Sunday, January 31, 2010

Return to Chowder Bay Jan 9th 2010

On Saturay January 9th, I returned to Chowder Bay for a quick snorkel with my work mate. Almost arriving at the parking lot, there was a sign which indicated that the car park was closed. Little did we know that it was full from all the buses that transported hundreds and hundreds of scouts from all over Australia. 

We parked some distance away and climbed down a hill and some stairs to get to the beach. We quickly saw that 20-30 kids were continuously jumping from the jetty which disturbed alot of the sand and most likely scared alot of the fish. So instead of snorkeling in the shark net enclosure, we decided to give the other side a go. Being a Saturday, several boats also moored near the beach which worried me as I have read somewhere that a snorkeler had been hit by a boat who had not seen them. However, the boats looked like they weren't going to leave any time soon.

The water this time was unexpectedly cloudy unlike the first time I had come for a snorkel. I would say that visibility was 2m. I also noticed that there were three scuba divers that were practicing by the beach. I believe it was an instrcutor with two students. I really want to start scuba diving..

The first sign of fish life were some whiting and also the leatherjacket shown below. I believe it was dumbfounded by the anchor and attracted to the shine as it just kept following the chain up and down. 


I see you! Octopus eyes

Closer towards the jetty steps, I saw a large plank of wood and decided to investigate and see what marine life it could bring me. When I got closer to the wood, I saw something looking at me. This was the first live octopus I have seen while snorkeling and through all the excitement, I only took one photo which was blurry as hell. It was a poor excuse of a pic. Anyhow, we decided to swim closer to the nets as I have read on that sea horses are aplenty here at Chowder Bay.

Sidewards seahorse

For some reason, I did not think I was going to see one that day but luckily for us, we managed to find one (above). Again, this was my first encounter with a live seahorse so I did not pay much attention to my camera and just gazed at it in awe. Apart from the staring eyes of the octopus, this was probably the highlight of the day. One thing I did find difficult was that the tide kept pushing me towards the nets. Had to fight against the tide.

Close to the nets was another leatherjacket that I took a picture of. I some times wonder if I could catch these fish with just a net? They seem so relaxed all the time.

 Leatherjacket just strolling along

Overall, the second trip to Chowder Bay was great in terms of sighting a live octopus and a sea horse. In terms of overall marine life and water visibility, I would not say it was great but ok. I think Chowder Bay is fantastic for families to have a picnic while including water sports as part of their activities. I know that I will definitely go back but maybe next time, I will bring some food and have a picnic while I am there. 


Friday, January 29, 2010

Clovelly Discovery 24th Dec 2009

Clovelly was my next snorkeling destination as I have read countless recommendations of this place so I decided to give it a go on Dec 24th (took a day off work). 

East side of the Bay (taken from the south side)

I also knew that parking would be horrendous due to its popularity but luckily for me, I managed to find one within moments of arriving. The first word that came to my head at the glimpse of the bay was 'artificial' due to the concrete slabs surrounding the perimeter. However, it made me feel somewhat more secure knowing that this area was purposely constructed for people (families, etc). 

West side of the bay (take from the south side)

I noticed that there are about 2-3 entry points (steps) from either side of the bay. Entry to the water can also be done by the rocks on the north side without any problem but just need to be wary of the slippery surface. Although entry would have been wiser from the beach as we did not know what to expect, we decided to enter the water by the steps from the north side.

Upon entering the water, the first thing I noticed was the blue groper that approached us. Maybe it was being at the right place at the right time, but I was trigger happy and took numerous pictures of this 'labrador' of the sea. I have read that this blue groper was nicknamed 'bluey' or 'bluey 2' as the first one was apparently speared. That is probably why I saw multiple signs stating spear fishing is prohibited. Here are some pictures of the blue groper:

Blue Groper (Lab of the Sea)
Blue Groper (Lab of the Sea)
I was lucky for it to come close enough for me to give it a gentle pat. I could have sworn it smiled at me. What I was confused about was that I thought blue gropers are largely territorial where usually one blue groper would inhabit a certain territory, but I saw multiple blue gropers around the same size swimming along happily with each other. Maybe because they are not the dominant male?

Some other pictures I took at Clovelly are:

Fish (name?) taking an interest in this sea shell

  Blackspot Goatfish conducting synchronised swimming

I have yet to learn the names of the fish species so that I can identify them. I can probably name all the fish species that are most commonly caught (fished) in the Sydney region but it is the other species that are uncommon to fisherman that I need to learn. I am positive this will gradually improve with frequent dives.

The overall snorkel at Clovelly was great as it was my first encounter with these blue gropers. To others, Clovelly may be considered a standard dive but I believe through trained eyes, I am sure there is an adbundance of sea life in this area to appreciate. Through my untrained eyes, I am most certain I missed aplenty on this trip. I will undoubtedly return and hope to encounter what I have missed the first time round. 

Signing off


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

First trip to Chowder Bay Dec 7th 2009

Back on December 7th, I looked forward to my first 'dip' of summer 09/10 at Chowder Bay. This was where I experienced my first official snorkel with my own gear set, i.e. mask, snorkel, and fins. Unfortunately at this stage, I was not yet convinced that I would become so fixated with snorkeling so I did not invest in any underwater camera. Instead I had my Canon G9 to take all the photo's for me. Below are some pictures of Chowder Bay taken from the beach.

As you can see, the water was a beautiful blue and was secluded from any of the summer crowds. This picture is actually of the shark net enclosure (facing west) where the jetty acts as a section of the shark net. A better view of the shark enclosure is shown below. You may have noticed some heavy duty cranes in the background. I am not too sure exactly what they are doing to the bay but I believe this is one of the reasons why my later dives were not as enjoyable.

Trying to gain some confidence in myself, I decided to stay within the realms of the 'so-called' shark net. I can see why some people may imply that shark nets are just security blankets for the tame as there is a huge hole enough to fit the size of JAWS through. Seeing that I was snorkeling in the shark enclosure, I was surprised to see the underwater activity with schools of luderick swimming aimlessly, bream darting back and forth with some up to 40cm, and king george whiting around the same size. Normally seeing these fish on the end of my fishing line, I was excited to see the abundance of fish in this area. I was also very surprised with the depth of the shark enclosure. I would say that the deepest section would be around 3m depending on the tide. Although not visible in the pictures, rubbish such as drink cans/bottles, empty bait bags (i mean lots!), and golf balls were found. Regrettably, it is the fishermen that are guilty in dumping alot of the rubbish in the ocean.
Continuing on to the next section, the picture above shows the east side of the shark net and I believe that one of the shops in the building belongs to the Mosman diving school. Certainly a place I will consider to learn to scuba. I also believe the building holds a nice cafe and an extravagant restaurant. You know where to go whenever you get the munchies!
I must admit that although there were lots of rubbish to be found, this trip to Chowder Bay has instigated my need to seek new snorkeling adventures. I have lived right on the doorsteps of one of the most beautiful harbours but have neglected to enjoy its full potential until now. Snorkeling adventures here I come!
Signing off


ps. I will post up my other trip to Chowder Bay in the near future

Wobbegongs released at Shelley Beach

I had recalled somewhere that just recently 10 captive bred wobbegong sharks were released off Shelley Beach, Manly. After searching the net, quite a few results came up regarding the releases of these sharks on January 22nd, 2010. A picture of the wobbengong shark is shown below.

Wobbegong Shark (source: Sydney Aquarium, 2009).

I suppose this had caught my attention as I recall catching quite a few of these sharks quite a long time ago at Little Manly Point. These were all released as I practice 'catch and release'. However, the article discusses the dramatic decrease of the species due to overfishing, pollution, etc. Sad to see this happen to any species. I really hope to see a wobbegong shark in its natural environment. Maybe my next snorkel trip will be Shelley Beach with the hope of catching a glimpse of this beautiful fish.

Signing off


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The first post

This is something new. My first post on my first ever blog. I decided to create this blog to record some of my adventures (mostly underwater but of course not limited to this area) as it has become my new found passion. My previous encounters with marine animals were basically found on the end of a fishing line but instead of removing them from their natural environment, I thought I'd approach it from a different angle and join them in their natural habitat. This whole new experience is/was a real eye opener and I hope to record my adventures as they come.

The first picture posted above of a red morwong (taken at Fairlight Beach) is one of the my favourite pics so far. I am not too sure why but it must've been how it just rested so peacefully without even a care for the rest of the underwater world.

By the way, these underwater pictures are taken with the Canon D10 and it has been fantastic so far. I am by no means a professional underwater photographer, but it has served its purpose. Of course this is relative to what your purpose is, but mine is to just keep images of my underwater adventures. Maybe this will change later in time. I also wanted to clarify that my underwater adventures are all done through snorkeling. I hope to mix this up with some scuba in the near distant future.

I also hope to post up some of my snorkeling trips in the next few days. These sites include:

- Chowder Bay
- Clovelly
- Fairlight Beach

Anyhow, I look forward to the next post.

Signing off