Octopolis – this seemingly ordinary stretch of sand off Murray’s Reef really is like an octopus city. It was our last dive during this year’s Jervis Bay Reef Life Survey trip, and big, acquisitive octopus were tending their gardens in all directions. As I approached each one it would try to hide at first, and when that didn’t work, would emerge and grow as big and dominant as possible. Why had all these octopus chosen to live in this one patch? I’ve never seen so many cockles in one place – and the abundance of their shells around each octopus den show they must be a favourite food.
The prior days had been just as exciting and rewarding. We encountered unusual species like Goldlined Wrasse (Coris aurilineata), Spotted Dragonet (Repomucenus calcaratus), Elongate Wrasse (Pseudojuloides elongatus), Blue-lined Octopus (Hapalochlaena fasciata), Paradise Threadfin Bream (Pentapodus paradiseus), pink soft corals (Dendronephthya australis), three species of weedfish and of course what everyone wishes for when they dive JB - Grey Nurse Sharks (Carcharias taurus) – a total of nine sightings of these magnificent, threatened animals.
The weather was kinder to us this year, apart from a thrilling crossing of the bay one afternoon where a gust of wind tore the canvas cover off the boat. Among our team of eight surveyers (Josh Moloney, George Wood, Lou De Beuzeville, Kris O'Keeffe, Sue Newson, Laura Smith, Andrew Green and me) we completed 45 surveys across 13 sites in 5 days. It was also great to have trainee RLSer Becky Evers and boat drivers Nathan Knott and Brian Harrison along too, and to once again have access to Marinka’s spacious lodgings at Sanctuary Point. A massive thanks to all involved!