Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Great Barrier Reef - Fish and Corals Galore

The Great Barrier Reef is full of action! It is all happening around you, fish and corals galore and nearly all of it is easily visible while floating around in the surface, since probably 95% of all the shenanigans are happening in the top 2 meters - where the energy of the sun can be utilized.

The denseness of life is simply breathtaking and at first it is all confusing, new fish darting around between each other, but after a while you realize that despite of all the different colors and shapes, you are dealing with a select few families of fish species. One of the points I have made here on the blog before is that, certain species will be attracted to certain habitats. Despite of the greatness the reef, we only visited one type of habitat! - No doubt that the great barrier reef contains an immense diversity of life and many types of habitats, however, it is also "great" and I guess the time it would take to sail to a significantly different area could just not be justified during a single day trip.

Well, nearly identical dive sites or not, it was still pretty good snorkeling :-) As usual I feel that I have to give you faithful readers a few names of what we saw: The large colorful reef inhabitant in the first picture is of the Parrotfish family - instead of teeth, it has beak-like plates, which allows it to simple bite chunks of the reef and pulverize each mouthful. The parrot fish can then swallow the sandy mixture and digest algae and corals while it is transferred through stomach and intestines.

Above, a species from one of the most popular saltwater fish families around; clownfish aka anemonefish. A certain Pixar movie might have been involved in getting the message across, but seeing a little family of these guys darting around their home-anemone is probably the cutest underwater experience I have had. Best guess is that this little group is Amphiprion melanopus, my fish book call them Black Anemonefish, but it looks like the internet likes; Cinnamon clownfish, Fire clownfish, or Red and black anemonefish.

Another darling of the reef, Six-banded Angelfish Pomacanthus sexstriatus, above. Great colors, fantastic fluorescent blue on the tail and easy to approach without scaring it away.

We also managed to meet an old friend, a Moorish Idol (below), which is one of the most exotic species that can be found around Sydney. Last time I saw one was a year ago in Clovelly Pool just north of Coogee :-)

Another easily identifiable species is the Blue and Gold Angelfish, Centropyge bicolor below. The beautiful colors of this little gem has made it a popular addition to saltwater reef aquariums. Weird to be taken to the various aquarium sites when doing a google search on something you have seen swimming around in the wild.

Good stuff! Great snorkeling and lots of pictures. The little Olympus was given a serious workout and there was not a single available electron left in the battery when the second dive was over. But what a great little camera it is, and how good is it not to have to fool around with a clumsy, expensive and buoyant(!) underwater housing.

I have uploaded a select few (60) photos from our underwater adventure at the Great Barrier Reef to a Picasa album, you can access the album by pressing the picture below.
Great Barrier Reef

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