Conditions were perfect for snorkelling – a sunny day with an easterly wind making the sea calm and clear. A good number of Young Nats and their families came along, as well as Main Club members. The only problem was that with so many people in the water, including other members of the public, the number of fish was less than usual. Even so, there was a surprising number of different species there.
With many pictures to refer to, as well as the help of marine biologist Loisette Marsh, we were able to identify most of the fish we saw. Bob Willis shared his local knowledge and showed us the best places to go. Trish Gardner was a great help in guiding and identification. We didn’t have to go deep – many of the fish could be seen in waist-deep water.
Garfish Photo: Bob Willis
We saw schools of Buff Bream and Herring. There were Garfish (Gardies), which look a bit like tiny swordfish. Among the reef fish were Banded Sweep, Pomfret, Scalyfin, Moonlighters, Stripeys, Boxfish, Blowfish, Threadfin and little Blennies. Red-lipped Morwong were seen chasing each other in circles. We also saw Dusky Morwong. These were just some of the fish seen by Young Nats that morning.
But fish were not the only creatures living among the reefs. Maureen Gardner was able to catch a sea hare (Aplysia sp) that was swimming over the reef and show it to a group of snorkellers before releasing it. An octopus was seen in a rock crevice. There were sea anemones, crabs and blue sea stars. Abalone, periwinkles and chitons were seen clinging to the rocks. The jelly-like egg-case of a sea snail was spotted, and there were many seaweeds and sea grasses, including paddle-weed.
Red-lipped Morwong Photo: Bob Willis
Around the shelter we saw a number of King Skinks that live among the coastal vegetation and fatten up on the scraps left by beachgoers.
Mettams Beach proved a great place to snorkel. It might be worth a visit early on a sunny morning with an Easterly blowing and a calm sea. Identification books and charts are available from the WA Museum Bookshop and possibly from Herdsman Wildlife Centre.