Big Blue

  Three years ago I was diving solo at Bare Island in Sydney. (As an aside, I like how we name things in Australia. If you want to go skiing you go to the snowy mountains. Flathead fish have a particularly flat head. And Bare Island is pretty bare. Although it does make me think twice before going for a dive at shark point.). It was an overcast day with only a little bit of swell, a perfect day for a dive to take a few pictures. My plan was to dive the west side of Bare Island. On the west side you can see pygmy pipe fish, sea horses, port jackson sharks (depending on the time of year), lots of nudibranchs, red indian fish, and anglerfish. Twenty minutes into the dive I was nearing the first cave as shown in Marco Bordieri’s map below when I spotted two  black leatherjackets . The two leather jackets were dancing together in the water column, heads pointing to the surface, tails pointing to the sand. Twisting around each other, moving slowly up towards the surface, and then slowly down

Diving with Tiger Sharks

  One of the well known legends in Fiji involves Dakuwaqam,  the guardian of the reef entrance of the islands, who often took the form of a shark. Dakuwaqam ,while in shark form, got caught by an octopus at the reef off Kadavu island. Unable to escape, he made a bargain with the octopus. If he was freed he would never harm any people from Kadavu in the waters around Fiji. So that explained the fearlessness of the Fijians during the shark feeding – but nowhere could I find any reference to Dakuwaqam extending his generous offer to overweight middle-aged anglo-saxons. Beqa lagoon, where the shark diving happens, is a beautiful place. The beaches are long and unspoilt. On Sundays they fill with families enjoying the warm water, swimming and picnicking. The lagoon is home to some beautiful coral dives, with names like Fantasea, Million Dollar Point and Seven Sisters. But many divers come for just one site, Shark Feed. This was my first dive with large sharks. I’d seen the dive on a documen

The Pygmy from Sydney.

So, you’re living in a big city, what are the chances of you discovering a new species? If you know where to look…well, you’d be surprised. No need to organise that trip to a remote valley in the New Guinea highlands. This story is about a new species found in a city of 5 million people in 1997. To remain undiscovered for so long it had a few things going for it. It is small. Pygmy is an understatement. It is really well camouflaged. It blends into its environment superbly. It lives underwater. And as I said before it is really small…. Its scientific name is Idiotropiscis lumnitzeri, also known as Sydney’s pygmy pipefish. Lumnitzeri comes from the person who discovered it, Akos Lumnitzer, who came across it in October 1997 while scuba diving. The largest specimen measured so far was 55mm – apart from measuring it was also checked for steroid use as 55mm is big for a pygmy pipefish. Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay (another bay in Sydney) are hotspots for seahorses and pipefish, with 19