Getting sub-aquatic in the freezing cold part II

Well, here we are moving on to part 2 of the Southern diving adventure. My mate Rick came over to have a dive or two, specifically a night dive.

After getting the equipment again from Dive Victoria group we set off to Blairgowrie, just a little way up the Peninsula from Portsea.

It was a longer walk in the howling wind up the pier to the drop-in point towards the end. As soon as we finished the descent I noticed a Pot Bellied Seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis) sitting on the pylon. I chased it around and around until it settled on a clump of weed. But the silt was too much and the seahorse kept turning away. I managed a couple of what I think are sub-standard shots.
Potbellied seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis)
This dive wasn’t so spectacular, the water was siltier, darker and other than mullet and a few leatherjackets and porcupinefish there was not a great deal about in the way of fish. But there were loads of invertebrates. The blue spotted yellow nudibranch was all over the place, as were sponges, anenomes, ascidians and hermit crabs.

Red hermit crab (Strigopagurus strigimanus)

Red hermit crab (Strigopagurus strigimanus)

White and yellow sea anenome

White and yellow “Poached egg” sea anenome

Red sponge macro

Red sponge macro

Blue and yellow sea slug (Tamjba verconis)

Blue and yellow sea slug (Tamjba verconis)

Ascidians on pylon

Ascidians on pylon. Ascidians or sea squirts are not actually invertebrates!

There were however loads of Southern Goatfish, (Upeneicthys vlamingii) known locally as “red mullet” though are not mullet at all. They feed by feeling about with their chin barbels for food, plunging their heads into the sand when they find something edible. They also feed above the bottom on fish and crustaceans.

Southern goatfish (Upeneicthys vlamingii)

Southern goatfish (Upeneicthys vlamingii) rooting about in the sand.

Mooching about over the bottom was a sparsely spotted stingaree. Not a stingray, stingarees are easily identified by the short tail. They do have a spine on it, and it is every bit as nasty as that of a true stingray. These guys are super common in the shallows of Port Phillip Bay.

Sparsely spotted stingaree (Urolophus paucimaculatus)

Sparsely spotted stingaree (Urolophus paucimaculatus)

For me, the highlight of the dive were the leatherjackets (filefish). The six spined (Meushenia freycineti) was by far the most common, though only juveniles but the coolest is the sponge-mimicking Pygmy leatherjacket (Brachaluteres jacksonianus) which, when disturbed curls its tail and does its best imitation of a sponge.

Pygmy leatherjacket (Brachaluteres jacksonianus)

Pygmy leatherjacket (Brachaluteres jacksonianus) imitating a sponge

Sixspined leatherjacket (Meushenia freycineti)

Sixspined leatherjacket (Meushenia freycineti)

It was getting way too cold, so Rick and I surfaced and walked back to the car in the rain with totally numb feet and hands.

That night we scheduled a night dive, however the wind had changed and strengthened. Trying to gear up at Sorrento was horrible, cold and windy. Touching the wetsuit with my finger sent a cold shock up my arm. Besides, the visibility had dropped significantly anyway.

We agreed to return to Portsea the next day for a final dive…

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