Feelings of Spring at Browns Bay

It’s the end of August, one can feel the coming spring here in Auckland. Last Friday I happened to get to the Browns Bay beach. It was around noon, low tide, I went for a short walk to its left corner (left when facing Rangitoto).

Walks like that one usually prove quite productive. They show you where the rock pools are, what you can find in them, where  to bring small kids that are fascinated by sea critters.

My one was productive too. I saw nudibranches crawling in a couple of centimetres of water, often reaching surface. That usually means one thing: Spring is coming, the mating season will be here soon, the shallows will be crowded with nudibranches and their ribbon-like clusters of eggs. A great time for macro photography.

I also could see something that leaves me torn apart inside. I could see an unbelievable amount of fan worm tubes, many of them sticking out of water. They were long, belonging to the infamous (infamous her at New Zealand) Mediterranean fan worm Sabella spallanzanii. Their fans are beautiful, I tend to be glad they are here, they are a great photography subject. On the other hand they are a pest, they should not be here. I am not a biology expert I don’t know if /how they are dangerous. They probably are not … in the very sense of the word. However, they certainly compete for food and space with the native species and I doubt they have an enemy that can control their numbers in our waters. Anyway, I will keep enjoying their beauty when diving. It’s not their fault we brought them here from the other end of the world.


Left corner of Browns Bay at low tide on a calm sunny day.


At low tide kids (adults too) can observe exciting sea critters in almost no water.


Nudibranches crawl in a few centimetres of water … the mating season is coming.


Mediterranean fan worm trying to get some food in a shallow rock pool.


Some fan worms get completely out of water during the low tide periods … yet they survive.


Mediterranean fan worm Sabella spallanzanii underwater … the fan is emerging from the protecting tube.


Mediterranean fan worm Sabella spallanzanii underwater … the fan in its beauty.