Beauty beneath the Surface

The reefs and rock pools along the west coast of Victoria only reveal their beauty to those prepared to get wet.  For half the time they are entirely concealed by the ocean at high tide, and for the other half they present as relatively unattractive seaweed filled pools scattered between rocky outcrops on the reef, visible only at low tide.

But for those prepared to slide into the kelp, the seaweed and the still water of these pools with a face mask and snorkel, a beautiful world awaits.

 

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While most of the pools are connected one way or another to the ocean through the maze of channels between the rocks, at low tide much of the water in the pools is still and clear.  The further from the breaking waves a pool is, the clearer it will be.  A glance from dry land as shown gives some hint of the plant life beneath the surface, but no hint of the beauty beyond.
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Prolific kelp beds dominate the larger marine plant species on this reef.
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The safest way to enter these pools is to sit on the edge, which will feel upholstered as it is cushioned with Neptune’s necklace and other seaweed forms completely concealing the rock on which they grow.  Then slide on your backside down the sloping wall of the pool on the slippery beds of seaweed.  To attempt to walk in this shallow water near the edge, with or without flippers, seems to result in me sitting down in the water after a fall or a near fall on the uneven rocks concealed by the seaweed.  As soon as the water is deep enough to float face down and prone without scraping rocks or sand, do it.  Gentle kicks with suitable fins will see you effortlessly gliding at the speed of your choice to deeper water.  At their deepest these rock pools are 12-15 feet deep.  But 18 inches of water is also enough to glide over the pristine sand and sea gardens.
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Generally speaking, views of the surface of the sea from above or below are not available simultaneously.   But the gentle movement of the surface of these rock pools can allow you to view both at once, even if only for a moment.  
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What a contrast between the bare rocks above the surface, and the richly coloured world immediately below.
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The unhurried visitor to this world will see the gentle curves and arcs of the water surface, and the mesmerising movement of refracted light patterns on the contours of the seabed.
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 Boundaries between ecosystems in nature are rarely so clearly marked as they are by the surface of the sea..
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These pools have an abundance of fish in them.  But mostly their colour and markings make them very hard to see in a still photo.  While snorkelling, it is only their movement that allows them to be seen.  They are only easy to see as they swim over sand.

This 24 second video clip shows the abundant fish life in the vicinity of a rocky outcrop with all sorts of hiding places on and under it.  In still photos of the fish shown swimming here, their camouflage makes them virtually invisible unless they are over clear sand.  This area was close to the ocean beyond the reef, and so the water was highly aerated and moving constantly.  If I were a fish, I would seek out such conditions.

The parts of these pools connected directly to the ocean have currents pulling out to sea on the outgoing tide.  But there are lengthy sections which are perfectly calm and still. I cruised slowly through them turning left and right as pathways presented themselves.  This 21 second video shows  me swimming through a wall of kelp which opened up into a wide and deep pool fringed by kelp beds.

 

I drifted weightlessly at low altitude over the white sandy trails through the rock pool labyrinth.  Enjoy some of the highlights of the tour.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Beauty beneath the Surface

  1. Wonderful footage John. The clarity of these images is amazing and shows that you don’t have to go to the barrier reef to see beautiful seascapes.
    Love your blogs – keep them coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The coasts in the southern latitudes of Australia certainly have a lot to offer John. I’m just experimenting with the underwater photography and, like you, I’m amazed by the visibility underwater in the places where these photos were taken. The diversity and beauty of marine plant life on my local reefs was another surprise. So much to see and explore.

      Like

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