Tag Archives: crab

South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula underwater

2 Dec

Dear Reader:

 I am snorkelling along the edge of the reef just off Aldinga Beach. The water is shallow and warm with just a light breeze ruffling the surface. Below me the terrain changes from seagrass to sand with a little outcrop of rocky reef in between and I am intent on photographing the variety of marine organisms that inhabit these different habitats.

 

A patch of reef near the seagrass beds

 

The reef has numerous invertebrates clinging to, and encrusting its wide variety of niches and a biscuit star is my first sighting. This pentagonal little seastar can be found on reefs and rocky surfaces and has a number of colour variations between light orange to reddish. It has quite large overlapping plates on its surface and has an arm radius up to 7cms.

 

Biscuit star alongside sea snail on reef

 

Leaving the little patch of reef behind I start to scour the seagrass bed where it meets the sand patches. My choice of location pays dividends as I disturb a blue swimmer crab that has been hunting in the seagrass.

 

Blue swimmer crab does not want to be photographed

 

Blue swimmer crabs have large pincers on their two front legs and paddles on the rear pair. They can be seen moving along the bottom in weedy and sandy areas but often bury themselves in the soft sand and mud. These large crabs can be quite aggressive when approached and feed on live animals as well as scavenging. They are migratory appearing from September to April in SA waters. Taking female Blue Swimmer Crabs with eggs and animals under 11 cms is illegal and there is a personal bag limit of 20 crabs per day. These restrictions help preserve the numbers of this commercially and recreationally valuable species.

These invertebrates are just two of my many encounters on the reef and the bushland around the Fleurieu Peninsula and I shall continue this story in my next post.

Cheers

Baz

Notes:

Over the next few months I will be writing a book about the wildlife of the Fleurieu Peninsula. My posts will reflect the research I am doing and provide more detailed information about each animal that I encounter.

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Wildlife and Pub Food at the Port

25 Oct

Dear Reader;

It is a mild spring afternoon and there is barely a breath of wind to ruffle the waters of the inner harbour. A pair of sooty oyster catchers are foraging between the exposed rocks on the southern embankment. They are using their powerful blade-like beaks to prise shellfish from the rocks and dig in the sand for worms and crabs. The bright red beaks and eyes look like they have been painted by an artist with an exaggerated disposition for contrast.

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Sooty oyster catchers foraging at low tide (click on all images to enlarge)

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Soon to be lunch

 

I am walking around the wharves and shoreline of Port Adelaide. Originally nicknamed Port Misery by the early settlers who came ashore amongst the mangroves, mud and mosquitoes that once dominated the area; the Port has undergone many changes. Once a lively harbour that berthed dozens of ships delivering the provisions to establish a new colony; it is now a quieter, quayside community. People now come to the Port from the city, just 15 minutes away, to visit the maritime museum, shop at the weekend markets or go for a cruise along the Port River to catch sight of the world’s only urban dolphin pod.

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Dolphin cruise ship moored at the wharf

 

From the foreshore I walk past the pub and on to the old Birkenhead Bridge, the first bascule or lifting bridge in Australia. Glancing down at the old jarrah poles, driven hard into the river bed where they once stood as moorings, I notice that several silver gulls have chosen the iron clad posts as nesting sites. Every so often one of the birds lifts off its scruffy nest and checks the eggs, sometimes giving one a little push with its beak, perhaps to keep the distribution of heat even.

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Nesting silver gull

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Silver gull adjusting egg position

 

I watch the birds for half an hour. While one sits on the nest the other flies off in search of food further along the shoreline amongst the same rocks the oystercatchers were exploring just a little while ago. The foraging gull tugs on the end of a tube worm protruding from the fine sand and mud. It is about to extract the hapless invertebrate when a mudlark, usually a woodland species, emerges from a clump of nearby bushes and relieves the seabird of its prize.

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Mudlark feeding along the shoreline

 

Like the gull and mudlark I figure it’s about time for lunch and head for the Birkenhead Tavern and one of the best chicken schnitzels the Port has to offer.

the pub

Birkenhead tavern

Sorry, only one post this month!!!!!

Have been travelling overseas

Until next time

Cheers

Baz

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