Did anyone else get the chance to go snorkelling on Cup Day? Our first of the season, and the conditions were fantastic! Light northerly, mostly sunny and 1ft swell, with visibility about 5-6m. At midday there were a few families on the beach but nobody else snorkelling.

We went in off the north end of Steppe Beach and had a look around the flat rock and then back to Horseshoe Rock and behind – definitely a high-tide location. There was a nice big female (rusty red) Herring Cale noodling around the brown seaweed (sorry, I’m not good with seaweed varieties), Purple Wrasse, and of course plenty of Blue-Throated Wrasse.

The conditions were good enough to see two Port Jackson sharks under the ledge just north of the flat rock, about 3 metres down. Always such a highlight! I only saw one Horseshoe Leatherjacket which was a surprise, and one Yellow-Striped Leatherjacket. The sun on the rocky sea garden was just stunning.

We stayed in the water for only about 40 minutes given that it was our first swim of the season, a little chilly, and we’re not getting any younger…

 

But then we couldn’t resist the thought of another quick dip, so we drove around to the Inlet, a great mid-high tide snorkel in flat conditions. We entered off the sand in front of the Inlet and saw an unhappy-looking Gulf Gurnard Perch which we’d never seen around here before.

There was the usual school of juvenile Whiting swimming over the sand and then, amongst the overhangs, we found the ‘fish cafe’ –  that always-moving place on the reefs where all the fish are hanging out today. Pete counted 18 large Zebrafish, as well as Blue-Throated Wrasse, Marble Carp and Sweep.

The thing we really noticed at both locations was how much bigger than usual the fish were. Could the coronavirus restrictions have played a role?

Let’s hope we get such great conditions for our Fish Count this year.

See you there!

Min Flipo and Pete Haydon