Green water diving at Cook Island

Yesterday’s dive was one of the most exciting dives we have done at Cook Island.  With a maximum of 5 metres visability (and that’s exaggerating ) the bait fish and the sharks were all around us and up close.  Add to that constant and loud whale song, it all made for a memorable and slightly spooky green water dive.

And to think, our plan was to find the anemone fish eggs that I photographed last week to see whether they had hatched.  We couldn’t find them, but there was way too much going on around us to worry about it.

I will let the pictures do the talking.

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Sardines in the green

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More sardines in the green

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Even more sardines in the green,we were getting into the thick of it.

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Thinning out now, with a few yellow tail scads in the bottom left

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Remaining yellow tail scads.  The sardines will be back soon.

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wobbegong conference. The shark on the left was about 2.5m long.

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Getting close to a wobbegong.

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Grey nurse shark.  I know, it’s not a good photo, but she came in real close (about 1 metre) before she saw us and then decided to turn away.  I was too mesmerised to take a photo when she was up close.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cook Island, Diving, New South Wales, NSW Coastline | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Our first spring dive at Cook Island

It’s feels like it has been an age since last time we got our boat out and dived at Cook Island.  Late July, “nearly two whole months”, was the last time we dived at Cook.

Today was a beautiful spring day with excellent surface conditions.  Unfortunately, we only had about 8 metres of visibility, but that certainly didn’t ruin the dive. The fish tend to come in a lot closer in these conditions and today was no different.  Lots a bait fish, wobbegong sharks and turtles.  There were so many wobbegong sharks lying on the bottom we had to be careful not to kick them, some sharks were even lying on top of each other.  Great to see.

Here are our favourite photos from today.

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Yellowtail scad.  The scad were around us most of dive.

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Cuttlefish

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Green turtle

Juvenile Semicircle Angelfish

Juvenile Semicircle Angelfish.

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Wideband Anemonefish, (Amphiprion latezonatus)

This fish was trying to distract us by swimming away from its home anemone.  A sure sign that there were eggs near by.

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Anemonefish eggs on the rock. Anemonefish eggs take around 7-10 days to hatch.

 

 

Posted in Cook Island, Diving, NSW Coastline | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Where have the anemone fish gone?

We’ve dived the same dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef regularly for the past 14 years.  Over the years we have seen and experienced many beautiful and remarkable events.  We are still seeing and experiencing many beautiful and amazing sights, that’s why we keep going back.  However, we would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t admit to seeing changes.  One of these changes is the scarcity of anemonefish.  In the past, over a four-day trip we would regularly see at least 5 species of anemonefish.  Sadly, this time we only saw two, the pink anemonefish and the spine-cheek anemonefish.

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Pink Anemonefish, early morning dive.  

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Spine-cheek Anemonefish.

The Missing

Juvenile anemonefish hatch from eggs laid under the edge of the anemone and are swept away from their parents’ anemone by ocean currents.  These young fish then navigate towards coral reefs using sound waves, where they are likely to find a new anemone home.  Rising ocean acidification (an impact of greenhouse gas emissions) retards the formation of their otoliths (ear bones), affecting their ability to navigate toward loud, clicking, crackling healthy reefs and, ultimately, threatening their chance of survival.

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Black anemone fish, Great Barrier Reef

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Clark’s anemone fish, Great Barrier Reef

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Clown anemonefish, Great Barrier Reef

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A quick getaway on the Great Barrier Reef (Part 2)

As promised here is part 2 of our favourite photos from our weekend getaway on the Great Barrier Reef.

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Painted Sweetlip and cleaner wrasse.

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Painted Sweetlip (aka Slatey Bream). As these fish mature they develop a few random spots on their bodies.

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Yellow tail barracuda. These fish were so relaxed, they let me get within a metre which is very unusual. Normally the stay just within sight and move away as I get closer.

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Barramundi cod. These cod are very shy and are usually found hiding under ledges. Consequently, I have lots of photos of the back of these fish.

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Pretty damsel fish in the finger coral.

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Giant moray eel. I almost didn’t see this one. There is so much to see under the water, that sometimes you don’t see what is directly in front of you.

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A quick diving getaway on the Great Barrier Reef. (Part 1)

We’ve just returned from a 4 day/3 night dive trip on Norman and Saxon reef in the Great Barrier Reef.  As usually we spent our time on Ocean Quest and the crew did a great job of spoiling us.

This trip was a good opportunity to practice my photography with the wide-angle lens and double strobes.  I’ve had the strobes and lense for a while, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to bring it all together.  Either, the strobes are working but I don’t have the wide angle lens (I dropped the last one in about 100 metres of water) or, I have the lense and the stobes fail.  Anyway, we’ve sorted out the glitches and this time my equipment worked every time.  Now there a no excuses, I have to learn how to make beautiful underwater photos.

Here are some of our favourite photos from our trip.

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Harliquin sweetlip and Phil

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Hawksbill turtle.  This turtle was not bothered by us, it was too busy feeding.  It actually swam into my camera.

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Hermit crab. This photo was taken at night, that’s when all the crabs come out to play.

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Sea fan.  “Now this is a proper wide angle shot.”

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Reef wall at Tropos dive site, and my dive bu

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White-lined rockcod. Early morning dive, I think this one was still waking up.

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The ugly fish

On our first dive trip to the Philippines, we came across quite a few fish that we had not seen before.  They were quite interesting to look at, but ugly.

In my option anyway, although beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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Crocodile eel. Cabilao, Philippines

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Eel ? I ‘m not too sure. Cabilao, Philippines. All guesses are welcome.

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Smallscale scorpionfish, Balicasag Island, Philippines


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Scorpionfish. I don’t know what type, but I think its ugly.


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Ambon scorpionfish, Dauin, Philippines

The Ambon scorpionfish (above) is an  ambush predator that can change its colour to camouflage itself.  It will wait for prey to come close, and then lunge forward and inhale it. They have poisonous spikes on the back, head and around the eyes that they raise when threatened.  It doesn’t look too ugly in this photo.

And the ugliest of them all……the Devil scorpion fish.  This fish is quite commical, especially when you see it walking around on its two claw like legs.

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Devil scorpion fish, Dauin, Philippines

They might be ugly, but there’re  interesting.

 

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Sea whip corals and their residents

I can’t swim past a sea whip coral without taking a closer look.  There is a good chance I will find something interesting on it to photograph.  And if I don’t, the whip coral makes a nice subject in itself.

The most common critters that you will find on a sea whip coral are wire coral goby, commensal shrimp and xeno crabs. You can also find feather star, snail and other types of goby as residents on the sea whip coral.

These are my favourite photos of  sea whip coral and their residents.

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This sea whip coral was at about 25 metres depth. I didn’t find any critters on it, but it made a nice photo.


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Sea whip coral with feather star.


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Sea whip corals and bait fish


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Xeno crab. These crabs cut pieces of the sea whip coral off and stick them to their shells for added camouflage.


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Commensal sea whip coral shrimp. These shrimp are not easy to find, they are always hiding on the other side of the coral.


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Commensal sea whip coral shrimp.


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Wire coral goby


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Wire coral goby

Next time you’re diving, don’t just swim past a sea whip coral, take a closer look.  You never know what you may find.

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