Under the sea

A guest post by Willie for Notes from Africa

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Sea anemones and spiny sea urchins being washed over by the current. ©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

This song immediately came to mind while I was taking the photos. Days later I still cannot get this song out of my head. So you follow the link below at your own peril!

The seaweed is always greener
In somebody else’s lake
You dream about going up there
But that is a big mistake
Just look at the world around you
Right here on the ocean floor
Such wonderful things surround you
What more is you lookin’ for?
 
Under the sea
Under the sea
 
Lyrics from: “Under The Sea” featured in the film “The Little Mermaid”. You can link to the song here.
 

One of my favourite fishing spots is over an hour’s brisk walk away from the closest parking area. Walking in is the only way to reach this spot, which has certainly helped to conserve the sea life there. The features that attract me to this area include the excellent fishing, but also the rock pools which have an abundance of sea creatures. As most people are not prepared to walk in, there will at most only be a couple of fisherman in the area. So the solitude also adds to the attraction.

One of my favourite fishing spots ©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

One of my favourite fishing spots on a rainy day. ©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

Fishing is quite often an excuse to relax and stare at the sea. Mostly we do catch and release of especially the larger fish, which play an important part in the reproductive cycle. During the fishing waiting game, I have studied the rock pools for many hours in anticipation for Musselcracker or Galjoen making their presence known. The rock pools are well stocked with octopus and their favourite food, brown crabs. In midsummer some multi-coloured tropical fish and small swimming prawns also make their appearance.

After the recent post “flood of urchins”, I thought it would be brilliant to get some photographs of the urchins alive and well in some rock pools. I took my camera, in a waterproof housing, along on a recent trip. It was raining for the most of the day and the muted light made it possible to take some pictures without there being too many shadows. The multi-coloured sea-urchins, anemones, shells, octopus, crabs, plants and occasional crayfish makes for a brilliant photo opportunity. Some of the other interesting shells like Venus-ear did not photograph well and have not been included in this post.

The first photo below shows the coastline with the  rock pools in the background. While it was possible to take good pictures in the pools, the drab day did not make it possible to take more interesting pictures of the pools. Focussing the camera under the water was quite difficult at first, because of the water distortion and the difficulty of seeing the display clearly.

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Rock-pools where the photos were taken. WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

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Electric blue anemone. ©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

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One of the few starfish in these rock-pools. You rarely find octopus and starfish in the same pools. ©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

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One of the two octopuses living in the same rock-pool. See video at bottom of post. ©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

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This crab (in another rock-pool) was eaten by the octopus below. ©WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com

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Below is a short video of the two octopuses living in this rock-pool “in action” .

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Categories: Guest Bloggers, Nature/Environment, Photography

Author:Willie

I am a forestry scientist living and working in the Southern Cape, South Africa.

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23 Comments on “Under the sea”

  1. December 17, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    WOW wow wow- great pics! Unbelievable colors! Thanks

    • Willie
      December 18, 2012 at 7:10 am #

      Thanks Emily, some of the colours were certainly unexpected. I also found the “highlights” on some of the anemones very interesting.

  2. December 17, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    I love this! I wish I had been there.

    • Willie
      December 18, 2012 at 7:11 am #

      Thanks Debra. Glad I could bring you some of these pictures. I not only found the colours interesting but also the smooth texture of the anemones in the first and especially the last pictures very surprising.

  3. December 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    Oh my! These are really cool, Willie!!

    The rock pools here are really drab in comparison.

    • Willie
      December 18, 2012 at 7:11 am #

      Thanks Riekie. I would have thought that with all the nice shells in your area that there could be some interesting creatures in your local rock pools ?

      • December 18, 2012 at 9:41 am #

        Yes, we have no shortage on shells but I don’t often see any colourful life forms in the pools. You’ll have to come visit with your new camera and show me what lives here ;) I’m too scared to take my camera that close to the deeper rock pools :)

  4. December 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Willie, these images are just exquisite. I too, have spent many hours exploring rock pools with camera in hand. Fascinating ecosystems and entertaining activities. Thanks for the great post!

    • Willie
      December 18, 2012 at 7:12 am #

      Thanks Madoqua. It was the first time that I could get pictures “under the sea” and it was really good fun.

  5. December 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    Absolutely breath taking photographs. Thank you so much for taking us down the sea :-)

    • Willie
      December 18, 2012 at 7:13 am #

      Thanks Rayya. It is my pleasure. I find the behaviour of the octopuses very interesting, especially how aggressive they will pursue another smaller octopus in the same area. I missed the octopus rushing and catching the crab as a wave came over, damn. I also enjoyed the part in the video that show how they circulate water for breathing.

  6. December 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Thank you for bringing part of your world into mine. (I’m in the upper midwest of the USA.) I used to have a 55 gallon salt water fish tank. Anemones and urchins like these are an aquarist’s dream.

    • Willie
      December 18, 2012 at 7:13 am #

      Thanks Julie. I am glad I do not need to maintain a large salt water tank, I can just nip over to the rock pools I check out the sea life there.

  7. Estie
    December 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    unbelievable! Did not know you still get places like that.

    • Willie
      December 18, 2012 at 7:14 am #

      Thanks Estie. Yes, hard to believe, but if you spend enough time it is sometimes amazing what you will find. The electric blue colour was certainly astonishing as the sea in our area cannot be classed as tropical, locally the sea temperatures typically range between 14 to 21 degrees Celsius.

  8. December 17, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    That is super cool. The octopus video was especially neat. I’ve never seen one in action before.
    Are the urchins soft to the touch or prickly?

    • Willie
      December 18, 2012 at 7:15 am #

      Thanks Jackie. Glad you enjoyed the video. I agree, the octopus in action is quite cool. For the video I have to work on the focus as well as the zoom noise, which is quite loud in the waterproof housing. The spines of the urchins are very hard and they pierce your skin easily, they come equipped with small barbs and is an absolute mission to remove – do not handle without gloves. The octopus do not hide between the urchins for nothing.

  9. Eha
    December 18, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    Fascinatingly interesting! Incredibly beautiful! Hope I may share with friends, especially those with children!

    • Willie
      December 18, 2012 at 7:16 am #

      Thanks Eha, glad you found the pictures as beautiful as we did. Hope your friends enjoy it as much!! Some of the anemones looks like props from a children story, just more interesting.

  10. Eha
    December 18, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Hugely more interesting and beautiful: methinks we all are allowed to be ‘children’ in this instance. Above all, it was such a beautiful and interesting experience on a day many did not in post and honoured the Newtown Massacre in the US. At least this was truly natural and unforgettable for all days to come!

  11. January 15, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    A fascinating series of pictures, Willie; how handy to have a camera with an underwater casing! Those are some stunning colours you captured. And I didn’t know that this is what octopuses look like – a bit like a round blob of still-wet cement! :-) Fascinating!

    I am glad that this place is so far off the beaten track, and hope it will stay like that for a long time, as that is clearly why it is in such a good condition.

    • Willie
      January 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

      Thanks Reggie. I agree it is nice to have remote pristine spots to visit. I have been thinking of capturing the sea life in these pools for a while and it was good to finally do it.
      I had a choice between getting a robust compact camera (cheaper, smaller, easier to lug around) or a high quality compact camera with a water proof casing (higher quality pictures, good zoom) – I am glad a chose the second option and have been having fun using it on my beach trips.
      The octopuses can actually change colours and even patterns very rapidly, changing from wet cement to darker red/brown colours. As a last resort, they will squirt ink to evade capture.

  12. February 20, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    Gonna have that song in my head all day. It’s not even on my MP3. OH THE PAIN. Some amazing photos though, well done!

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