Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Snorkeling in the Yallingup Lagoon (for the last time) - (1)

Yallingup Lagoon again? Yes, and I wouldn’t mind many more times although this was probably the last time, ever.

If you still remember my last post about Yallingup, I was there in the middle of January (17 Jan 2010). About two weeks afterwards (31 Jan 2010), I was there again with two other keen snorkelers, Truc and Jude. We went camping on a farm in the Margaret River region for two nights so that we could go snorkeling there. So, thanks to them I had the opportunity to visit Yallingup Lagoon again.

I have previously written about Eagle Bay, which is another good snorkeling spot near Dunsborough, and not too far away from Yallingup. However, for a snorkeling site, Yallingup Lagoon is worth writing about more than Eagle Bay is. This isn’t just because the lagoon is easier to snorkel because it’s shallow (less than 1 meter) and calm. It’s also because people tend to think of Yallingup Beach as a top surfing spot and just another snorkeling site. People who find out about snorkeling sites only from “Dive and Snorkel Sites of Western Australia” will probably miss out the lagoon because it’s not included in the two books.

While it’s not possible to dive in the lagoon, I would describe it as a fantastic snorkeling spot, if not the best in that region. I mean, honestly, it is teeming with more marine life per cubic meter of sea water than anywhere else I ever snorkeled (except perhaps around Rottnest Island)!

The Yallingup Reef consists of granite boulders to the south, which is the left side of the lagoon when you stand facing the ocean in the car park in front of the caravan park. To the north and to the outer edge of the reef is a limestone rock platform.

Looking towards the south of the lagoon

Looking towards the north of the lagoon

The lagoon is the southernmost point in Western Australia where there are still tropical fish species thanks to the Leeuwin current. Near the beach, a number of signs have been erected to inform visitors about the status of the lagoon as a reef protected area and the range of marine life that can be found there. One of the signs says that the lagoon acts as a sick bay for the fishes. Interesting!

There were heaps of fishes in the southern end of the lagoon, although many of them appeared to be juveniles rather than adults, possibly because the bigger ones have moved on to deeper water. It was mostly shallow in this part of the lagoon, about 3-4 feet. Even the ledges are not very deep below the surface. In some parts, you may even run aground.

These are the photos I took in the south end of the lagoon.

Boulders in the south end of the lagoon. Also, see how clear the water was!

Lots of zebra fish (Girella zebra) in the lagoon. Although not very colorful, they were still delightful to watch!

Heaps of striped trumpeters (Pelates octolineatus) too.

Old wives (Enoplosus armatus) at the edge of a wireweed (Amphibolis) seagrass patch

Stripeys (Microcanthus strigatus)

Western buffalo breams (Kyphosus cornelii) - a relative of the common buffalo bream (Kyphosus sydneyanus). The western buffalo breams doesn't have a black margin along the edge of its tail and has no moustache, unlike the common buffalo bream. Also, the common buffalo bream feeds on brown algae while the western buffalo bream feeds on mainly red algae.

A male black-throated threefin (Helcogramma decurrens). It was a small fish about 4-5 cm long. The name "threefin" probably comes form the fact that it has three dorsal fins. It is one of the most abundant fish specis on reefs off the southern coasts of Australia. The red blotch under the fish's chin (blue arrow) indicates that he was now in the middle of mating season.

I managed to show Truc and Jude this pretty feather star too. You see, in the past, I have told them frequent enough about my encounters with southern eagle rays off South Cottesloe. But whenever we snorkeled there together, the eagle rays just seemed to have disappeared from there! And I did tell Jude and Truc that there were heaps of fishes under the ledges in the lagoon. But well, they were not as plenty as the last time I found them. Typical wildlife! Anyway, at least when I told them there were sea stars in the lagoon whenever you turn a rock over, I managed to show them it’s true.


glhopman said...

I love the black throated threefin it's a beautiful fish!

lovepossum said...

Thanks so much for this! I'll make some time soon to read through more of your blog. I was only at Yallingup last weekend however wasn't able to get a good look around the reef (due the choppyiness and new snorkel malfunction!). I did get to see some fish though, I hope to be back there soon!

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Gerrit,

Cute little fish. But it wasn't easy to take a picture of them. They just keep darting about.

Hi lovepossum,

Thanks. New snorkel malfunction!!! Sorry to hear that :( Hope you will have some good time the next time you go back.

huey raei said...

Hey tks lotz for sharing =D

Aft readin ur blog, am seriously thinkin to dropby yallingup lagoon to snorkel too =p

Wonderin is there any snorkelin set with life jacket available for rental there? & also is there any accommodation near (walkin distance) Yallingup Lagoon.. Tks for ur help :)

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Huey Raei,

Thanks for your comments. I'm not sure if there are any dive stores, etc, near the lagoon where you can hire some snorkel gear. But there's a caravan park nearby I think. I guess your best bet would be to write to the tourism people:

Try email: dunsborough@geographebay.com

Good luck.
And Happy New Year too :)

huey raei said...

Hi Tsun-Thai,

Tks for your advise. Hopefully me & my friends will make it to the place.. Seems like an awesome spot for a great snorkel.

Happy New Year & have a blessed year ahead :)

Jane@ West Moore Island said...

These are some beautiful images, as you would only expect from a beautiful place like Yallingup Lagoon. I do hope you get to go back again, I certainly wouldn’t mind!