Sunday, 4 March 2012

Leopards and Turtles and Rays... Oh My!

A 4-5m giant Manta Ray that had a heap of Cobia as groupies and hung around for about 10 minutes. Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
Wow. Wow. Wow! What a day, and what a couple of dives. Today I ventured down to Byron Bay, to dive at Julian rocks with Sundive for my first time in the water with my camera this year (yes, I've been busy and the summer rain hasn't made the diving all that awe inspiring in the Seaway). And let me say it again... WOW! Five types of rays, the leopard sharks and wobbegongs were everywhere, and there were a seemingly infinite amount of other fish life to fill in the gaps between main events. Amazingly, those gaps were always short lived, and there was plenty of 'main event' action.

The Manta Rays were undoubtedly the major attraction of the day, and whilst we often hear whispers that they're about at Byron Bay, you always feel lucky to find them. Today was different, one would have had to be incredibly unlucky not to find them. The actual number of Manta's around was impossible to say, but we rarely went more than five minutes on either dive without seeing one. And some of them were big. Early estimates have one in the up to 5m range. 
A Leopard (or Zebra) Shark with another manta in the background (bottom right corner). Photo: Ryan Pearson
At one point on the second dive, the four of us (DD, Amanda, Seanan, and myself) were surrounded by mega-fauna. We had followed a smallish eagle ray for a bit, and all of a sudden we encountered another eagle ray. This one was a monster, and was so large I initially thought it was a manta (and some of my buddies surfaced still thinking it was one). However, it was soon dwarfed by an actual manta ray gliding right next to it. So we chilled out and watched these two majestic creatures glide in the current, with leopard sharks cruising in between them, and a juvenile green turtle feeding behind us.

Another Leopard Shark. Photo: Ryan Pearson
We also saw heaps of bull rays, my first ever numb ray, and some blue-spotted stingrays. Bony fish life included groupers, goatfish, sawtails, porcupinefish, and heaps heaps heaps more (as well as a loggerhead turtle). Oh, and I got pooed on by a manta. I spotted a large manta, and sneaked up behind him from underneath. As I snapped the shot below, I looked down and saw a large amount of my bubbles hit him right in the belly. This clearly startled him, as he dropped a load of poop, and shot off into the distance very quickly.
A large Manta Ray... with incontinence issues. Photo: Ryan Pearson
More pics from the dives below. I hope you enjoy.
Numb Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Numb Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson
Black Spotted Goatfish. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Red Throated Emperor (Lethrinus miniatus). Photo: Ryan Pearson

Spotfin Porcupinefish. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Green Turtle. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Manta Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson
Leopard Shark. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Leopard Shark. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Manta Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Manta Ray with his entourage. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Stars And Stripes Toadfish. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Leopard Shark with DD and a Manta Ray in the background. Photo: Ryan Pearson

A big male Loggerhead. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Manta Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson

DD, Manta, Leopard Shark. Best Friends. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Leopard Shark POV. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Peace Out DD. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Blue-Spot Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Master Seaman...cough. I mean Seanan. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Mandy. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Southern Silver Drummers (Kyphosus sydneyanus). Photo: Ryan Pearson

Lots of fishes! Photo: Ryan Pearson

A guitar shaped Bull Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson
Manta Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Manta Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson
Manta Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson
Leopard Shark. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Manta Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Manta Ray. Photo: Ryan Pearson

Leopard Shark. Photo: Ryan Pearson

1 comment:

journlaw said...

Super pics, mate!