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  Seaweek 2004    

Seaweek Discoveries in Victoria's Marine National Parks and Marine Sanctuaries
courtesy Parks Victoria

 

Port Jackson Shark
Heterodontus portusjacksoni

Harmless, docile and gregarious in nature, this seafloor-dwelling shark is commonly seen nestled in groups under rocky ledges. At night Port Jackson sharks venture out and explore the reef, their flattened rows of pointed teeth and their strong jaws enabling them to crush reef animals such as marine snails, urchins, and crabs. Often these sharks will regroup in the same crevice as daylight approaches.

Each October the females lay between 10 and 16 dark, corkscrew-shaped egg-cases that they wedge into ledges with their mouths. You might be lucky enough to find one of these hatched egg-cases on the beach.

   

Spotted Pipefish
Stigmatopora argus

Growing to 26 centimetres in length, the Spotted Pipefish is a master of disguise amongst seagrass, its slender body, green colouration and slow movement combine to provide cover to the animal from both predator or prey. Spotted Pipefish are ambush predators, patiently waiting for tiny shrimp and other microscopic animals to move a little too close before they quickly suck them into their tube like mouths.

The species exhibits role reversal of the sexes. It is the female Spotted Pipefish who courts the male, her colours intensifying during the breeding season when she is competing for mates. The selected male gets to carry the eggs in an enclosed brood pouch on the underside of his tail. The species is only found in southern Australian waters.

   

Southern Dumpling Squid
Euprymna tasmanica

A spectacular but rarely seen inhabitant sandy areas in southern waters is the shy, tiny, Southern Dumpling Squid. Rotund, big eyed, and iridescent, they are night feeders, burying themselves in the sand during the day.

These squid have eveloved an unusual symbiotic relationship with light producing bacteria. As juveniles, Southern Dumpling Squid catch the bacteria and nurture them inside special body cavities.

As the squid grows, the bacteria produce light in return for the squid providing food (sugar). It is a mutually beneficial relationshipbecause at night the squid is able to control the amount of bacterial light that it emits from its underbelly to match the starlight or moonlight that shimmers through the water above. This form of camouflage is called counter illumination and enables the squid to avoid predators like flathead when moving over the seagrass.

   

Common Stargazer
Kathetostoma laeve

Although the Common Stargazer is one of the largest fish found near reefs on the underwater sandy plains, it is hard to spot.
Lying almost buried, motionless, with only its eyes and mouth peering out of the sand, this bottom-dwelling fish resembles a pugnacious bulldog.

With its skilful ambush tactics, the Common Stargazer can rapidly lunge upward, its cavernous mouth consuming unsuspecting fish and crustaceans in one gulp.

   

Senator Wrasse
Pictilabrus laticlavius

Inquisitive and ever active, the Senator Wrasse is one of the most beautiful kelp forest residents of the park area. A carnivorous fish that hunts a wide range of small animals including snails, amphipods and crabs, the bright green males and reddish females can be seen busily slipping in and out of the kelp fronds.

During the spring breeding season male Senator Wrasse become territorial and can be seen swimming above the kelp, fins erect. Females release millions of eggs above the forest, and if these are successfully fertilised by the male, juveniles will float in the ocean current for 2 -3 weeks. Few survive this experience. Over 10 species of wrasse are found in southern Australian coastal waters.

   

Cowrie Snail
Cypraea comptoni

Beautiful, yet shy and elusive in habit, cowrie snails can be found on reefs in the park, feeding on sponges living on the underside of rocks. The snail can draw its skin-like mantle over its distinctive shell, the colour of the mantle assisting with camouflage.

This is one of the smaller cowries of the 77 found in Australian waters, being only 25 millimetres in length. It lays its eggs in a depression in the rocks, and then protects them until they hatch by 'sitting' on them.

 
 
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Seaweek 2004 Home
1 Get started for
Seaweek 2004
2 Harmful Marine Debris
3 The EAC (East Australian Current)
4 Fish Fact File
5 Dugongs
6 Ghost Fishing -
Reducing the impact of fishing on non target species
7 First View - Giant Crab at home on the Slope
8 I live in the sea: Turtles the ancient mariners of the sea
9 I live in the sea: Sharks & Rays - they're more scared of us!
10 Sea stars
11 Marine algae
12 Sea jellies
13 Crustaceans
14 Echinoderms
15 Marine reptiles
16 Fisheries and Aquaculture
17 Whales & Dolphins
18 Protection of precious wetlands - success in New Zealand
19 Seaweek Discoveries in Vic Marine National Parks
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