Bat photography – The largest of Australia’s microbats

As I sat by a cave entrance in the Kimberley, Western Australia, ghost bats zoomed out into the night sky, as they turned once in the open, their taut wing membranes made the sound of a stunt kite on a tight line. A quick chirp from each one and they vanished into the night. One stayed close, hanging from a nearby tree, scanning the ground for prey.

Without doubt one of the coolest bats in Australia, the ghost bat (Macroderma gigas) is the largest of our microbats. Most microbats are content feeding on insects caught in the air or snatched from vegetation. Not this bat. Only the largest insects will do, and often they want more. Frogs, lizards, mice, other bats and even birds as large as doves are commonly grabbed to be devoured. Prey is taken to a special feeding spot to be consumed. Piles of bones, feathers and assorted bits of prey animals are a sure sign of a feeding spot.

It took me hundreds of kilometers, many nights of observing and several trials that failed before I got the results I wanted. A tiny cave in the Northern Territory was the answer I had been searching for. A welcome tip-off from a friend was all I needed. Once I found the damn thing it all fell into place.

I approached the cave and could hear chirping coming from inside. Despite being ruthless predators, the ghost bat is extremely social. Clumping together in large numbers is how they spend most days, chattering to each other like budgerigars. I decided to hang back and not enter the cave itself as the bats would be disturbed. So I set up my home-made infrared trigger vertically, aiming the five flashes at the beam where I imagined the bats would hit it. I had forgotten to bring batteries for the camera trigger! The idea was to have the bats trigger the camera into a 1 second exposure, then fire the flashes as soon as they hit the second beam. So I was stuck with using only the flash trigger with 5 flash units and a shutter release cable. With the camera set to Bulb, I only had to sit and wait. Holding the shutter open manually until the flashes fired, then starting again. It worked very well, but it was a pain being stuck there with the camera.

First came the leaf nosed bats (Hipposideros ater) in three colour forms; orange, pale and grey. These tiny bats appear very delicate, fluttering around like moths. As I was set up for the much larger ghost bats, these little ones did not take up as much of the frame as I wanted. I just had to wait for the ghost bats and ignore all of the wonderful opportunities for leaf noses. The only images I managed had to be severely cropped…

Dusky leaf nosed bat (Hipposideros ater)

Brown form of the dusky leaf nosed bat (Hipposideros ater)

Dusky leaf nosed bat (Hipposideros ater)

Pale form of the dusky leaf nosed bat (Hipposideros ater)

Dusky leaf nosed bat (Hipposideros ater)

Brown form of the dusky leaf nosed bat (Hipposideros ater) with a pup

Dusky leaf nosed bat (Hipposideros ater)

Orange form of the Dusky leaf nosed bat (Hipposideros ater)

Ghost Bat (Macroderma gigas)

A Ghost Bat (Macroderma gigas) heads out for the night

At about 7:30, well after dark, the ghost bats began to stir. I could hear thunderous wing beats inside the cave and more chirping than before.

Ghost Bat (Macroderma gigas)Ghost Bat (Macroderma gigas)

Whoosh! The first came rocketing out, chirping as soon as it was in the open. Others from another entrance joined it. The flash had gone off, but the bat was slightly clipped on the image edges. Over the next hour, many more came out and most triggered the flashes. It was a real treat to finally have a proper win with ghost bats. I left them to be and headed home, right after trying to get a last minute shot of some leaf noses which had backed off their activity at the cave entrance.

Into the heart of Cape York – part II, the snakes and cuscus

Into the heart of Cape York – part II, the snakes and cuscus

The next morning arrived and Steve appeared. I asked him about getting supplies from the supermarket.

“Yeah… ya might wanna go before nine or ten this morning, or ya might find all o’ the good stuff’ll be gorn. Supplies run out quick, an’ they’re bloody expensive.”

So we headed down to the supermarket and found that it was pretty crowded, it was going to be closed for a few days. To our surprise Les was in the bakery section, serving bread and roast chickens. We chatted quickly and bumped into Nev from the airport. It was like we were already “local”. Lockhart River is an Indigenous community. The supermarket was a hive of activity as everyone was buying supplies for Christmas. Locals worked at the cash registers and staffed the shop. Government incentives are in place to curb unhealthy eating habits in these communities by subsidizing fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a “healthy” section in the refrigerators bordered by a cartoon Elder with his thumbs up and the caption “Big Jim says thumbs up to good tucker”.

With some supplies, we headed out to book the campsite for the next few days. I did it all online with my phone, which was a massive hassle with Queensland Parks and Wildlife who think that everyone has internet all of the time. Lockhart River sort of has it. Well, after doing all of it online, setting up an account, confirming it, setting up payment and car details, for technical reasons it was rejected as I was confirming it so I had a painful conversation with a consultant over the phone. She asked many irrelevant questions including what kind of car we had. Apparently only 4WD vehicles are allowed to the campgrounds. Any car can navigate these roads, even a golf buggy! There are no car restrictions on the road and the campgrounds are only three to twenty metres from the roads anyway. I lied and said the Hilux was a 4WD, even though it wasn’t. With that out of the way, I noticed a storm was looming, so we drove back to Paul’s house.

Phil was clearly loving this adventure. We laughed at how strange the town was, at least compared to the strict rules and regulations in mainstream Australia. Kids as young as ten were scooting around on quad bikes, nobody wore seatbelts, and when I was fuelling up the car the local policeman stepped out of the patrol car in shorts, singlet and sandals.

When we returned to Paul’s, Steve was talking to a massive, dark skinned man, not Indigenous in appearance but more like an Islander, which he turned out to be. From the Solomon Islands, Paul Piva sported tribal tattoos, immense shoulders, arms like tree boughs and a massive smile. Without doubt one of the kindest and friendliest people I have ever met, We shook hands and he welcomed us, but I had business to discuss.

“Mate,” I started “What do you want to do about the car? Want some money, forms…?”

“Nah bro. She’s right, we’ll sort it out later.”

“So, we doing the price on the website?”

“Nah, too expensive” he chuckled. “Anyway, where you mob off to? You can camp here as long as you like. Use the fridge, leave stuff here, it’s all good. I came back late last night, saw you in here, thought nothing of it and went to bed.”

“Off to camp in the forest. Already paid for the site, besides, we want to be in the forest. It’s better for finding the things we are looking for.”

“Suit yourselves. The offer’s still open. You need anything? I can set up a marquee, generator…”

“Don’t worry about it” said Phil. “It’s fine, we have camped in worse. All part of the adventure!” He looked in the direction of the oncoming storm.

We set off in the ute to the nearby rainforest. It was at this point we noticed how unusual it really was. At night it didn’t look all that different to most other tropical rainforests, but by day it showed its true colours. The trees were the most obvious thing; they were very low on average; truly large emergents were rare or absent. Most of the forest was less than ten metres tall from what we could see. It was also very muddy and full of bamboo, but this species had broad leaves and grew in tangled masses rather than straight up. There really wasn’t much forest on the road either, in ten minutes you could easily be out the other side in the heath country. The road itself was also very passable. Although it was dirt, potholes were rare other than at the bridges over the creeks, but even they could easily be passed with a small car. The Iron Range is a very user-friendly place from what we could see.

Because we had a ute with an open tray, there was absolutely no shelter for our worldly goods. We had left some at Paul’s, but the rest such as clothing and tools, charging equipment etcetera had to be carried in waterproof barrels; already the barrels had been drenched with rain, but everything was still dry inside. After some messing about the tent was set up and the airbeds filled.

Something strange caught my attention. A long trill rang out from a tree directly above us. Straining to see its source, I had my suspicions. Eventually I did find it- a small, bright yellow bird with green metallic wings. A yellow billed kingfisher (Syma torotoro) was the only one of ten kingfisher species I had not seen in Australia, and the one with the most restricted distribution in the country. Also found in New Guinea, it is the only Australian kingfisher with a yellow bill, which is serrated. It, like most Australian kingfishers hunts on land, but spends most of its time in the tree tops and is very hard to observe. Even harder to photograph, I could not manage a single useful image of the bird. The pair were occupying a termite nest in preparation for breeding. Like most Australian kingfishers, they gouge a hole in the termite mound and lay their eggs in it, the young will fledge in less than a month. This species prefers to nest high up in arboreal mounds well out of reach of most predators.

As the day went by, we readied ourselves for the night ahead. When Phil and I do the annual herping trip, one thing we do frequently are all-nighters. It is common to be returning as the sun rises. Getting wildlife images does require some real dedication!

Another bird called from deep in the forest, in the direction of the Claudie River. A deep gong like note “Gwarnk!” meant I was hearing one of the Australian birds of paradise, the Trumpet Manucode (Phonygammus keraudrenii). A black bird with an oily purple shine and red eyes, it is a fruit eater; this trip we only heard the one. I had, however glimpsed them in Papua years earlier. Regularly flying overhead were red cheeked parrots (Geoffroyus geoffroyi), a green parrot with reddish heads and a strange, short stumpy tail that makes them look rather incomplete, as if they should have a long tail.

All around the campsite another must-see bird was hard at work. Magnificent riflebirds (Ptiloris magnificus) are also a bird of paradise, famous for their display dance which involves curving the rounded wings up and swinging the head from side to side while calling for females. Females are brown while males are jet black with brilliant iridescence all over and lace like feathers down the sides. Males also make a “plastic bag rustling” sound in flight. The normal call sounds like a person whistling for attention: “Wheeew-wit!”. Imitating the call brought a female out into view, but against the bright sky photography was futile. These birds spend the day prying under loose bark and rotting wood for insects.

Phil badly wanted to find a brown headed snake (Furina tristis). A common species on Cape York, it is venomous yet the venom is poorly understood and can make a victim very uncomfortable. Steve had given us directions for a known spot in town where rubbish has been left lying around. Near there was a spot known for palm cockatoos and the funny little fawn breasted bowerbird, or “Pootchiwoo” as it is known to the local community. This bird was to be a massive nightmare for me in the following days. I found neither bird that day so I joined Phil who was ecstatic about something.

Brown Headed Snake (Furina tristis)

Brown Headed Snake (Furina tristis)

I found one!” he called out.
  I knew what it was without him spelling it out. Almost breathless he told me it was under a piece of roofing metal. So we lifted it back up again and managed some photos of this unusual snake. A member of the cobra family it feeds on small lizards such as skinks and geckos. Also under the sheet metal in other spots were a number of Cape York ground geckos (Nactus eboracensis), with claws instead of pads and white spots over a dark purplish body. It was now twilight, so we headed back to camp.

Nactus eboracensis

Nactus eboracensis

 

Soon enough the night came. The forest was alive with tiny Cape York whistle-frogs (Austrochaperina gracilipes), the repetitive “peep…peep…peep…” call was a pleasant background sound. These tiny frogs were everywhere, and they call from the leaf litter and will move about while calling. They have a great little trick – the eggs do not need water, only moisture. Males entice females to damp leaf litter where they deposit eggs. The male then remains with them until they hatch as miniature frogs – totally skipping the tadpole stage.

Austrochaperina gracilipes 002

Cape York whistle frog (Austrochaperina gracilipes)

 

 

We went on patrol in the car for a couple of hours, almost immediately finding a slatey grey snake (Stegonotus cucullatus) beside the road. These snakes are not venomous, but are extremely unpleasant to handle, exuding a foul smell and biting repeatedly. I caught a similar slatey brown snake in Papua that took over half an hour to stop striking at me and chewing my boot. Snakes from the Stegonotus genus have unusual teeth in the back of the jaws that seem to be for slitting reptile eggs. Normally a very common species, this was the only one we saw.

Slatey Grey Snake (Stegonotus cucullatus)

Slatey Grey Snake (Stegonotus cucullatus)

Dainty Green Tree Frog (Litoria gracilenta)

Dainty Green Tree Frog (Litoria gracilenta)

 

Further on, there was another snake we saw in a low tree. Also very common, we saw a few of these. Brown tree snakes (Boiga irregularis) are easily identified with the broad head, vertical pupils and distinct loreal scale (meaning there are three scales in a straight line from the back of the nostril to the front of the eye). This one was pretty lively and in order to get the shots I needed with the wide-angle lens, I had to get close. The snake responded by striking and biting down on my stomach through my shirt. It hurt a little and drew blood. Luckily, they are only mildly venomous and rear fanged. I have been bitten by them before with no ill effect.

Brown Tree snake, night tiger (Boiga irregularis)

Brown Tree snake, night tiger (Boiga irregularis)

 

One animal that was extremely common was the large tailed nightjar (Caprimulgus macrourus). We saw plenty on and around the roads, their extremely bright eyeshine giving them away. It was a simple matter to step out of the car and take a picture. Many had young and I wondered how many get run over as they were often less than 30cm from the road. These nocturnal birds sleep by day on the ground, camouflaged in the leaf litter and by night feed on flying insects. The chicks are surprisingly precocious, upon hatching can bite attackers, hide and feed themselves. This bird is widespread through northern Australia and southeast Asia, and can be distinguished from other Australian nightjars by the white tail panels.

Large Tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrourus)

Large Tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrourus)

Union Jack Butterfly (Delias mysis)

Union Jack Butterfly sleeping (Delias mysis)

Rainforest Toadstool

Rainforest Toadstool

Back at camp, I noticed something high up in a mango tree. It was a fluffy white and grey animal about the size of a rabbit. It had a prehensile tail and round looking face. It was none other than a spotted cuscus (Spilocuscus maculata) and yet another example of an animal that normally belongs in New Guinea. Unfortunately it was far too high up for any photographs but it was great to see this beautiful marsupial in its natural habitat peering down at me.

There is a track behind the campsite that goes down to the Claudie River. So we had a quick look around in case a green python might be there. In a weeping fig above us, I noticed another cuscus. This time it was the “rare” cuscus, confusingly named the “Southern common cuscus” (Phalanger mimicus). This species is apparently much harder to find than the spotted, and is also restricted to the far north of Cape York, at least in Australia. It sat dead still while we took photos, but my lens had fogged up badly so the image quality was rather poor.

Southern Common Cuscus (Phalanger mimicus)

Southern Common Cuscus (Phalanger mimicus)

 

But no green pythons. We decided to walk the Claudie track near camp and search the more open forest. Bats zoomed past as we walked, both insect eating microbats and larger fruit eaters like the eastern tubenose. They were all too fast for photographs, but some eyeshine in a low tree got my attention. One of the species I most wanted to see was right in front of me. A giant tree gecko (Pseudothecadactylus australis) had made a poor choice and was cornered on a tree stump. It gave me the full display while Phil was catching up. An open, black mouth and scream like a baby made it the coolest, and creepiest gecko I had ever seen. This genus has three members, the other two are giant cave geckoes found in sandstone country further west. This species is unique in having adhesive pads not only under the feet, but also the tail! Extremely photogenic, it posed perfectly before we left it to continue whatever it was doing. We did see more, though they were generally higher up in the trees.

Giant Tree Gecko (Pseudothecadactylus australis)

With a scream like a baby, large size and adhesive pads under the tail, it is hard not to be slightly creeped out and amazed at the Giant Tree Gecko (Pseudothecadactylus australis)

 

Tree frogs were also ridiculously abundant; every low tree seemed to have at least one in it. But we still needed to find a green python. I made the decision to go for another drive. We were wrecked, it was so tiring scanning the forest for what should have been a common snake. A couple of hours later we had given up. It was now Christmas (on the calendar at least) As we neared camp, I swung into another campground nearby and scanned the trees. My heart almost stopped. I slammed the brakes on and told Phil to have a look around and see what he could find. He saw it too. The brightest yellow I had ever seen in nature had caught my eye. Just above the ground, partly wrapped around a horizontal rattan was a juvenile green python (Morelia viridis). Its head was pointed down and it was in the strike position. There were tiny white spots and dashes, especially along the backbone and top of the head, each had a hint of red around it. Maroon flecks dotted the flanks. The snake was only small, at 30cm or so. This bright yellow (sometimes orange or red) juvenile colour is replaced quickly by the emerald green of adults.

Juvenile Green Python (Morelia viridis)

Juvenile Green Python (Morelia viridis)

 

To say we were excited is a severe understatement. Nothing prepared us for how beautiful this snake was in real life. Photographs could do it no justice, but we did our best in trying. It froze in position; the only movement was it slowly breathing. Never have I found such a photogenic, cooperative snake. It was barely a challenge to take the best snake shots I ever had. We left the python where it was in exactly the same position and went to bed, extremely pleased but also red-eyed and exhausted.

Juvenile Green Python (Morelia viridis)

Juvenile Green Python head detail (Morelia viridis)

 

Quick note: It is very interesting to note the extreme similarities between the green tree python and emerald boa (Corallus caninus) of South America. Both share the green adult colour and yellow/red juvenile phase. Both have similar diets and even rest in the same unusual coils on horizontal branches. In fact they are so similar, a casual observer might have trouble distinguishing one from another. The easiest way to tell them apart at a glance is that the boa has large scales on top of the head.

9 Amazing animals from the cold waters of Southern Australia

 9 Amazing animals from the cold waters of Southern Australia

Well everyone, 2015 has been a rather hectic year. No rest for the wicked, some say. Right after leaving the Wet Tropics, it was straight down south with my favourite biologist and partner Linda for a “meet the family.” Yes, she did very well, but no doubt you’re more interested in what we saw under the sea… More information for each image can be found by following the Flickr link.

9 Dragons of the Sea

Now these little guys are about the most amazing members of the Seahorse and Pipefish family (Sygnathidae). There are three types of Sea Dragon found in Southern Australia, two kinds of Weedy and one kind of Leafy. The common Weedy Seadragon is far more abundant than you may realise. In one snorkelling session I spotted over 40 of them! It does take a trained eye, and they sit at a depth of 3-6m among seagrass and sea nymph beds. Like other seahorses and sea dragons the male is the one that looks after the eggs under his tail until they hatch. This was the first thing we saw on the first day. Not a bad start!

Weedy sea dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus)

Weedy sea dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus)

Weedy sea dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus)

Weedy sea dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus)

The long tubular snout is used to suck up tiny shrimps

Weedy sea dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus)

Weedy sea dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus)

In the sea nymph beds they can be a little tricky to spot…

8 Little Sea Dumplings

Unknown to most people that visit the beach, at night a strange little character emerges from the sand, peering out with big, bulbous eyes.

Dumpling squid (Euprymna tasmanica)

Dumpling squid emerging from sand (Euprymna tasmanica)

With a coating of sand stuck to their bodies, they switch on a light from an organ within to cancel out their shadows from predators and prey below.

Dumpling squid with sandy coating

Dumpling squid with sandy coating

Dumpling squid with curled tentacles

Dumpling squid with curled tentacles

If disturbed, they become even more adorable.

Dumpling squid (Euprymna tasmanica)

Dumpling squid (Euprymna tasmanica)

Dumpling or Bobtail squid are relatives of true squid and cuttlefish. Many species are found around the world’s oceans, and they are nocturnal, coming out after dark to hunt shrimps. The sand sticks to their bodies and can be shed in one lump with a spurt of ink if the animal needs to make an escape. The sinking blob of sand must look and smell like the squid and may distract a predator long enough for the little dumpling to jet away to safety. These little critter live only about 3 months. I had to brave the freezing cold water by myself to get these images after dark!

7 Colourful Cowfish

I really don’t know how a six-horned fish with a tiny mouth and psychedelic fingerpaint coating got the name “cowfish” but these Temperate Boxfish are very common on deeper reefs and seagrass beds in southern Victoria.

There are two species, the Shaw’s

Male Shaw's cowfish (Aracana aurita)

Male Shaw’s cowfish (Aracana aurita)

And the Ornate.

Aracana ornata 008

Ornate Cowfish

They get around picking at small invertebrates on the pylons of piers, rocks and reefs. We saw loads of these on the dives and some while snorkeling. Shaw’s were most common on reefs inside Port Phillip Bay and the Ornate was abundant on the seagrass beds around Flinders Pier.

6 Blue Devils

There is no need to explain the reason these fish are the major bucket list species of the Southern Sponge Gardens. At Portsea Hole we saw a number of Blue Devils just hanging around at about the 20m mark. On slack tide they emerge to sit in midwater to feed. Blue Devils grow to about 40cm.

Blue Devil (Paraplesiops meleagris)

Blue Devil (Paraplesiops meleagris)

Paraplesiops meleagris 025

Blue Devil in sponge garden

5 Leatherjackets

Hard sounding fish, no doubt. Leatherjackets are also known as Filefish. Allied to the tropical Triggerfish, they are prolific in Southern Australian waters. They are all carnivores, feeding on worms, jellyfish and anything else that they can scavenge. Like their Triggerfish cousins they have a sharp, barbed spine on the back of the head which makes it hard for predators to swallow them. The skin is usually rough, like sandpaper. Here is an overview of some of the species we saw: Pygmy Leatherjacket

Pygmy leatherjacket (Brachaluteres jacksonianus)

Pygmy leatherjacket (Brachaluteres jacksonianus)

The only Gunn’s Leatherjacket I have ever seen

Gunn's leatherjacket (Monacanthus gunnii)

Gunn’s leatherjacket (Monacanthus gunnii)

Bridled Leatherjacket. A small species often seen in huge swarms in warmer weather.

Bridled leatherjacket (Acanthaluteres spilomenlanurus)

Bridled leatherjacket (Acanthaluteres spilomenlanurus)

Female Southern Leatherjacket

Southern leatherjacket (Meuschenia australis)

Southern leatherjacket (Meuschenia australis)

The unusual Mosaic Leatherjacket – a juvenile

Mosaic leatherjacket (Eubalicthys mosaicus)

Mosaic leatherjacket (Eubalicthys mosaicus)

Male Southern Leatherjacket

Southern leatherjacket (Meuschenia freycineti)

Southern leatherjacket (Meuschenia freycineti)

The very distinctive Horseshoe Leatherjacket    

Horseshoe leatherjacket (Meuschenia hippocrepis)

Horseshoe leatherjacket (Meuschenia hippocrepis)

Yellow Striped Leatherjacket

Yellow striped leatherjacket (Meuschenia flavolineata)

Yellow striped leatherjacket (Meuschenia flavolineata)

4 Octopus

Well, the Occies didn’t disappoint either. On every night dive we found them. In the freezing cold, we tried our luck at Mornington Pier. It was blowing a gale from the north which is very bad news for conditions. However we did manage to find a few nice creatures, but the octopus were the real treat. This Southern Keeled Octopus sat patiently for photos before vanishing down a hole in the mud.

Keeled octopus (Octopus berrima)

Keeled octopus (Octopus berrima)

And anywhere we went on the sand on any other night we were rewarded with the Sand Octopus, a species that hides under the sand by day, emerging after dark.

Southern sand octopus (Octopus karuna)

Southern sand octopus (Octopus karuna)

They are absolutely everywhere! Especially at Rye. We found them hunting in ankle deep water.

Southern sand octopus (Octopus karuna)

Southern sand octopus (Octopus karuna)

Southern sand octopus burying itself

Southern sand octopus burying itself

3 Sealing the deal

What trip to southern waters would be complete would goofing around with the resident seals? These playful mammals are easily found at Chinaman’s Hat in Southern Port Phillip Bay.

Australian Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus)

Australian Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) Or Sea Lions?

Australian Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus)

 As soon as we arrived they greeted us, leaping into the water and rolling around, stopping to check us out before jetting away at full speed. They were too fast for any good images, but it was a blast.Actually, on second thought they might be Sea Lions. I’ll have to check…

Australian Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus)

 

2 A lonely cuttle

It was a surprise to only see one Cuttlefish this trip. We were diving at South Channel Fort and I saw him in a little cave. He came out and just sat there, in a miserable looking cuttlefish pose. I did get some cracker shots though. The wide angle lens worked a treat.

Giant cuttlefish (Sepia apama)

Giant cuttlefish (Sepia apama)

Giant cuttlefish (Sepia apama)

 

1 Deadly beauty

Without a doubt the most attractive of the octopus is the Blue Ringed. There are several known species, all of which have saliva loaded with a cocktail of toxins that will kill you (after making you completely paralyzed in no time flat) if you handle one and get bitten.

They are shy and retiring creatures, the Southern Blue Ringed has been a major bucket list species for me for a long time. Here are three I found in as many days: This little fella is doing his best not to be seen. They do not like coming into contact with people and usually sneak away quietly.

Camouflaged blue ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa)

Camouflaged blue ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa)

When disturbed they do change immediately, turning yellow with black blotches. In each blotch is a bright blue ring.

Displaying Blue Ringed Octopus

Displaying Blue Ringed Octopus

This one was spotted on the bottom under Rye Pier late one night. I was the only one in the water as it was too cold for anyone else. This one was so big I thought it was a Keeled Octopus. It was about the size of a tea saucer- far larger than I thought they reached.

Disturbed blue ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa)

Disturbed blue ringed octopus


Well, that’s about it for now. There is more coming when I get some more spare time, but in the meantime enjoy my Flickr album for more images. (Opens in new window)