Secret Life in Shadow of Rock

Pink golfball sponge and sea squirts / tunicates

The image above was taken in Matheson Bay near Auckland in about 5 metres of water. It’s in no way extraordinary, however, it shows how many unusual life forms can be found on a small area in an ordinary place. The area on the picture is about 10 cm wide, it’s a shaded overhang of a rock so no vegetation can be found here, just animals.

The biggest shape, the pink spherical object, is a golfball sponge. All those tentacles with tiny knobs on their ends are the sponge’s “descendants”. At some point they will split off the sponge and start to live independently. More to the left you can see pink, brown and orange bubble shaped objects. They are tunicates – sea squirts. They are actually colonies of those bottle-shaped organisms. On the far-left you can see tiny green/brown polyps, I have no idea about their name. All these organisms have something in common. They are not plants they cannot use the energy of sun to feed themselves. They cannot move to catch their prey so they depend on a moving environment to bring the prey to them. They filter the water moving around and feed on micro-organisms it brings.

I am no marine biologist. There are others that would provide Latin names and deep insights into the secret life of these small filter feeders. My point is there are fascinating hidden worlds everywhere around us. I can get my scuba diving certification and start visiting more and more remote locations with more and more / bigger and bigger animals. At some point, and it can happen pretty fast, I’ll start to feel I’ve seen them all, there is nothing more to see and I’ll get bored. Or I can take an alternative route and be willing to see the fascinating among the ordinary. That can become a lifelong adventure … even if I am on a low budget and don’t travel far.