Cape Peron Darwin Day Snorkelling Excursion

Main Club, Young Nats 11 February 2024

This event was put in place to coincide with Darwin Day, a day to celebrate Charles Darwin’s birthday on 12 February 1809, and by promoting science in general. But more for the Club, it was an opportunity to explore the diversity of marine life at Point Peron.

Point Peron was named in 1803 by de Freycinet in honour of Francois Peron, naturalist to the French Expedition under Baudin 1800-1804. The Parmelia landed the first settlers at Garden Island in 1819 and the colony was proclaimed both there and on the mainland.

At 8.00am on Sunday the 11 February we tried to find parking places at Point Peron, but many people had the same idea and had arrived a teensy bit earlier than us: divers, snorkelers, beach goers, walkers, you name it, but it looked like everybody had turned up, and not just for the coffee van.

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The Group at Pt Peron. Photo: Diana Papenfus

We had nine people turning up on this beautiful morning and we made our way to my favourite spot at the Point Peron outcrop and the start of Long Beach. It was low tide with barely a swell to speak-off and therefore easy to slip-on our fins and snorkels in the water. We headed out towards the mushroom rocks and a Bottlenose Dolphin was immediately spotted.

We saw schools of Western Striped Grunter (Helotus octolineatus) feeding on algae on and around the seafloor, two young Old Wives (Enoplosus armatus) hiding between the swaying seagrasses. We also spotted a Blenny, an Eagle Ray, a group of Catfish and several of the Dorid Sea Slug (Chromodoris westraliensis). These endemic coastal Nudibranchs feed on sponges.

On the way back to our start-off point, an Octopus was spotted in ankle-deep water. We returned onshore and listed everything we had seen, including a pile of dead Bell Clappers (Campanile symbolicum). I took several photos of fishes and of seaweed/kelp and algae. Back home, I identified the Common Kelp (Ecklonia radiata), a light blue algae as being Forked Ribbons (Dictyota dichotoma), but many more that I need a good ID book for. Maybe next time we will find other interesting marine life.

Jolanda Keeble