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 January 2nd 2017
The water is clear and warm. Ridges of sand stretch in all directions making the sea floor seem like an endless desert. The shadow of the jetty appears to offer some kind of haven for the local marine life. Schools of tiny baitfish congregate here, and there are colourful gardens of sponges clinging to the jetty poles. A solitary blue swimmer crab appears from behind one clump of sea squirts extending its powerful claws in my direction.
I am snorkelling beside the Semaphore Jetty after a pleasant morning walk along the beach and breakfast at one of the many little eateries on Jetty Road. Semaphore has always been a favourite beachside destination of mine. With its restaurants, historical lighthouse, playgrounds and grassy spaces it is a place for everyone; fisher, family and even we wildlife watchers.
Semaphore's wildlife is not merely confined to the water. Gulls, cormorants and even the occasional pelican frequent the jetty. Onshore, a ribbon of re-vegetated dunes runs parallel to the beach providing a home to a wide variety of coastal animals.
My final foray takes me along some of the sandy trails that pass through the scrub in search of the numerous coastal species that make their homes here. Several spotted doves are feeding in an open area between some thick bushes, a singing honeyeater is searching for insects in the foliage and dragonflies are hovering above the spiky clumps of knobby club rush grass.
However, my final wildlife sighting is rather unexpected. Reptiles are not uncommon in the coastal strip but very timid and not often seen. I have spotted brown snakes, painted dragons, small skinks, blue tongues and shingleback lizards in the many visits I have made here.
Today it is a bearded dragon that catches my attention as it sits patiently on a branch waiting for an unsuspecting insect to provide lunch. And, on the subject of lunch, the iconic 'Palais' beckons with one of the best seafood platters in the state. Built in the twenties it has served as a dance hall, Surf Life Saving Club and dance hall in its long history.