Everyone has their own special places where they go to either rest and relax, maybe do something adventurous, connect with nature or just stop and smell the roses. I have one such place that I have been visiting for nearly thirty years now, usually no more than three times a year, so that makes nearly a hundred visits and each visit is different from the last.
I have to plan in advance to visit this place, as it is particularly weather dependant, so I usually do not know if I can even get there until a few days prior. Once the weather looks favourable, then I need to ensure I have all the necessary equipment checked to make the journey as safe as possible. The night before the trip I lay awake and visualise the camouflaged entrance to this place as well the chambers within, because this is an underwater cave.
Over the years it has provided many different scenarios and a few times I have even swum right past it, so familiar does the terrain all around seem with the seaweed dancing in the swell. Once the entrance is located, I dive in and immediately peer to my right where often large fish congregate. Previous visits have revealed blue groper up to 30kg and Dhufish up to 15kg. I have always only watched these fish and resisted the temptation to take a spear gun with me, like the more serious hunting days of old. Then I usually lay down some of my equipment because I am armed with two snares, one long and spring loaded, the other shorter and without the spring, dive torch, two catch bags ( just in case ), abalone knife and the other paraphanelia associated with scuba diving. I usually then wait for the heart rate to slow a little because I am quite excited. Then I start left, looking under easy ledges that will tell me if the rest of the cave is going to produce or not. This time there are about six crays, one other days there have been none or up to twenty, so it tells me a reasonable, but not bumper year ahead. The opening to the right of the ledges is large, full of sand and sometimes the home for a particularly curious wobbegong, but this time the coast is clear. I then scout around before entering a more enclosed cavern where a torch is essential. I have respect for this section because on a previous visit years ago the frantic actions of a gloved jumbo dislodged my torch from my wrist and turned it off. Again, it is sand filled, so if there is any vigorous finning, visibility will be zero in no time. Sometimes there are up to three large jumbos in the dark recess, hence the long snare, but only one is ever taken from this particular section, in the hope of future mating. On this day there is only a size cray, which is a little disappointing, but still he is a keeper. The third section has some spaces where the crays cannot exit, so they can be easily gloved without damage to inspect for berry or setose hairs. About this time on a previous visit the curious wobbegong decided to start eating crays through the catch bag. Before leaving, I now have an extra glance out to the ocean first, something I never used to do, I suppose a sign of the times.
To answer last week’s question Brian Walleys’ mothers’ maiden name was Mawson, closely tied to the famous Antarctic explorer, Douglas Mawson. This week’s question is, “What happens if a western rock lobster loses its legs or antenna?”
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