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 March 1st 2016
Fish, squid and urchins
The leatherjacket has its spine erect in an aggressive pose as it emerges from the dark crevice. I back up and watch the little fish defending its territory. Kicking my fins hard I push up to the surface, take a couple of deep breaths then head back down to the rocky reef just a few metres away from the jetty. There is a school of salmon trout milling around the jetty poles, seemingly indifferent to the anglers standing above them.
I am enjoying the sheltered waters of Second Valley on the Fleurieu Peninsula about an hour and a half drive from Adelaide. Named Second Valley when Captain William Light discovered it after declaring nearby Rapid Bay as the first of several enchanting valleys he explored along this stretch of coastline in 1836.
Second Valley is a combination of three sheltered bays that includes a small beach and a little creek overlooked by towering dolomite cliffs. A well seviced campground, local shacks that can be hired as well as a general store supplying food and fishing tackle, make it an ideal day or weekend destination. And the foreshore and rolling hills make a wonderful coastal walk for those less inclined to diving and snorkelling.
From the deeper water at the end of the jetty I swim back towards the shallows near the beach. The water is quite warm and I can easily stand on the bottom. Bright green, yellow algae covers most of the rocks and small fish are darting between the fronds. Suddenly the darker carapace of a large rock crab catches my eye and I spend a few minutes trying to capture a close-up image of the wary crustacean.
Nearby, a group of divers are preparing to swim out to one of the deeper sections of reef. One diver realises that I am taking pictures and signals that there is something interesting below. I follow her directions and discover a delicate, purple sea urchin wedged beneath a rocky shelf.
I have been in the water for about an hour and I am getting a little cold. It's time to sit on the jetty and watch the fishers jigging for squid and soak up a little sun before venturing back into the water for one last snorkel out to the nearby headland. I have often encountered large schools of drummer and even the occasional stingray gliding over the seagrass beds that cover the seafloor in this area.
As always my trip to Second Valley has provided a safe and exciting day in the water. I have familiarised myself with the many marine species that frequent the area along with a few unexpected encounters to wet my appetite for another dive in the near future.