Snorkelling

by Delia on March 10, 2010

The last two months have been fantastic for snorkelling – great visibility and lots of fish. Split Rock continues to astound me – and everyone I take there. Last time I swam out from the beach with a family staying at Daku, and we saw a striped sea snake in the shallows. Although venomous, they are shy creatures and won’t bite unless you really annoy them. We hung back and it swam off lazily. The shoals of black and white soldier fish which are always at Split Rock seem to multiply – and they’re cheeky little things and often give you a nip. I also saw a line of small cuttlefish. I tried to get closer but they just disappeared leaving only a small squirt of black ink.

Damsel fish at Charlie's Point

There are at least three big clams on the rock – and the anemone at the end of the split is still there, along with the clown fish that lives inside it. These fish have an extraordinary biology: they are hermaphrodites, so they develop as males first, and when they reach maturity, they become females and can mate and reproduce.

We also went out a couple of times to Charlie’s Point out towards the lighthouse. It’s only accessible by boat, but is one of my favourite spots. The coral is spectacular – a range of coral heads with all sorts of plate coral, and clouds of fish of every shape and size. There are also some Christmas tree worms – those pretty little red and blue and yellow creatures that look like tiny Christmas trees, and which flick back into their tubes if you disturb them. They actually build these tubes by secreting a calcerous substance – the tube is both home and protection to the worm.

I saw a couple of trumpet fish at Charlie’s Point, drifting along quietly, almost translucent in colouring. It’s hard to tell which is its head and which its tail – and that, of course, is part of its feeding strategy. it hangs about in the water, going with the current, and then ambushs its prey when the other fish swim unedrneath it, sucking them up. It’s a method called “pipette feeding.” Its mouth creates a vacuum and sucks up small animals by expanding to a size equal to its body diameter.

People often ask if there are any sharks around, and of course the answer is yes. They are reef sharks and well fed so they never show any interest is snorkelers. I haven’t seen any there for some time, but once we saw a group of 6 chasing each other in a circle just like they do in the cartoons! Normally, though, the biggest fish we see are the groupers and sweet lips.

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