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Carrickalinga’s Underwater and Coastal Wildlife

7 Sep

Dear Reader:

The drive into Carrickalinga along Forktree Road from Myponga is quite spectacular with sweeping views of the ocean, reservoir and surrounding farmland. On entering the township, it is a short drive north along Gold Coast Drive to the rocky headland which can be easily accessed from the parking zone by a zig-zag series of wooden steps.

 

Driving in to Carrickalinga

Steps at the headland

This area is a sanctuary which means there should be quite a lot of marine life to encounter. I change into my snorkelling gear before walking down to the beach and survey a couple of entry points then photograph one of the many rockpools. The water is cold this time of year and even with a wet suit it takes a few minutes to adjust.

 

Old Wives under a ledge

Red Bait Crab

Visibility is good and I work my way along the shoreline which has numerous ledges and a healthy covering of algae as well as some encrusting invertebrates like sponges and sea squirts. A large Red Bait Crab peers at me from its position amongst some brown algae and there are numerous fish species in the seaweed and under the ledges. Within a few minutes I have seen over a dozen types including: leatherjacket species, Old Wives and Moonlighters.

 

Track along the hillside

Half an hour in the water is enough today. After a quick towelling down and a change of clothes (and camera) I decide to follow the narrow trail cut into the hillside and explore some more of this picturesque coastline.

 

Locust species possibly Plague Locust

Nankeen Kestrel Hovering

The wildlife above the water is not abundant as coastal vegetation does not provide a lot of food for animals. I manage to spot the occasional Singing Honeyeater and I can see a Nankeen Kestrel hovering near the top of the hillside. Quite a few grasshopper-like animals are taking flight from the undergrowth. A close up shot, and an ID book later at home, suggests they are probably Australian Plague Locusts.

 

Rockpools

The morning is almost over and as I walk back I look down on the beach and rockpools and the turquoise colour of the sea. Along the path, I notice some Crested Pigeons on an old fenceline, a murder of Crows in the distance and a lone Willie Wagtail fossicking close to the ground; probably after a locust snack. Which reminds me, it is time to head for the Normanville Bakery for a spot of lunch before I take a closer look at the township of Carrickalinga later in the afternoon.

Cheers

Baz

In a further post (Carrickalinga 2) will cover a walk around the township and along the beach.

Cheers

Baz

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

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Port Elliot to Goolwa…A Wildlife Drive

20 Jul

Scrub and dunes between Coorong National Park and Goolwa Beach

Dear Reader:

A lone Silver Gull is perched on the parking sign next to the Flying Fish Café on Port Elliot’s picturesque Horseshoe Bay. Two hours should be more than enough for a fish and chips lunch while watching a few brave souls taking a dip in the chilly winter waters.

Parking restrictions…seagulls only

Across the bay, a fisherman is unfolding a chair and setting his lines for a leisurely afternoon’s angling. Perhaps he will catch a squid or some Flathead as we enjoy the same species on a plate and without the effort.

Horsehoe Bay’s old Jetty

I am taking a drive along the southernmost part of the SA’s lovely Fleurieu Peninsular between the towns of Port Elliot and Goolwa. This area is well known for fishing, surfing and whale watching in the winter months when Southern Right Whale migrate through these waters from the Southern Ocean.

Goolwa Beach and photographer

My next stop is Goolwa Beach, a long sandy stretch of several kilometres ending at the mouth of the Murray River. If the tides are right, I will be able to take my SUV onto the beach between sand hills and surf; a really rewarding experience. I am in luck and able to drive some distance towards the mouth. There are a few tiny waders dodging the surf while feeding on worms and other invertebrates beneath the wet sand but they quickly fly away as I get close enough for a shot. A pair of Pacific Gulls are more accommodating and I get a good series of images using full extension of the Nikon P900 zoom.

Fun in the surf…Pacific Gull style

About a kilometre along the beach there is a sign indicating a track that crosses the dunes ending up at the Coorong National Park near the Goolwa barrages which separate seawater from freshwater. This area is my next destination and I must drive back along the beach and skirt the town to reach the park.

Beach crossing to the barrages

The part of the Coorong National Park I am exploring is just past the barrages and consists of shallow mud flats, reed beds and small islets; an ideal collection of habitats for a wide range of aquatic birds. There are Black Swans in the distance, an unusual Musk Duck a couple of hundred metres offshore and a White-faced Heron hunting in the grasses and pools next to the road. Meanwhile, Singing Honeyeaters warble in the scrub between the park and the ocean beach which we were driving along just fifteen minutes earlier. However, the most exciting birds in the area are a couple of quite different raptor species which are swooping and hovering close to the shoreline. The larger bird is a Whistling Kite and the smaller, a female Nankeen Kestrel.

Singing Honeyeater not singing

Whistling Kite

Lunch and a couple of lucrative wildlife drives have made the day a success. However, the coastal town of Goolwa has many other attractions and I spend a further relaxing hour pottering around galleries and other small shops. To finish the day, I buy a bun and coffee at the Original  Goolwa Bakery on Dawson Street (established in 1912) before heading home via Strathalbyn and Mount Barker; two more SA towns with much to offer an enthusiastic nature photographer.

Goolwa’s Artworx Gallery

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby. 

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Hindmarsh Island ……Part 2

13 Apr

…….Continued from my last post about Hindmarsh Island……

White-faced Heron stalking

Dear Reader:

Having explored the little settlement by the channel I decide to drive a little further on this side island before cutting inland and heading to the Murray Mouth. A fortunate decision, as I spot a Royal Spoonbill working the shallows near a patch of reeds, a Black Swan just taking to the air and a heron stalking prey; all just a couple of hundred metres further down the track. Window down, some quick snaps and fingers crossed!

 

Spoonbill at work

Swan take off

It is only a five-minute drive to the river mouth but the wind has certainly whipped up the water and bent the grassy pastures. The area around the Murray mouth has a varied collection of shacks, the signposted entrance to a conservation park and even a pop-up coffee van.

 

Murray Mouth with dredge in background

Surprise…time for a break

Despite the blustery weather a tourist boat is taking groups from Goolwa along the sheltered reaches of the Coorong to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. As I lift the camera to photograph the boat I notice a Pacific Gull tracing its path in the foreground, a nice image !

 

Tourist boat and gull in synch

There is a sign near the mouth for the Lawari Conservation Park which covers 106 hectares at the eastern end of Hindmarsh Island incorporating natural coastal scrub and former grazing land. Lawari means Cape Barren Goose in the local Ngarrindjeri language. Over a hundred different species of birds have been recorded in this park and there are significant reptile species as well as Western Grey Kangaroos.

 

Cape Barren Geese

Entrance to park near the river mouth

The wind and cloud have made the Murray Mouth too difficult to photograph as the wildlife is taking shelter in the grass and shrubs. I turn for home and retrace my path down the middle of the island stopping at the memorial to Captain Charles Sturt who was the first European explorer to view the Mouth of the Murray.

 

Sturt memorial

Layby near the bridge

 

Just before I cross the bridge back to the mainland there is a shelter with parking, a barbecue area and detailed graphics about Hindmarsh Island’s history. I take a path through the scrub leading a to a lookout where I can Goolwa and catch a glimpse of an old paddle steamer at the docks. This visit and reading the historical information enthuse me to return on a sunnier day and explore more of this special place where history, culture and wildlife are so closely interwoven.   

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy drive and walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors. Hindmarsh Island is dog friendly except for the Conservation Park.

Some useful links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindmarsh_Island#Lonely_Island

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Hindmarsh Island ……Part 1

29 Mar

 

Hindmarsh Island ……Part 1

Dear Reader:

The bridge over the Murray River to the island is sleek and modern. Where it terminates there is a small layby and a short track going back under the concrete stanchions. A line of posts edges into the river. Probably part of the old ferry structures. Every few minutes, Australian Pelicans land on the old wooden posts and rails resting or watching for prey in the water.

 

Hindmarsh Island Bridge

After a while, the pelicans move off and land in the water near a reed patch. Another bird joins them and they start to swim in a roughly circular formation. They seem to be hunting; possibly herding small fish. My thoughts are confirmed when the birds tighten the circle and simultaneously dip their heads and long beaks into the water. The manoeuvre is repeated several times. Their movements are very graceful, almost like watching synchronised swimming or ballerinas with fluffed up tutus.

 

Pelicans up

Pelicans down

I am on Hindmarsh Island; Kumerangk in the language of the First Nations People who live in this area, the Ngarrindjeri. The island is an hour and a half drive SE of Adelaide near the town of Goolwa. It is flat and low with extensive areas of pasture, some scrub and a modern housing development with associated marina. There are numerous roads both paved and dirt criss-crossing the island. Hindmarsh Island is significant both in South Australia’s settler history and Ngarrindjeri history and culture and the creation of the bridge was the subject of friction between First Nations People and the SA government.

 

Fishing the channel

I continue driving for another ten minutes, past the marina turnoff on my right then the take one of several unsealed roads to my left which brings me to a shoreline where there is a small group of houses. Two fishermen are working the channel and I stop and chat with them for a few minutes about the marine and terrestrial wildlife in the area.

 

Orb weaver at work

Lovely, golden grass and patches of coastal scrub carpet this area and offer shelter to a range of animals. I spot some wrens and other small birds and catch a fleeting glimpse of a reptile near the muddy shore. Lizard or snake? Not sure. However, it is an Orb Weaver spider constructing its complex web that intrigues me. I watch the industrious little animal for some time and capture some reasonable close-up images.

 

Lapwing, Ibis, swans

My next stop is a couple of kilometres down the sealed road at a small group of shacks. There are short jetties poking out into the channel and most of them seem to be favourite roosting areas for both Black and Pied cormorants. Where the muddy shoreline and Samphire swamp meet, I can see numerous wading birds including: Spoonbills, Pied Stilts, Sandpipers and Masked Lapwings. In the slightly deeper water, a large flock of Black Swans are feeding.

 

Fascinating ecosytem

 

The morning’s drive and my initial exploration of the island have been quite productive and after I find a place to sit and have a bite to eat, provisioned from one of Goolwa’s many fine bakeries, I will head over to the Murray Mouth and Mundoo Channel to continue my day at Hindmarsh Island…………to be continued.

Cheers

Baz

 

Additional notes

This is an easy drive and walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors. Hindmarsh Island is dog friendly except for the Conservation Parks.

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Cox Scrub Conservation Park’s Wildlife…..Part 2 From Ridge and Bull Creek Roads

7 Feb

 

Track near Ridge Road entrance to Cox Scrub

Dear Reader:

After my initial foray into Cox Scrub from Coles crossing, today, I am entering the park from Ridge and Bull Creek roads. The Ridge Road entrance leads me to a long straight track which separates nearby farmland from the park. The scrub here is thick and quite difficult to penetrate. I can hear the chirping of wrens and other small birds but they are hard to spot and constantly moving.

 

Classic Cox Scrub vegetation

I employ a sit and wait strategy. The trick is to find a comfortable place with a good view of the surrounding area and not too many bushes and trees in line of sight. A tough ask as the sun must be in the right direction; silhouettes and side lit animals do not make great pictures.

 

Heliotrope Moth on melaleuca blossom

Having chosen a spot alongside a flowering Melaleuca tree I make sure my Nikon P900 is on a moderate telephoto setting. I might only get a split   second to make a shot with no time to zoom in closer. I am trying for bird images however I also stay tuned to the close undergrowth and bushes listening for a tell-tale rustle of leaves or the hum of an insect. For the first ten minutes the only animals I encounter are invertebrates; a moth on the Melaleuca flowers and a dragonfly resting on the sandy soil. Eventually a scubwren lands in a nearby tree and a pair of Crested pigeons start foraging on in the understory. Sighting that make my wait worthwhile.

 

Scrubwren species

There are clouds moving in from the south west and I decide to drive to my next destination before I lose the light or it begins to rain. Several walking trails start at the Bull Creek entrance. The tracks are wide and easy to walk but the scrub is still quite dense with less large trees than the last track. A kilometre along the trail I find a clearing where there seems to be quite a lot of bird activity. It’s time for stop, sit and wait, again.

 

Golden Whistler

This time I am rewarded within a few minutes. A beautiful Golden Whistler perches in stubby eucalypt about twenty metres away. Its characteristic call (loud sharp whistles ending in a whip-crack note) echoes through the bush. The bird is quite active and I set the camera to shutter priority firing at 1/2000 th of a second. The clearing seems to attract a number of different bird species and I watch a pair of Grey Fantails hawking for insects before returning to a perch on a fallen branch. There are also kangaroo droppings and several termite nests have been ravaged by Echidnas.

 

Grey Fantail

Though I would like to stay for a few more minutes, the first drops of rain start to spatter on my jacket. I tuck my camera into its waterproof case and head back to the car. It is time for lunch, and the Mount Compass Bakery beckons. A chicken and vegetable pie with a custard tart to follow. A fitting end to my morning’s work.

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk/drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors.

Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

Click on this link and see more South Australian stories and pictures in my Weekend Notes articles

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

Kangaroo

7 Oct

Kangaroo 

Dear Reader:

This post differs from my usual offerings which tell stories with images about a specific area in South Australia and the wildlife I encountered. This time I am focussing on one group of animals and providing some information about each image and what it tells us about our most iconic group of animals….the Kangaroos.

A mob of Western Grey Kangaroos in Belair National Park

 

Red Kangaroo joey being fed on special formula at Adelaide Zoo

The name kangaroo comes from the *Guugu Yimithirr word for Grey Kangaroo and was first reported by Cook in 1770. Kangaroos are confined to Australasia. There are six different species of kangaroo; Antilopine Kangaroo, Black Wallaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo, Red Kangaroo and the Common Wallaroo or Euro. The latter three are abundant in South Australia.

Young Grey Kangaroo males boxing

Adult male Red Kangaroo portrait……Cleland Wildlife Park

 

Red Kangaroos are the largest of all the ‘Macropods’; a term that refers to all kangaroos and wallabies and means big footed. A large male can stands taller than a man and weigh up to 85 Kg. Females are smaller, blue, grey in colour and do not have such distinct facial markings. The above image was taken at the Cleland Conservation Park which specialises in indigenous wildlife.

Adult female Red Kangaroo and joey at heel in flight

 

Western Grey Kangaroos moving off slowly

One of the most interesting features of kangaroos is their bounding or hopping gait. As a kangaroo hops the tendons in its legs compress and elongate like springs storing and releasing energy more efficiently than the muscle movements that most mammals use. These remarkable marsupials also use their tails to balance at speed or as a third limb to help them move slowly.

Adult female Western Grey Kangaroo with joey in pouch

 

Reproduction in kangaroos is also remarkable. Like all marsupials, the young, called joeys, are born in an extremely immature state. They move from the birth canal to suckle in the pouch where they develop in the same way other mammals would develop inside their mother. Female kangaroos can be pregnant, have a tiny joey suckling while another one is ‘at heel’ clambering into the pouch to feed when necessary.

Feeding an adult male Red Kangaroo at Cleland Wildlife Park

 

 In the wild, kangaroos are wary animals. Their ears are multi-directional and they have a good sense of smell and sight. In addition, their speed, up to 60 kph, and jumping ability allows them to successfully evade most threats. However, in captivity they are relatively docile creatures which makes them ideal animals in wildlife parks. For a photographer this means it is relatively easy to get good portrait shots and photograph some of their more subtle characteristics such as: split grooming claws, facial patterns, dentition and even mating behaviours.

Western Grey Kangaroos in coastal environment

 

Euro…Flinders Ranges

Kangaroos are found throughout the South Australian landscape. The more robust Euros like the hill country of the Flinders Ranges where their thick fur protects them from falls and extremes in temperature. Red kangaroos prefer the more arid zones and extract moisture from plants and can survive over multiple dry seasons without drinking. Grey Kangaroos are ubiquitous and seem to inhabit the widest range of habitats from coastal heath to dense scrub.

Adult male Red Kangaroo near Whyalla, Eyre Peninsula

 

Over the millions of years and isolated from the rest of the world by continental drift Australia’s macropods have evolved perfectly to suit our harsh and rather unforgiving environment. Therefore, the next time you catch sight of a ‘roo’ take some time to ponder what a wonderful and unique animal it really is.

 

Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

The majority of these images were captured using Canon EOS equipment and lenses.

*Guugu Yimithirr is the language of the indigenous people encountered by Cook while his ship was grounded and being repaired on the banks of the now Endeavour River after running aground on the Barrier Reef

 Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

 See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

 

By the Barrage

17 Dec

By the Barrage

Dear Reader:

A stately Australian Pelican glides across the water between the barrage and the reed beds.  This stretch of water is home to a wide variety water birds, fish and insects and even the occasional water rat.

 

Barrage and Pelican

 

Goolwa’s barrages are an intricate set of barriers between the freshwater expanses of Lake Alexandrina and the ocean. They are used to control the saline ocean water that once extended far up river under certain conditions. Locks in the barrage allows boats to pass through them giving fishers and other ‘boaties’ access to the Coorong; a long shallow waterway that runs parallel to the open ocean.

 

View from the track

Returning after collecting cockles

A paved road accesses the area with numerous interpretive signs explaining the history and purpose of this barrage which about five minutes from the Goolwa wharves taking Admiral Terrace which leads into Riverside Drive and then Barrage Road. Where vehicle access stops there is a small car park and a sign-posted track that leads over the sand-hills to Goolwa Beach; well known for its surf fishing and proliferation of cockles that are gathered for both food and bait.  

 

Pied Oystercatchers

 

I take the sand hill track over to the beach. There are several species of birds on the beach including; Plovers, Silver Gulls and the occasional Pacific Gulls and Common Terns patrolling the shallow waters looking for food. But it is a pair of Pied Oystercatchers that catch my eye as they delicately balance on one in the wet sand near the waterline.

 

Singing Honeyeater

Dune beetle

 

On my walk back across the dunes I focus on the numerous species of bushes, grasses and spreading ground covers that hold the dune ecosystem together. The wildlife is sparse in these harsh conditions but I do manage to find a large ‘weevil-like’ beetle foraging in some grasses and there are quite a few Singing Honeyeaters calling from the tops of bushes. There are also numerous tracks and droppings from kangaroos, rabbits and reptiles. I suspect that there is more action in the nocturnal hours.

 

Little Raven

Trudging through the dunes has been quite tiring; it is approaching lunch time and the wonderful bakeries of Goolwa beckon; or perhaps a pub lunch at the hotel.  As I climb into the car and head back along the lake one last animal  draws my attention. A raven is sitting on some weathered branches fluffing up its feathers and the light seems just right. Normally the all black birds are hard to photograph and the colours and reflections off their feathers seem incorrect. Down with the window, engine off to reduce vibration, rest the camera on the door frame and gently press the button. Voila… and now for lunch!!

 Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

This is an easy drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with parking and other facilities nearby. The walk across the sand hill track is quite strenuous though relatively short

 

See more South Australian stories and pictures in Weekend Notes

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

A Winter Walk by the Normanville Jetty

4 Sep

A Winter Walk by the Normanville Jetty

 Dear Reader:

It is a glorious winter’s day; one that reminds you that spring is not far away. The winter sun is bright even dazzling and it has brought the seafront to life. There are a few insects buzzing around the grasses that bind the dunes together and more birds than I have seen in a long time. I manage to spot three species of honeyeaters on a short walk into the scrub; a ‘New Holland’ a less common ‘Crestcent’ variety and a ‘Singing Honeyeater’ that sits nicely on a railing posing for a photograph.

 

Blue on Blue with a little woodwork

 

Singing Honeyeater

 

A small creek empties into the sea near the jetty and a pair of Black Ducks are paddling near the reeds while a Masked Lapwing tentatively forages around the water’s edge. Local Aboriginal people, the Kaurna, tell a creation story of how the creek was formed from the tears of Tjilbruke as he carried his dead nephew along the coast towards Cape Jervis. Archaeological dating of middens and campsites suggest human habitation of the area dating back many thousands of years.

 

Masked Lapwing

 

 

Where creek and sea meet

 

Like other beaches in this area numerous species of birds nest on the foreshore and back into the dunes. Perhaps the most significant of these is the rare and vulnerable hooded plover which I am lucky enough to spot feeding along the dune frontage as I walk south along the beach.

 

Hooded Plover

 

 

During the warmer months the suns are frequented by a wider range of species from brown snakes and sleepy lizards to mantises and butterflies. However, today is one better suited to a walk along the beach or some fishing on the jetty for mullet, flathead and squid followed by lunch at the Normanville Kiosk and Cafe situated where the jetty meets the beach. A wonderful way to finish my winter walk in one of SA’s nicest beachfront locations.

 

Lunch options

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk/drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby. It is dog friendly.

 

See more South Australian stories on Weekend Notes

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Lady Bay’s Delights

1 Aug

Lady Bay’s Delights

Dear Reader:

The little bird blends in quite well with its surroundings. Just a few metres away in a shallow scrape are a clutch of eggs that are equally if not better camouflaged. Despite these attributes the diminutive Hooded Plover remains a species under threat due to its proximity to human traffic.

 

Hooded plover

 

I am walking along the southern extent of Lady Bay just five kilometres south of the charming Fleurieu town of Normanville and around 80 kms from Adelaide. After a wonderful seafood lunch at the local golf club and conference centre (The Links is a championship course ranked 52 out of Australia’s top100 courses) walking along the beach is a great way to assuage the guilt of too much fine food.

 

Beachfront and breeding zone for plovers

 

Leaving the little bird to tend its nest I head north along the rocky foreshore and explore some rock pools that are home to crabs, anemones and a variety of other marine invertebrates. A mixed group of cormorants, terns and gulls eye me suspiciously as I get closer to the rocks they are resting on.

 

Cormorants and gulls

Over the years I have walked this beach many times and snorkelled amongst the seagrass beds and rocky outcrops that characterize the underwater landscape. In fact this area offers much more than just a swim in shallows as the HMAS Hobart was deliberately scuttled off Lady Bay to provide a dive site.

 

Magpie perch among seaweeds

 

After a fine lunch and a productive wander along the coastline it is time to get back into the car and continue through the coastal hills to Wirrina Cove; a different kind of destination on the Fleurieu Peninsula with its own story to explore in another post. 

Cheers

Baz

Additional notes

This is an easy walk and drive which is quite suitable for families and seniors with shops, public toilets, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby in Normanville.

  See more South Australian stories on Weekend Notes

https://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/651267/

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

Fleurieu Shark Encounter

14 Apr

Fleurieu Shark Encounter

Dear Reader: 

Many years ago when I was young and less environmentally aware I spent much of my leisure time spearfishing on the Fleurieu Peninsula. And, as my last instalment of Fleurieu Marine blogs I would like to share a rather interesting encounter with a pair of Bronze Whaler Sharks.

We were snorkelling off Cape Jervis at the tip of the peninsula about 10 metres offshore skirting the edge of a strong current that flows between the mainland and Kangaroo Island.

 

Classic southern Fleurieu coastline

 It had been a successful morning and the floats we towed behind us were full of the reef fish we had speared. I spotted a sizeable flathead on the edge of a seagrass patch close to a rocky outcrop and tapped my partner on the shoulder to indicate that I was about to dive down and stalk it. As I reached out he jerked backwards through the water. Not possible I thought, until I felt a solid tug on my weight belt and was also inexplicably reversed. In those fleeting moment we both realised that something sizeable had attacked the fish on our floats. We looked at each other spat out our snorkels and rapidly discussed tactics: stay close, swim calmly and get to rocky shoreline in one piece.

We made it safely and hauled out the tattered remains of our catch. Standing on a rock we could see a pair of large Bronze Whaler sharks patrolling the underwater channel that we had been fishing.

 

Bronze Whaler Shark

In those less enlightened days I carried an explosive spearhead strapped to my leg and with the exuberance and foolhardiness of youth we hatched a plan to attract the sharks then hurl a lethally tipped handspear at one of them. The fish were thrown back and in an instant the water was broiling with sharks, dead fish and white foam. The spear was hurled; it missed by a considerable distance but fired on impact with the water and sank to the bottom.

My expensive spear and powerhead now resided on the sea bottom which was still being patrolled by expectant sharks. Needless to say it was several hours later and with considerable trepidation that I recovered the failed ‘shark-killing’ missile. Foolish days but the stuff of memories.

     

Bronze Whaler Shark (Carcharhinus brachyurus)

Length: around 3m.

  • Prefers shallow coastal waters including beach and reef areas and will venture into estuaries
  • Varied diet of bottom dwelling and pelagic fish, crustaceans, squid and octopus
  • Often hunts near schools of fish such as salmon
  • Gives birth to live between 7-20 live young
  • Sometimes seen around Cape Jervis and in the surf at Goolwa beach
  • Attacks on humans are rare as the sharks prey on much smaller animals
  • On occasions, harasses idiot divers

 

Cheers

Baz

 I have recently spent time in Africa and the link below will allow you to enjoy images and text describing some of my encounters with the wonderful wildlife of Botswana and Zambia. I will attach a new image and notes to accompany each post.

https://wildlifemomentssa.blogspot.com

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