I don't remember seeing this type of sea urchins when I snorkeled around Perth.

I also found a brown flatworm (Notoplana australis) under a rock. It was 3-4 cm in length. It is found in eastern but not western Australia. I have seen a flatworm on the rocky reef of Cottesloe at low tide, but it was a different species apparently (see here). That was the first time I saw a flatworm and I thought it was a nudibranch.


ria said...

WOW! Low tide!! Great photos as usual. What fabulous marine creatures you have on your shores!

Boobook said...

Great blog Chai

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Thanks Ria.
Thanks Boobook.

glhopman said...

wow, looks like a great trip! Have you moved to Sydney now?

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Ha ha ha! Not yet but love to.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Chai
Great shots from Sydney.
Loved your Green moray Eel.

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

The green moray eel was truly the highlight of that day, Denis.


David Vize said...

Good to see you are back in the water and on the other side of the country, I like your keen eye for spotting things.
you might like these 2 posts I made as well...
Wheeler Reef Critters
and just for fun
How to take really bad underwater photos

Christina and Paul said...

Hey Chai. I bought a nice thick wetsuit to keep my cold Canadian body warm. I finish exams in a week and was wondering if you would be back from Sydney anytime soon. Would you like to go out snorkelling together when you get back? We finally have a car so we can go a lot further afield now.


Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Paul,

Love to. I hope it will just get warmer and warmer from now on.

Anyway, I came back weeks ago and have gone snorkeling a few times. So far the conditions were not that good.