Dec 082015

Leafy seadragon with eggs

About the site

Rapid Bay Jetty is a well known dive site in South Australia. On a hot Saturday morning for the first weekend of summer it was busy with divers staggering up and down the pier between the stairs and the car park. Once underwater however we only swam past other buddy pairs occasionally. The jetty is known for its resident leafy sea dragons. Unlike the weedy sea dragons we get in Victoria, leafies have more ornate body decorations. I’d never seen one in the flesh despite a prior dive in this exact location a few years back. I had my fingers crossed for a little more luck this time.

Leafy sea dragon and diver

About the dive

Despite arriving around 9am it was already stinking hot on arrival. We ambled gently down the new pier to the stairs while trying not to overheat. It was very pleasant to sink into the water, made even easier by the tide being up over the platform at the bottom of the steps. We descended and swam from the new jetty to the old jetty as flat seas on top gave way to fantastic visibility underneath.

Rapid Bay Jetty gets down to about 10m deep, twice the depth of somewhere like Flinders Pier. It’s surrounded on both sides by healthy sea grass beds and Ken and I swam out wide a few times in search of the elusive dragon. We found dozens of egg laying squid diving into the grass. As we turned to come back between the pylons another diver gave us a wave and I spotted a distinctive yellow head between the rocks.

About the photo

The leafy has eggs under his tail and seemed very relaxed. He was certainly disinclined to move very far, even with divers circling his home base. This made my life a lot easier as I could gently line up the shots I wanted without feeling that I was harassing the star of the show. He was staying very low to the ground which made it hard to isolate him against the busy background. For the top shot here I managed to wedge the camera into a hole between two rocks and angle it upwards to catch the jetty planks and sunbeams overhead.

The second shot was taken with Ken in exactly the right place. I looked at it briefly on the back of the camera before I noticed the second diver hanging back. My dragon photo shoot was over and it was time to share this spectacular little creature with the next group of divers.

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