Cemetery in Sullivans Bay

20/01/2017 (611)

My first drive after a long summer holiday break. The whole coast from Leigh to the south was quite wild, even at Ti Point wharf the waves were too big for photography. We headed back home and stopped in Mahurangi West (Sullivans Bay) on our way to Auckland. The family went for a swim and I for a shallow dive in the bay.

I was quite very silty, perhaps more than usually. Most of the encrusting sponges were covered with fine mud. The bottom was grey, with fields of tunicates in some areas. Unfortunately they seem to be clubbed tunicates Styela clava which is a pest. Visually those fields looked like a abandoned cemetery with tombstones falling off.

Note: I’ll send a message with some pictures to Ministry for Primary Industries so they can see how Styela is spreading in Mahurangi Harbour.

In the shallows on the flat rocky reef the situation was more pleasant. I’ve found a couple of brightly coloured elevated cushion sea starts, big schools of juvenile spotties and goatfish hiding in seaweeds.

I should not forget other interesting (tiny) critters: tiny jellyfish (less that 1 cm), nudibranches (Dendrodoris nigra and some other species, unknown to me), bright yellow ribbons of nudibrach eggs. Water was completely calm so it was a very relaxing dive.

Slovak

Toto bol môj prvý ponor po prestávke cez letné prázdniny. Celé pobrežie od Leigh smerom na juh bolo divoké, dokonca aj okolo móla pri Ti Point boli také lny, že sa nedalo fotiť. Otočili sme domov a cestou do Auckland sme sa zastavili na Mahurangi East (Sullivans Bay). Rodina sa šla kúpať, ja som uprednostnil ponor v zátoke.

Dno bolo veľmi zaprášené, asi viac než inokedy. Väčšina hubiek bola úplne pokrytá vrstvou jemného bahna. Bolo tam sivo, s poľami ascídí na niektorých miestach. Nanešťastie to boli Styela clava, ascídia, ktorá nie je tunajšia. Tie polia vyzerali z diaľky ako opustený cintorín s nahýňajúcimi sa náhrobnými kameňmi.

Pozn.: Zrejme pošlem ďalší e-mail aj s fotkami na ministerstvo, aby videli, ako sa Styela šíri v Mahurangi Harbour.

Na plytčine nad plochým skalnatým útesom bola situácia priaznivejšia. Našiel som zopár výrazne sfarbených hviezdic, veľké húfy mladých “spotties” a “goatfish”.

Nemal by som zabudnúť na ďalšie zaujímavé (maličké) potvorky: mikro-medúzy (menšie než 1 cm), nahožiabre slimáky (Dendrodoris nigra a ďalšie, mne neznáme druhy), jasne žlté prúžky vajíčok slimákov. Voda bola úplne pokojná, takže to bol veľmi pohodový ponor.

Sabella in cemetery

Mediterranean fanworm Sabella spallanzanii on flat muddly bottom of Sullivans Bay. The tunicates in the background create a gloomy cemetery-like scenery.

Red sea star

Bright red elevated cushion sea star Stegnaster inflatus under a small rocky overhang. The omnipresent dust cannot attach there properly so more colours are visible.

Sea urchins trio

Trio of common sea urchins Evechinus chloroticus around a small boulder. Note the tiny blenny sitting on it. Every possible surface (except overhangs) is covered with the fine mud.

Dusty kelp frond

Lonely frond of brown kelp Ecklonia radiata in the jungle of shallow water weeds.

Sea star on rock

Prickly sea star Coscinasterias calamaria on a rock in very shallow water (around 2 m). The vertical rock face is mostly covered with barnacles. Neptune’s necklace dominates the whole rocky platform which gets out of water at low tide.