Light winds, low swell and blue skies welcomed divers Toni Cooper (RLS, TAS), Wendy Hutchison, Cheryl Petty, Paul Day, Kevin Smith, Eloise Ashworth, Alicia Sutton, Matthias Liffers, Kirsty Whitman, Ben Jones, Tash Hardy (NSW), and Cecile Decazes to the 8th (yes the 8th!) annual RLS, Rottnest Island survey weekend.
With conditions considerably improved compared to the previous two years, sites only accessible in calm weather could be re-surveyed, including the exciting West End demersal sanctuary zone and the cosy sheltered waters of FishHook Bay.
The team were scrabbling for bragging rights at West End with on and off-transect sightings of two large Caretta caretta(loggerhead turtle), a large female Achoerodus gouldii(western blue groper) and grinning Carcharias taurus(grey nurse shark).
The “tropical” site, Pocillopora Reef, once again did not disappoint with Abudefduf sexfasciatus (scissortail sergeant), Scarus ghobban (Blue-barred parrot fish), Stegastes obreptus(Western gregory) and Pomacentrus milleri (Miller’s damsel) common amongst the coral.
Interestingly, divers also noted an increase in the number of Cirripectes hutchinsi (Hutchins’ blenny) compared to previous years, along with sub-legal sized Panulirus cygnus (Western rocklobster) andGlaucosoma hebraicum (West Australian dhufish)
at a number of different sites. All up the team surveyed 17 sites in four days of diving, a great effort.
A huge welcome to our newcomers. The WA crew look forward to catching up with you all very soon! Look out Sydney-siders, WA crew are going for the title!
As in previous years, UEC provided the vessel Cape Cruiser, skilfully skippered by Chris Cunnold and Wendy Hutchinson. Thank you! Eloise Ashworth, Paul Day and Kevin Smith crewed the ducky and accommodation, transport and tank fills were generously provided by Rottnest Island Authority with special thanks to Helen Shortland-Jones. We’re going to miss you!
For more photos from the weekend, visit the RLS Facebook page.