by Josh Moloney
Just four days into the new year and struggling to fit into a wetsuit with the ephemeral spare tyre around the midsection getting in the way, a small group of divers slipped into the water at Fairlight. This was the start of what was to become a very productive Sydney RLS season.
The weather conditions were mostly perfect with only a few occasions where we had to pull the pin due to poor visibility. At the other end of the visibility scale was one site in particular where born and bred Sydneysiders remarked on the clearest conditions they’d ever experienced (in Sydney). It’s not often you get 20 m vis at Bluefish Point!
Thanks to the good weather conditions compared to last year’s survey coverage (46 surveys over 26 sites), we managed to complete 73 surveys over 34 sites and haven’t quite wrapped up Sydney yet so well done everybody!
We’re still maintaining new sites like Boat Harbour and Cruwee Cove and revisited 8 sites that we couldn’t get to last year. We enjoyed returning to favourites like Fairy Bower, Camp Cove and Bare Island via shore but also The Blocks and Dragon Alley via the URG Club Boat.
147 Fish Species on Method 1
58 Invertebrate Species on Method 2
43 Cryptic Fish Species on Method 2
3549 Rows of Data
83710 Animals Counted
Both Eastern Hulafish Trachinops taeniatus and White Ear Parma microlepis were recorded on all transects but 3, with Crimson Banded Wrasse Notolabrus gymnogenis on 1 more transect than Mado Sweep Atypichthys strigatus which was recorded at all but 6 transects.
No surprises here at just over 24,000 individuals, Eastern Hulafish Trachinops taeniatus was the most abundant species being more than 2.5 times that of the second most abundant Mado Sweep Atypichthys strigatus. Yellowtail Scad Trachurus novaezelandiae were the third most abundant species closely followed by One-spot Puller Chromis hypsilepis.
The Lonely One and Only’s
The following species were only recorded once on transect over the entire Sydney trip. Keep your eyes peeled next year folks!
Two Spot Wrasse Cheilinus bimaculatus at South Maroubra,
Yellow-tail Puller Chromis flavomaculata at Old Man’s Hat,
Whiteleggs Weedfish Heteroclinus whiteleggii at South Clovelly,
White’s Seahorse Hippocampus whitei and Red Lionfish Pterois volitans at Fairlight,
Species of Emperor fish Lethrinus spp. and Grey Morwong Nemadactylus douglasii at Shelly Beach,
Blacksaddle Filefish Paraluteres prionurus at Oak Park,
Yelloweye Leatherjacket Pervagor alternans at Bushrangers Bay Bass Point,
Spotted Dragonet Repomucenus calcaratus at Gordons Bay.
The Long-spine Urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii was the most abundant in the M2 category being recorded on all but 3 transects. The Common Tent Shell Astralium tentoriformis was found on all but 6 transects and way ahead of the Halfbanded Seaperch Hypoplectrodes maccullochi which was recorded on all but 27 transects.
The Long-spine Urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii was also, by a longshot the most abundant species again being 3 times as numerous as the Common Tent Shell Astralium tentoriformis in second place which in turn was 8 times as numerous as the Smallscale Bullseye Pempheris compressa.
The Lonely One and Only’s
There were 33 species in the M2 category recorded once on transect over the Sydney trip which included some interesting finds such as an Anemone Hermit Dardanus pedunculatus at Fairlight, Needle Spined Urchin Echinostrephus aciculatus at Fairy Bower, Flat Rock Crab Percnon planissimum at Dragon Alley and a species of Dwarfgoby Eviota spp. (photo below) at Green Point, Camp Cove.
It was a very successful trip this time round so thanks again to everyone for your support, hope to survey with you all again next year!
Thanks to the Boat Sitters: Denise & John V, Janet & Michael.
And Divers: Janet, Michael, Kris, John T, Martin, Louise, Yanir, Lana, Shannen, Sophie and Josh.