World Oceans Day 2011

In 2009 the United Nations officially declared June 8th each year as World Oceans Day.

Why should we celebrate World Oceans Day?

The world’s oceans:

  • Generate most of the oxygen we breathe
  • Help feed us
  • Regulate our climate
  • Offer us a pharmacopoeia of potential medicines
  • Provide limitless inspiration.

I am fortunate to live in Cairns in Far North Tropical Queensland with the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef on my door step. Most of the underwater photos on this blog have been taken in these waters. The Coral Sea is a tropical marine jewel which lies east of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It’s one of the last places on Earth where large marine animals can still be found in great numbers.

Yet less than 1% of this Serengeti of the Seas is protected.

Right now the federal government is considering the future of the Coral Sea within Australian waters.

Help protect our Coral Sea and make the Coral Sea a safe haven for marine life. Fill in your postcode on the right and email you federal MP.

Enjoy (and share) this beautiful song and video “Coral Sea Loves” by Isabel Lucas and Angus Stone in support of Protect Our Coral Sea

YouTube Preview Image
Posted in General

Shrimps at Norman Reef

On the 18th February, 2011 I did an overnight dive trip with Deep Sea Divers Den out of Cairns, Queensland. This was two weeks after cyclone Yasi and it was interesting to see how much damage had been done to the reef this far from the eye of the cyclone.

The third dive on day one was at Norman Reef.  Directly below where the boat was moored is a tower bommie known for friendly lionfish and shrimp.  I am told there are 12 varieties of shrimp on the bommie but I only managed to find three. As well as the lionfish and shrimp there was a leopard moray that unfortunately didn’t want to have his (or her) photo taken.

Here are images of the shrimp from that dive.

Scarlet Striped Cleaning Shrimp (Lysmata grabhami) (unknown, Tori Sugden)

Scarlet Striped Cleaning Shrimp (Lysmata grabhami)

Red Stripe Shrimp (Phynchocinetes durbanensis) (Tori Sugden)

Red Stripe Shrimp (Phynchocinetes durbanensis)

Glass Shrimp (unknown, Tori Sugden)

Glass Shrimp

Posted in Great Barrier Reef, Underwater

Diving Great Barrier Reef 9 January 2010

Sunday, January 9th was a beautiful Far North Queensland wet season day.  The skies were clear and seas were flat.  I went out with Down Under Dive to Hastings and Saxon reefs.  Three dives in 30 -31 degrees Celsisus water. Visibility was good.

Here are some photos of the trip (imported from Photoshelter).

The barracuda was circling about under the dive boat.

A Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) swims past on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia (Tori Sugden)

A Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) swims past on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Yellowtail Fusiliers can be found all over the Great Barrier Reef.  For this shot I decided to do something different and photograph it as it swam above me with the surface in the background.

A Yellowtail Fusilier (Caesio cuning) swims above on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia (Tori Sugden)

A Yellowtail Fusilier (Caesio cuning) swims above on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

A dive out on the Great Barrier Reef wouldn’t be complete without an anemonefish or two.

A Pink Anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) in an anemone on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia (Tori Sugden)

A Pink Anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) in an anemone on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Having the 100mm macro lens on the camera meant photographing the whole of big animals like the Giant Clam was out of the question.  This is a chance to get up close and take a good look at them.

The valve of an Orange and brown Giant Clam (Tridacna gigas) (Tori Sugden)

The valve of an Orange and brown Giant Clam (Tridacna gigas)

I have a soft spot for the Lizardfish.  Being rather territorial even if you scare them off it is not long before they are back pretty much in the same spot.

A Lizardfish (Synodus variegatus) sitting on some coral (Tori Sugden)

A Lizardfish (Synodus variegatus) sitting on some coral

Posted in Great Barrier Reef, Underwater

Shot of the Day – 21 November 2010

I love photographing things reflected underwater. My current interest is waterlilies up at Lake Barrine on the Tablelands in Far North Queensland

Posted in Lake Barrine, Underwater

Lake Eacham – October 17 2010

A change from trying to get the perfect shot of a waterlily underwater at Lake Barrine, this week we went to Lake Eacham.  I finally found some new friends that would stick around long enough to have their photo taken. This little fellow was taken in the shallows near where the old jetty used to be.

And this little aggressive fellow hangs out at the wreck of a dinghy at about 25 metres.

Freshwater Blueclaw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus)

Freshwater Blueclaw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus)

Freshwater Blueclaw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus)

Posted in Lake Eacham, Underwater

I love spring

Three little ducklings

Spring is here at last!

The water is starting to warm up. Visibility is slowly improving. The waterlillies are blossoming again at Lake Barrine.

Waterlily at Lake Barrine

Time to work on some reflection images.

Reaching for the sun

Posted in Lake Barrine

Diving on Great Barrier Reef 18 July

Sunday July 18 some friends and I went out to Norman & Saxon reefs with Down Under Dive.  I had taken something for seasickness but as it turned out the sea was not as rough as I was expecting.

We arrived at the first dive site Saxon reef.  I entered the water with Keith and Pieter and we headed off to do some photography.  About 10 minutes into the dive I was playing around with the strobe and for the first time in three years got the dreaded Err99 on my Canon 20D.  Of course there is nothing I can do about it underwater.  The battery has to be removed from the camera and re-inserted.  The rest of the dive was spent watching Keith take photos.

Back on the boat I had to get out of all my dive gear so I could go inside and dismantle the camera from the housing. Battery removed, replaced and all set for the second dive.

On this dive we came across two turtles.  One of which stuck around to have his (or her) photo taken.  Usually I see turtles when I have the 100mm macro lens on so was happy that this time I was using the 24mm lens.


After lunch a change of venue had us diving at Norman reef.  The dive started with a visit by Wally, a Maori Wrasse.

Wally the Maori Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)

Wally the Maori Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)

And what is a visit to the reef without anemone fish

Spine Cheeked Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus)

Two Spine Cheeked Anemonefish

Posted in Great Barrier Reef

Why I never get tired of diving the Great Barrier Reef

This post is written in response to an article on reporting that most visitors to the Great Barrier Reef believed it was only worth visiting once.

I have dived the reef a few times, not as many as some, but definitely more times than most.  I have done day trips from Cairns and Port Douglas and liveaboards out of Cairns and Townsville.

The first reason I never get tired of diving the reef is the water.  It is warm and blue with good to great visibility.  Now I know everything is relative but when the majority of your diving has been in Victorian waters with cold water, poor visibility and strong currents, diving the reef is a great pleasure.

Now I may be a bit weird but I particularly enjoy diving with the big fish such as sharks.  They are such majestic creatures and terribly misunderstood.

Silver Tip Reef Shark

Silver Tip Reef Shark

Potato Cod

Potato Cod (Epinephelus tukula)

Last year I was fortunate enough to dive with some Dwarf Minke whales and it is an experience I will never forget.  This time of year is the best chance to see them.

Dwarf Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

Minke Whale (photo: Alan Winstanley)

On some dives I will look for the smaller inhabitants of the reef.  I may decide to see how many varieties of nudibranchs I can find.

Chromodoris annae

A nudibranch (Chromodoris annae)

Some of the inhabitants are territorial and you will have an almost certain chance of seeing them like anemone fish and Wally the Maori Wrasse.  The dive and snorkeling guides can show you the way to many of these.

Clown Anemonefish

Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula)

Amphiprion melanopus

Black and Red Anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus)

Wally (a Maori Wrasse)

The main reason I never get tired of diving the Great Barrier Reef is it is a dynamic, ever changing ecosystem. The abundance and type of species vary due to time of day, tides, and seasons. Every visit is different and to only go there once is missing out on a lot of what it has to offer.

Sunset on the Great Barrier Reef

Posted in Great Barrier Reef, Underwater

Diving Lake Eacham

Today I went up to Lake Eacham to scuba dive. Lake Eacham is on the Atherton Tableland of Queensland about 1 hour from Cairns. It is an extinct volcanic crater lake filled with cool, clean, crystal clear water, surrounded by 486 hectares (1200 acres) of lush tropical highland rainforest. It is 60 metres (197 feet) deep.

Lake Eacham

Steps down into Lake Eacham

I was buddied up with my friend Keith Cardwell from FNQ Dive.  We entered the water down the steps. This has to be  the best entry/exit dive site I have come across.  Next to the steps (complete with handrail) are stepped ledges. Perfect for putting fins, mask and camera on whilst finishing gearing up in the water.  A ledge out from the steps has been laid with weed membrane and pebbles, no sticky mud in which to loose one’s fin.

From the ledge we descended down to 27.1 metres (89 feet).  We experienced various thermoclines throughout the dive.  A thermocline (source wikipedia) is a thin but distinct layer in a large body of fluid (e.g. water, such as an ocean or lake, or air, such as an atmosphere), in which temperature changes more rapidly with depth than it does in the layers above or below.

The bottom of the lake is silt, easily stirred up as Keith looked for rubbish (bottles, tins, plastic) to pick up amongst the tree skeletons and leaf litter.  Visibility was not good.  Partly due to the season being winter which causes the water to become murky with phytoplankton and also the weather today was overcast.

We encountered crayfish, turtles, mussels and several varieties of fish.  The crayfish act aggressive when disturbed and then move quickly away and bury themselves in the silt.  The turtles are very camera shy, hiding under the rotting branches before swimming away at great speed.  I was unable to get a reasonable photo of either.

After a surface interval we did it all again.

Posted in Lake Eacham, Underwater

Macro Underwater Photography – Lake Barrine

Lake Barrine is about an hour’s drive from Cairns. It is actually the crater formed by an volcanic eruption approximately 10,000 years ago.  It is an ideal spot for some freshwater scuba diving.

Today I went up there to do some underwater macro photography using my 100mm macro lens.  As we progress into winter the visibility deteriorates (the opposite of saltwater) so it ideal for getting up close and personal with the subjects.  Subjects that don’t move that is.

We entered the water on the far side of the lake and worked our way back to the point and then a surface swim over to the carpark.

Flora in Lake Barrine

Flora at Lake Barrine

The Waterlillies (Nymphea Gigantea) open underwater.

An Underwater Waterlily

One of the things I love about underwater photography is the reflection in the surface.  This is the first time I have actually used the macro lens to try this.

Water Lily Reflection

Waterlily Reflecting in Surface

Leaf Reflection
A Leaf Reflecting in the Surface

And to finish off it was Pumpkin Soup with Savoury Damper followed by Scones with jam and cream in the Lake Barrine Tea House.

Posted in Lake Barrine, Underwater Tagged , , , , |