Friday, January 8, 2010

South Cottesloe - Woodward's reef eel

4 Jan 2010

Today I explored the reef on the left and right sides of the South Cottesloe groyne with snorkeling buddy Xander. Xander and I were in the water for two hours in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. The surface conditions were pretty good but underwater visibility was not perfect through out.

Anyway it was a great snorkel because I saw a new fish today - a Woodward's reef eel (Gymnothorax woodwardi).

I found it hiding in a crevice, partly concealed, in the shallow reef south of the groyne. It went deeper into the crevice when I moved my camera near it but didn't swim away. (The arrow is pointing at the eel's head.)

The eel is 40-50 cm in length. "Sea fishes of Southern Australia" (Hutchins & Swainston, 1986) says the eel can grow to 76 cm and may bite if molested (!)

Another interesting find is this little fish head that pokes out from a hole in the reef - the head of a False Tasmanian Blenny (Parablennius intermedius)(?)

The blenny just kept sitting in the hole, allowing Xander and I to take as many photos as we wished.

Xander spotted this large globe fish (Diodon nicthemerus) when we were just leisurely swimming over a shallow seagrass area. It is 20-30 cm long. I think Xander managed to capture a video of it too.

It is an amazing fish that has an inflatable body, movable spines and only two teeth! When feeding, it uses its beak-like jaws to crush hard-shelled molluscs and crustaceans.

I also checked the underside of ledges many times today. Apparently feather stars are quite common under the ledges off South Cottesloe. I took some photos of the feathery arms of these amazing crevice dwellers.

These creatures unfurl their arms to collect edible materials in the water when feeding. When resting, they usually just curl their arms up.

When checking under the ledges, I also saw a banded spined brittle star (Clarkcoma pulchra) at the depth of about 3 meters. I have found one before when I was exploring the shallow reef at low tide (see HERE).

This is the first time I saw a southern bailer shell (Melo miltonis) off South Cottesloe I think. The shell is about one foot long. It was sitting at a depth of about 4 meters in a seagrass bed. What's interesting is that the bailer shell is probably engulfing a turban shell (arrow)! Lunch time!

Besides the encounters I wrote about above, I also saw several octopi and several large schools of fishes. So, overall, it has been an enjoyable underwater adventure today!


glhopman said...

i love the photos of the blenny. my only complaint is that there is nothing to remind me of cuttlefish :) okay, I'm done, that's that last thing I will say about cuttlefish for a while.

Steve Reynolds said...

Hi Chai
All very nice, as usual.

The Aquarist Guide said...

Great diving pictures. I miss snorkeling! And glhopman is right, that blenny is great!

You should add your blog to my aquarium directory!