Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 1

Impossibly Beautiful Marine Life in Sydney Harbour – Part 4

In case you’ve been living under a rock in the harbour, you will know that Sydney offers some amazing snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities. It’s a really clean body of water. The proof is in the snorkelling too. A recent study revealed that Sydney harbour has more marine species than any other harbour in the world. With approximately 600 marine species found here in March 2013; compared to 530 marine species living in the Mediterranean at the same time. If you would like some inspiration to don a wetsuit and flippers, here are some of the most vividly beautiful Sydney residents, who have without a doubt, the best post code in Sydney.

Weedy Seadragons

These ethereal and floaty creatures look like bright purple, blue and yellow pieces of seaweed. Growing up to about 45 cm in length, they have a delicate leaf arrangement and seem to float and careen through the water. In this way weedy seadragons have fantastic camouflage and can be overlooked by divers, until you develop an eagle eye and can see them.

They have a weird mating ritual. Although nothing that you wouldn’t expect to find on any Saturday night at a pub in The Rocks! The female pushes the eggs onto the males tail and once there, they get fertilised. On average 120 to 300 eggs are carried. After about 2 months the eggs hatch and the babies are quite large, around 2-3 cm in length. They grow quickly to become around 7 cm after 14 weeks.

Mainly weedy seadragons eat sea lice and small crustaceans that they suck in through their elegant long snouts. Weedy seadragons are protected under fisheries legislation and it’s illegal to export them, eat them or sell them.

These little wee cuties should always be left alone in the harbour. They are endangered by fishing and the illegal aquarium trade. Be satisfied with taking underwater pictures and don’t harass them.

Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 1

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Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 1_2

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Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 1

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Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 1

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Blue Groper

This is the largest and most spectacular fish found in Sydney harbour. Any local who has done snorkelling in the area would think fondly and warmly of this sapphire blue beauty. Although named a groper, this blue behemoth belongs to the Wrasses family, and can grow up to 1m in length.

You will find it moseying through reefs, up to 40m in depth. The blue groper is found all around the east coast, from Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria to Hervey Bay in Queensland. If you make a racket and bang some rocks together in the reef, he will let curiosity get the better of him and come closer to you.

Sometimes a female changes into a male during its lifetime. The whole sex change thing is attributed to the size and age of a blue groper, this triggers the change. Also it’s thought to be a balancing element in the population. When there are too many females, some of them change into males to bolster species growth.

Blue gropers love to eat sea urchins and small crustaceans. Although please don’t kill sea urchins in order to feed the blue gropers, as they have their own place in the ecosystem as well. Blue gropers also like boiled eggs and beach worms, so try giving them these instead.

They can grow to an enormous size, up to a metre long and can live up to 35 years old. Although they were fair game in the past, and are reputedly very tasty, blue groper have been protected since 1969. It’s now illegal to fish them and fines apply.

Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 1
Diver feeding a blue groper a sea urchin, off Bare Island, Sydney

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Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 1

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Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 1_3

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Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 1
Coral off Bare Island in Sydney

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Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour – Part 1

Purple Chickenpox Coral, Bare Island Sydney

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of Impossibly Beautiful Sea Life of Sydney Harbour.

This article was originally written by Athena Dennis for Choice Charters Sydney.

Find out more…

Abyss Sydney Marine Life

Fishes of Sydney Harbour

Unseen Nature Art from Australia’s First Fleet

What Montaigne Can Teach Us About Deep Sea Aliens

Five Creepy Islands in Sydney Harbour

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