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Archive for April, 2014

Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour. There was just so much to cover when it comes to local marine life, that we thought it best to do a thorough four part expose on Sydney’s most glittering and flirtatious residents – aside from the drag queens, that is!

Port Jackson Shark

Before you get yourself worked up about it, these mid-sized sharks aren’t threatening to humans. They are infact intimidated by bubble-blowing, oscillating humans in the water, so go easy on these poor guys and treat them with the respect that they deserve. They can to grow up to 1.25m in length but generally are around 70 to 90 cm. They hang out around the reefs at Bare Island and Cape Solander. However they are found in many coastal areas in Australia, from Moreton Bay in Queensland down to Tasmania and Western Australia, and come in a variety of different sub-species in different areas.

When they are young, Port Jackson sharks have a poisonous barb for self-defence on their dorsal fin. This generally grows blunt as they get older. Like most sharks they have powerful jaws, however their mouths are too small to do any damage to humans.

The scientific name for them means ”different teeth”. This is what they possess. Small and pointed front teeth and broad and flat back teeth. This is an evolutionary adaptation for eating a variety of different foods like sea urchins, marine snails, crabs, molluscs and occasionally small fish.

Although they don’t bite, be wary of their hard heads and strong bodies. When they flee in terror from you, they are powerful enough to do some damage as they swim away.

Port Jackson sharks are known as the couch potato of the shark world. Unlike other sharks, they can pump water through their own gills without moving. So they lay patiently at night time, at the bottom of the sea for their next meal.

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Spotted Wobbegong Shark

The Spotted Wobbegong shark can be recognised by the skin flaps around its snout and the distinctive white, brown, green and yellow patterns on its back, making it look like a shag carpet and helping it to blend into the sea floor. The word wobbegong is Aboriginal and means ”shaggy beard”, referring to the skin flaps around the mouth.

They are about 20cm long when they are born and can grow to a gargantuan 3m in length. Wobbegongs bide their time in reefs and shallow coastal areas in Sydney Harbour, waiting for fishes, crayfish, crabs and octopuses to come their way. Mostly they stick to the southern coastal areas of Australia from southern Queensland to south west Western Australia and are endemic to Australia.

Although there have been reports in the past of divers and snorkellers getting bitten by wobbegongs, this has never been a serious injury or death. Attacks are primarily because the wobbegong has been trapped, stomped on or prodded. Leave these wonderful creatures be and let them enjoy their lives without troubles, just as you want to be left alone. How would you like it if someone came into your house and poked or stomped on you?

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Long Stays in the Company of Fishes

And no we’re not meaning in a Mafia sense of ‘sleeping with the fishes’. If you stay on-board the MV Cosmos overnight or for a couple of days, you will can experience first class service with million dollar harbour views. Plus you have unfettered access to these fascinating creatures living below the waterline.

The MV Cosmos is sumptuously appointed and can comfortable accommodate up to eight guests in world class comfort. There is a spacious foredeck and a swimming platform at the stern. Cabins come equipped with their own televisions and entertainment systems for when you retire for the evening. There are on-board BBQ facilities and an espresso coffee machine and cocktail maker. Basically everything that you and a group of close friends would need to have fun! Just bring along your cossies and snorkelling gear. You’ll be as right as rain!

We’re having so much fun, that there will also be a Part 3 and 4 of Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour. So stay tuned!

Stay inspired by the incredible body of water right on your doorstep with Choice Charters…

References
http://www.abyss.com.au/scuba/pc/Sydney-Marine-Life-c132.htm
http://australianmuseum.net.au/Fishes-of-Sydney-Harbour

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Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 1

In case you’ve been living under a rock in the harbour, you will know that Sydney offers some amazing snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities. It’s a really clean body of water. The proof is in the snorkelling too. A recent study revealed that Sydney harbour has more marine species than any other harbour in the world. With approximately 600 marine species found here in March 2013; compared to 530 marine species living in the Mediterranean at the same time. If you would like some inspiration to don a wetsuit and flippers, here are some of the most vividly beautiful Sydney residents, who have without a doubt, the best post code in Sydney.

Weedy Seadragons

These ethereal and floaty creatures look like bright purple, blue and yellow pieces of seaweed. Growing up to about 45 cm in length, they have a delicate leaf arrangement and seem to float and careen through the water. In this way weedy seadragons have fantastic camouflage and can be overlooked by divers, until you develop an eagle eye and can see them.

They have a weird mating ritual. Although nothing that you wouldn’t expect to find on any Saturday night at a pub in The Rocks! The female pushes the eggs onto the males tail and once there, they get fertilised. On average 120 to 300 eggs are carried. After about 2 months the eggs hatch and the babies are quite large, around 2-3 cm in length. They grow quickly to become around 7 cm after 14 weeks.

Mainly weedy seadragons eat sea lice and small crustaceans that they suck in through their elegant long snouts. Weedy seadragons are protected under fisheries legislation and it’s illegal to export them, eat them or sell them.

These little wee cuties should always be left alone in the harbour. They are endangered by fishing and the illegal aquarium trade. Be satisfied with taking underwater pictures and don’t harass them.

Blue Groper

This is the largest and most spectacular fish found in Sydney harbour. Any local who has done snorkelling in the area would think fondly and warmly of this sapphire blue beauty. Although named a groper, this blue behemoth belongs to the Wrasses family, and can grow up to 1m in length.

You will find it moseying through reefs, up to 40m in depth. The blue groper is found all around the east coast, from Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria to Hervey Bay in Queensland. If you make a racket and bang some rocks together in the reef, he will let curiosity get the better of him and come closer to you.

Sometimes a female changes into a male during its lifetime. The whole sex change thing is attributed to the size and age of a blue groper, this triggers the change. Also it’s thought to be a balancing element in the population. When there are too many females, some of them change into males to bolster species growth.

Blue gropers love to eat sea urchins and small crustaceans. Although please don’t kill sea urchins in order to feed the blue gropers, as they have their own place in the ecosystem as well. Blue gropers also like boiled eggs and beach worms, so try giving them these instead.

They can grow to an enormous size, up to a metre long and can live up to 35 years old. Although they were fair game in the past, and are reputedly very tasty, blue groper have been protected since 1969. It’s now illegal to fish them and fines apply.

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The MV Cosmos by Choice Charters

This is one of Choice Charters most sumptuous vessels. It’s perfect for a romantic getaway and is fully equipped with state-of-the-art entertainment, presentation and sound systems. There are stately cabins aboard that are reminiscent of a luxury hotel. You can bring along up to eight guests for your snorkelling trip, with a spacious foredeck an swimming platform, along with a swimming platform on the stern. The MV Cosmos is perfect for a snorkelling trip at one of the many amazing snorkelling and diving areas in Sydney Harbour.

The MV Santa Cruz by Choice Charters

Another option is the MV Santa Cruz from Choice Charters. This is a bare boat which means that you can ‘choose your own adventure’ and take along your own refreshments and entertainment for a great day or weekend of fishing, snorkelling and exploration of Sydney’s secluded coves.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour.

Choice Charters will keep you on the pulse and inspired by this amazing body of water right on your doorstep…

References
http://www.abyss.com.au/scuba/pc/Sydney-Marine-Life-c132.htm
http://australianmuseum.net.au/Fishes-of-Sydney-Harbour

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