Monday, 26 October 2015

Camp Cove Late Afternoon 25 10 2015

Camp Cove

Today I was sick of the rubbish weather and right at sunset I thought I would try my luck at a first dip in Camp Cove. Located near Watson Bay’s Ferry Wharf, Camp Cove is another elite beach; home to many of Sydney’s millionaires (with views to match). Due to its calm waters and abundant sea life, it makes for a perfect spot to set up with the family for a picnic and swim.

Camp Cove also serves as an important historical landmark, as on the 21st of January 1788 Governor Phillip made first landfall in Sydney Harbour here, resting a night before settling in Sydney Cove. However, the native Aboriginal people (Cadigal) have long occupied the Camp Cove area and their impressive rock engravings depict a variety of marine life.

Now this was my first venture into Camp Cove and to be honest I didn’t have high hopes. It was fairly choppy and was late in the day so visibility wasn’t great. However, I was quickly lost in the variety of iridescent coral and seaweed forests.

My camera doesn't do the neon blue justice.

A highlight was just how many Waratah Anemones were open. Named after the beautiful red Waratah flower which serves as the NSW state emblem. At low tide when they are exposed to the air, they draw in their tentacles and simply look like a small red blob.

One of the great kelp forests, which serve as perfect hiding spots for fish.

A Pin Cushion Urchin (aptly named I think).

Exploring the craggy rocks on the right hand side of the bay, really gives a taste of what the Sydney region might have looked like, before the arrival of Europeans.

The city skyline also provides an excellent backdrop for a Sydney sunset.

Despite the great scenery I didn’t manage to get too many decent shots of creatures; I did grab a few of a crab. Not too sure but I think it might be a Red Rock Crab.

A couple of schooling fish.

A few smooth toadfish; some of the friendliest fish about. They usually swim straight up to you, but beware of eating as they are extremely poisonous, in the past voodoo priests have used their poison (tetrodotoxin) to incapacitate their victims.

  • Plenty of room in the free car-park
  • Beautiful surrounds – great views of the harbour at sunset, awesome rock walls, and million dollar properties
  • Generally pretty quiet
  • A good variety of coral

  • Tough to get too by bus
  • No lifeguard
  • Visibility is not great after big rains
  • Jagged oysters abound ; potential for plenty of cuts (as I discovered)

All in all Camp Cove provides a decent harbour reef with the highlight being the amazing coral and beautiful surrounds. I am definitely keen to further explore the area but I must admit its not at the top of my to do list.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

A Week of Bad Weather - Clovelly and Little Bay Again

This week hasn’t had the best weather but I still managed to get under a couple of times, with a few kids from work. Really can’t complain about a job that pays me to snorkel. As the visibility wasn’t great and I didn’t get many decent shots I thought I would just combine the trips into one post.

Clovelly once again provided the goods with plenty of inquisitive gropers.

I also found another Common Octopus, but this guy was a bit more feisty and put on a bit of a show.

They can be hard to spot because of their impressive camoflage

I may have got a bit too close

Two days later and the weather was still pretty dicey but a half hour in Little Bay provided a few treats. The first was a common stingaree; a type of stingray that was first described by Joseph Banks an English Naturalist who was on Captain Cooks first voyage in 1768. They get to be about 50 cm and hang out on sandy shores and rocky reefs.

I also finally managed to score a semi-decent shot of an old wife (last weeks poor effort had been haunting me).

And two more Porcupinefish.

And a dusky butterfly fish.

The little guy in the back right.

I'm hoping the weather will clear up over the next few days and I can head to some new spots to explore.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Little Bay 19 10 1015

Thought I would change it up today and visit another of my other favourite snorkel points on offer. Little Bay! One of Sydney’s best undiscovered spots; it is a relatively secret beach that’s mainly popular with the elite locals whose mansions surround the beach and golf club. It is an extremely well protected beach, making it a good choice on windy days; as it is rarely affected by swell. The crystal clear, calm waters are also ideal for newbies.

Almost got the place to myself.

Although Little Bay isn't home to the bigger guys often spotted at other Sydney beaches, it more than makes up for it with arrays of colourful coral, schools of small guys, and some exotic fish you wont  usually find elsewhere.

I recommend jumping in just to the left of the wooden stairs that you enter the beach from and hugging the rock circle and slowly cutting laps. Make sure to check under rocks because this beach is home to plenty of shy guys.

Normally I don't care much about the plant life around me when I am snorkeling, as I am quickly distracted by the creatures, but I have to admit that Little Bay's kelp forests and variety of corals are worth paying attention too.

As Little Bay's fish are typically a lot smaller than some of Sydney's other beach's, my photos probably wont do it justice; but rest assured it is worth a look. Below are a couple of the schools I found today.

A school of mado out for an afternoon swim 
Juvenile Southern Maori Wrasse

These Black Tipped Bullseye's love to school in dark spots under rocks and ledges, and then venture out at night for food. I often find it unnerving when doing a swim through an underwater cave to come across a big family of them ... and their big eyes.

Before long I came across a bit of a treat, a decent sized Old Wife. I spent about ten minutes trying to get a decent shot. Sadly she did not seem too keen on having her photo taken, so this was the best I came up with. The name Old Wife is a bit of a lighthearted slur, as the sound this fish's teeth make when caught apparently sounds like an old wife complaining. 

Next up I came upon an unmistakable tail, I gave it a yank and got a couple of great shots of a decent sized (maybe 2m) Spotted Wobbegong. Although they are generally placid you have to be careful as I have heard stories of them taking on snorkelers who come too close to their hiding spot. The word Wobbegong comes from the Aboriginal language meaning shaggy beard.

After the highlight of such a great looking shark, the rest of the swim had a lot to live up too. Though I did score a couple of good shots of a Sea Hare.

Tailed a school of Squid.

 Grabbed a couple of free golf balls (no doubt from the nearby course).

 Couldn't quite name a black reef fish with neon spots.

Edit: These guys are called White Ear's (Parma Microlepis)

 And shot an obligatory 'arty' shot.

 What can I say but another great day underwater :)

Why don't I ever look great when struggling for air?

Pros of Little Bay:
  • Public toilets and showers
  • Very rarely populated; definitely a hidden gem
  • Awesome coral and kelp forests
  • Great visibility most days
  • Beautiful surrounds
Cons of Little Bay
  • No lifeguards - not much of an issue as it is a tame beach
  • Parking can be a struggle, especially on weekends as there is no dedicated car park. Though there are plenty of buses which come this way, which drop you at the nearby shops (maybe a 300m walk)
  • Bit of a lucky dip spot- some days I come across things I have never seen before and others I will spend an hour finding nothing but mado's and bream