After the previous night’s failed attempt at getting in the water, Rick and I had decided to attempt a morning dive back at Portsea. Only a minute’s walk from the Dive Victoria Group’s dive shop, we once again dropped into the muddy water at the shore end of the pier. The murk was considerable, visibility improved slightly as we headed for the shallow reef nearby.
Soon Rick tugged excitedly at one of my fins. I turned around as he jabbed his finger in the direction of three bedraggled looking male sea dragons sitting in a small sandy depression. It was like a divorced weekend dad’s meeting, all of them were missing fins or parts of their tails, yet carrying the unhatched eggs under what was left of their tails – females nowhere in sight. Rick was ecstatic nonetheless, they were his first ever sea dragons. The dragons weren’t so pleased and promptly packed up and moved to another spot to continue whatever they were doing.
The shallow reef had loads of nooks and crannies, most of them had a resident scaly fin guarding egg masses, but under the deeper ones there were several stingrays, hidden from the surge and sunlight while swarms of bullseyes (Pemphris spp) awaited nightfall to come out and feed. Sponges and bryzoans of all colours carpeted the ceilings.
But there were no cuttlefish to photograph, so we headed for the pier. On a pylon, a beautiful blue and yellow nudibranch (Tamjba verconis) crawled over a red sponge.
One fish did catch me by surprise, and it was a lucky find. A small fish about 12cm long moved just enough for me to see it. Incredibly well camouflaged, the velvet fish (Aploactisoma milseii) is rarely seen though probably common. I don’t know much about these cool little fish, though they are probably ambush predators.
So that was about it for the dive. Here’s a seadragon’s head. Just because.