This week hasn’t been the greatest in terms of productivity, I am sad to say. It’s already Sunday and I am not any closer to completing any tasks or personal goals I set myself this week. However, I don’t wish to focus on that in this post, rather on the lovely last two days I just had! Friday afternoon was a treat, with a trip to Wollongong Harbour with Chantelle and Marina for a ride in a boat for our Oceanography class. It felt amazing to get out onto the ocean as we speeded along and the fresh ocean air rushed across my face. It was so cool too, to get our hands dirty with the plankton sampling, handling the equipment and seeing how it is done. On the jetty we spotted the Belmore basin resident sting ray, a huge (over at least a metre or even two) giant of a fish! As we stood there trying to spot more fish a pelican swooped by us before landing on a lamp post to tend to his feathers and settle down for a snooze. The relaxing atmosphere of the harbour, and all it’s animal really were uplifting. Afterwards Chantelle and I decided to prolong our seaside afternoon and went for chips at Levendi’s before pottering around to North Gong beach via the rock pools and rocky shores. We peared into the clear water of the rocky pools and I was amazed to see the dazzling colours and activity of small fish. In my entire stay at Wollongong it hadn’t hit me that it was equally as colourful as the Great Barrier Reef in terms of marine life, but here I was staring into the rock pool, seeing bright pinks, yellows, and stripes. We carried onwards from the rock pool, where people were having an afternoon swim, towards the rocky shores to explore the little round circular pools that mother nature had carved out herself so beautifully. The natural rocky grooves were so deep, and inside each one of them were little worlds of green and red algae forests of corralina, hormosira and sargassum, sponges and anemones, making home for star fish, sea urchins, fish, marine snails and so much more. As the tide continued to draw back and the sun continued to set, the sooty oyster catchers could be seen feeding, their jet black coats and striking red beaks and feet lit up by the warm, golden light.
The next day I woke up early to head out to the rock pools for an early morning swim with Chantelle and our friends, Sara and Lucie. We were so inspired by all the fish we saw there yesterday we absolutely had to return with snorkel masks again and see them up and close underwater. Perhaps a bit too eager, we arrived still as the tide was at a high, and came across a very disturbed rock pool, fighting against the incoming crashing waves of the ocean. Luckily the tide would start to pull out again shortly, so we jumped into the water and enjoyed the fun. As it got calmer the fish re-emerged from their sanctuaries, from between rocky cracks and vegetation, and we watched in amazement the thriving life that was right infront of us. We saw (mind you this is only guessing from images/Google searches) toad fish, leatherjackets, flutemouths, fivelined cardinal fish (?), stripeys, Indo-pacific and scissortail sergeants, treadfin butterflyfish and dusky butterfly fish. All small and juvenile like, the rock pool we concluded, must be a nursary ground or an entrapment of weak swimming fish brought in by crashing waves at high tide. Time flew by and eventually we were just Lucie and I left. We enjoyed splashing around, doing silly moves, and taking silly selfies of ourselves in the water with the GoPro. Eventually we tired and sat ourselves down on the rocks to dry off in the sun. We picked up pretty stones, shells and colourful, smooth glass fragments from bellow our feet and complained about uni work before heading back home on the bus.