Port Hughes Jetty 2013 - Steve Reynolds

Our ‘Pipefish’ Dive at Port Hughes

January 4, 2016|Posted in: Dive Reports, Jetties

We held a dive at the Port Hughes jetty on 2nd January. We were doing a dive that had been postponed from the previous month.We had heard that many juvenile Southern Gulf Pipefish, Stigmatopora narinosa were being seen at the jetty at the time. The divers on the day consisted of Peter Gower, Chris Hall, Kevin Smith & I. A friend of Chris, and Kevin’s mother, were also there with us.
This was to be my first dive at the jetty in almost three years, having done a solo dive there in January 2013. It was also my first dive with Kevin in over nine years. Kevin had been a regular dive buddy of mine prior to his moving over to WA some nine years ago.

I can’t take any credit for this photo taken by my camera at the jetty steps after the dive. My camera had apparently gone into ‘tap’ mode and took a random shot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Port Hughes jetty

(Taken by Steve’s camera)

We all entered the water, one by one, together about 10.30am. Each of us had our respective cameras with us. Peter proceeded to film the first 99% of the dive with his GoPro camera (before the memory card was filled).
We headed off towards the outer-end of the jetty in a group, stopping to take photos along the way.

This was the very first photo that I took under the jetty: –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sponge growth on a jetty pile

(Taken by Steve Reynolds)

There were lots of great scenes such as that to come, especially any scenes, such as this one below, involving the Carijoa soft corals there: –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carijoa soft corals

(Taken by Steve Reynolds)

Our group eventually became fragmented a little as we spread ourselves out a little, just joining up again from time to time. There was much to see and photograph. A highlight for myself was filming and swimming with the large school of southern yellowtail scad, Trachurus novaezelandiae that usually forms under the jetty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The large school of southern yellowtail scad, Trachurus novaezelandiae

(Taken by Steve Reynolds)

There were a few Ceratosoma brevicaudatum nudibranchs to be seen, lots of cowfish (both species), baby pipefish and a rockling. Peter and Kevin (at least) saw a Port Jackson shark swimming at the end of the jetty. Here is a photo of just one of the many Ceratosoma brevicaudatum nudibranchs sighted: –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the many Ceratosoma brevicaudatum nudibranchs sighted

(Taken by Steve Reynolds)

This is one of the many Shaw’s cowfish, Aracana aurita sighted: –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the many Shaw’s cowfish, Aracana aurita sighted

(Taken by Steve Reynolds)

Here is a photo of one of the many juvenile pipefish sighted: –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the many juvenile pipefish sighted

(Taken by Steve Reynolds)

According to Facebook photo shown below, many of the juvenile pipefish being seen at Port Hughes jetty at the time were (Southern) Gulf Pipefish, Stigmatopora narinosa.

1604706_10208443679792446_4100716374272870686_n

Southern Gulf Pipefish, Stigmatopora narinosa

(Taken by Alexius Sutandio)

The photo was taken by member Alexius Sutandio and he happily gave his his permission to reproduce his photo here. It just so happens that this species of pipefish were described by former members Robert Browne and Kevin Smith in 2007 – see http://museumvictoria.com.au/pages/3660/64-browne-smith.pdf .

Kevin was diving with us on this day and he reported seeing hundreds of juvenile Stigmatopora narinosa, much less of Spotted pipefish, Stigmatopora argus, three small schools of Brushtail pipefish, Leptoichthys fistularis and a Port Phillip pipefish, Vanacampus phillipi (NOT philippi). Kevin has offered to send us some of his pipefish photos taken on the day. We will make these available to the public upon receipt of them.

Here is a photo of the rockling, Genypterus tigerinus that I saw: –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A rockling, Genypterus tigerinus

(Taken by Steve Reynolds)

We saw lots of crab nets (& crabs) on the sea bed, some of them abandoned by fishermen. Peter rescued one net that had become tangled on a jetty pile stump. I placed another net in the net of a fisher (man or woman) who would have received a surprise if they managed to pull both nets up.
We spent 90 – >100 minutes in the water. Chris and his friend apparently left early for another event. Peter was waiting at the jetty when I attempted to exit the water. I say ‘attempted’ because some young boys pleaded with me to retrieve their squid jag which was snagged on a jetty pile. I did my good deed for the day before clambering out exhausted.
We waited for Kevin to exit the water a little later on. Kevin had been the last one to arrive at Port Hughes, the first diver in the water and the last one to get out. Whilst we were waiting for him to return, I did my second good deed for the day.
A fisherman had caught a fiddler ray on his line. I went over to photograph the fish. He didn’t seem to know what kind of fish (or shark) it was. I could only see the belly of the ray as it laid on its back at first.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Southern Fiddler Ray, Trygonorrhina guaneria

(Taken by Steve Reynolds. My apologies for the water on the lens and the shadows in the photo.)

It had a pair of male claspers and no barb. The fisherman’s hook was still caught in its mouth and the two of us struggled to release the hook. When we turned the fish over, it was a lovely southern fiddler ray.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Southern Fiddler Ray, Trygonorrhina guaneria

(Taken by Steve Reynolds. My apologies for the shadows in the photos again.)

We quickly released it back into the water as it had been on the jetty for some time. It seemed to recover very quickly once it was back in the water. A nearby fisherman said that he had also released the same fiddler ray after pulling it up in his crab net.
When Kevin joined us back on the jetty, we returned to the car park to change out of our diving gear. We then moved over to some tree shade in the marina car park to have lunch there. After a quick chat, Kevin and his mother had to rush off to Kadina for some hardware supplies. It was soon time for Peter and I to drive back home to Adelaide.

Steve Reynolds is the current President of MLSSA and is a long-standing member of the Society. Steve is a keen diver, underwater explorer, photographer and is chief author of the Society's extensive back catalogue of newsletters and journals.

Leave a Reply