From the Log of David McGuire, Field Associate
Passing the 24th Parallel towards the equator we are nearing the tropics and the land here is rich and green with large sand washes and dry riverbeds indicating torrential rains. The jeeps all have snorkels and the road crossings are posted with depth meters for the heavy rainfalls when the summer monsoon visits. In the hamlet of Carnavaron we met with a local biologist Adam and Photographer Brad Cox, employees of the local water board, but both are avid divers. A former research biologist, Adam has collected seahorses and pipefish throughout the area.
With their help, we were able to pinpoint a few likely locations on our map. Adam directed us out to Point Quobba, 60km northwest, where we camped near a weathered rock promontory with powerful surf and blowholes effervescing like whale spouts into the sky. At dawn, biology mirrored geology as six Humpbacks spouted and breached beyond the point.
The water is much warmer here and the tropical influence is evident in the marine fauna. Our morning snorkel on the inner reef revealed Parrotfish and wrasses not seen farther south, but aside from a few reef sharks and some colorful coral heads, the team observed no study animals. At 11 we met Adam back in town and he generously took us out to the sea grass beds in the yellow submarine, a hard plastic inflatable boat. Adam had previously collected sea horses out on the shallow sea grass beds outside the dredged harbor. Dugongs and turtles also live in the shallow waters in the summer months, but after a few hours the only animal of note was yellow-banded sea snake swimming in the dense sea grass. Struck out again.
Watering up and renting some tanks and weights from Brad, we motored another few hundred kilometers up the coast towards the huge bay of Ningaloo, a whale shark mecca and with luck, a seahorse haven.