Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eagle Bay, Dunsborough

This January I went snorkeling at Eagle Bay twice. The spot I visited was probably the one described in "Dive and Snorkel Sites in Western Australia" or not far from it. The area is shallow (2-3 meters), sheltered and had good visibility both times I was there (15 and 30 January). There are also many rocks on the sandy beach that extend into the sea, just as described in the book.

Looking towards the surface across a huge boulder covered with a thick blanket of brown seaweed.

What I didn't expect to find was heaps of stingers in the water, especially over the sandy area! Fortunately I wore my long-sleeved rashie, so my arms were safe although I still got stung a few times in my neck.

This was a good spot for chasing and watching fishes but not for taking photos. The fishes were quite camera-shy. In the mostly sandy area that extends to about 50 meters from shore, there are some scattered boulders. Near the boulders, I found a few schools of banded toadfish and blue-spotted goatfish, as well as a juvenile moonlighter. There were also a school of Australian herring or tommy rough.

Blue-spotted goatfish

A juvenile moonlighter

I also had a good time chasing after a school of leatherjackets around the scattered boulders. There were about 7 of them and each was 20-30 cm long. They were quick swimmers and so it wasn't easy to take their photos. I ended up with a few photos that are not useful for identification of the fish species. But chasing these bluish, greenish leatherjackets between scattered boulders were quite fun.


Around the scattered boulders, I also found a few brown-spotted wrasses that were lying sideways, with most of their body hidden under a rock, showing only their head.

Brown-spotted wrasse

On one of the huge boulder, I found a colony of zoanthids too.

Zoanthid colony (Zoanthus praelongus)

The seaweed-covered rocks just off the beach are also worth exploring although the area is quite shallow. I looked at the short video clips I made and could recognize these fishes: western buffalo bream, common buffalo bream, banded sweep, sea sweep, western pomfret, zebra fish, red-lipped morwong, and rough bullseye. In spots where it was only a few feet deep, there were also stripeys and rough bullseyes in small caves.

Stripeys and rough bullseyes

Perhaps the most interesting find was this juvenile western scalyfin. It was hanging out in a hollow formed by a ring of rocks very near the shore. The fish was about 5 cm long. It looked quite pretty, with numerous blue dots on its head and an orange/brownish body.

Juvenile western scalyfin


Mosura said...

A nice variety there. Do those brown-spotted wrasses stay under that rock or are they temporarily taking cover after seeing you?

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Alan,

They were already laying down under a rock when I spotted them. Perhaps they were taking a rest?

The brown-spotted wrasses I saw around the Perth beaches did the same thing too.