From the Log of David McGuire, Field Associate
Inspired by Norah’s discovery, we take a small open boat out early next morning to Eagle Bluff, skating south over the clear shallows of the bay. An hour later we sighted a few small sharks including a Wobegong (which woefully I did not see, having struggled with a flooded camera housing); some nice schools of trevally, emperor fish, blue damsels and several species of wrasses among the coral heads: but no sygnathids.
It was nearly uninhabited, a flat blue bay and a lot of red dirt. The pelicans and cormorants are a pied black and white and nest on the small islands off the bluff. But for their coloration they could be the same as those that live off Baja and California. Hours in the water are fruitless and the weather is turning from pleasantly sunny and mildly cool to a blustery breeze and dark wet menacing clouds.
The following day we boated in the rain to Morgan reef – a “muck dive” in the shipping lane in about 15 meters, where we thought we had a chance of observing syngnathids. The squally weather with a strong wind blowing against the tide turned into a steep chop and strong surface current. As Dive Master, I tended the vessel while the others dived the bottom: surfacing 45 minutes later in another fruitless venture. Perfect habitat, lots of food – where were our fish?
On the way in, we snorkeled the shallow sea grass for over an hour but again without luck. With the rain and wind and absence of fish, we packed up and bid our adieus and headed North to the town of Carnavaron, another 300 k away. Typical of what we have experienced throughout the expedition, the crew at Ocean Park were so friendly and helpful and it was hard to depart before the promise of a BBQ with the crew: but our duty to find syngnathid fish prevails.