I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet.
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Published November 2nd 2016
Fish, Fashion and Food
The rocky perimeter of the reef drops sharply to an undersea meadow of seagrass that spreads out in every direction. This fringe zone is home to numerous species of fish that find refuge in the many caves and crevices that undercut the rocky platform. Although the water is only a few metres deep, I am able to watch small schools of drummer and zebra fish feeding on the algae and other plants that grow along the reef's edge.
I am snorkelling off the Aldinga Reef a spectacular marine sanctuary, just a forty minute drive south of Adelaide's CBD. The reef stretches out from the base of steep limestone cliffs and can be accessed by several walkways or from the narrow beach. By walking across the shallow limestone surface of the reef one can easily access deeper water. However, the little 'drop-off' is never more than a couple of metres deep making it a very safe place to snorkel.
I spend another half an hour combing the edge of the reef photographing more species of fish including leatherjackets and magpie perch before swimming back over the shallow formation to shore. But even this rather more homogenous looking environment has its secret life. A closer look reveals anemones in the rock cracks and channels and even a brittle star that is moving between some small rocks. These invertebrates are food for larger predators that frequent the shallows and I am lucky enough to come across a fiddler ray scouring the bubble weed for prey.
Back on shore I climb up the pathway, remove my equipment and head back towards the Main South Road. However, Aldinga has one last surprise to entice a visitor who is perhaps a little less drawn to water sports and more inclined towards lunch and shopping. Near the turn off for home there is a cross road with a small market, bakery, hotel and rather up market fashion boutique occupying each of the four corners. It seems that Aldinga has a little something for everyone.