Amongst the pylons and weed beds thrives an abundance of life!
When I first moved to Tumby Bay, it was the impressive undersea life of the area that had me reaching frequently for my scuba gear. Amongst the pylons and weed beds thrives an abundance of life, providing in the clear, calm water, a diving mecca for scuba and snorkelling enthusiasts, who can observe the mysterious striped pyjama squid, wobbegong shark, numerous nudibranchs, common day octopus, southern rock Lobster, giant cuttlefish, short-headed sea horse and the awesome but deadly blue ring octopus.
This pleasurable pastime became a passion, after my first sighting of the elusive leafy seadragon, an experience many divers recall vividly and with delight. Floating as insignificantly as a piece of loose plant, this glorious creature and its effortless grace has enchanted me ever since. With a newly-purchased underwater camera, each visit to their realm had me planning my return, as each dive concluded.
Despite their amazing ability to blend with the environment in which they live, breed and feed, I have become familiar with each individual of the small, healthy population of ‘Leafys’ that live in Tumby waters. So far I have documented 14 individuals, including the progress of a large male laden with eggs through to their hatching and growing up. It has taken a little effort, a keen eye and great care over a regular frequency of dives, to capture a rich treasure of photographs and details, and I have become very attached to the leafy seadragons of Tumby Bay.
I consider myself very fortunate to have this wonder of the world right here on my doorstep, and have enjoyed showing the area’s diversity and enchantments to many friends and fellow divers. Tumby will always be a special place for me.
Jamie "Yook" Coote
LOOKING AFTER OUR LEAFYS
Please enjoy our wonderful ecosystem at Tumby and dive wisely. Here are some ways you can contribute to your pleasure as well as the promotion and protection of what we have.
• Leafy Sea Dragons can be difficult to find, so it might be helpful to contact Port Lincoln Diving Services for advice and information, or a guide.
• Dive groups are best kept to 4 or 5 people, with a designated leader who understands and can uphold these objectives.
• Take care not to break or damage the weed structure with your equipment, or by swimming through it; it provides the habitat to which Leafy survival is linked.
• Don’t allow your movements to create a silt cloud – it will suffocate the sealife around you and reduce the quality of your viewing and photography.
• Please do not remove anything from this underwater environment; take away only your photos and memories.
The Leafy Presence
• Approach slowly and with minimal disturbance, ensuring your movements do not create any water current around them, which they are extremely vulnerable to.
• Please do not touch, chase, or make any attempt to alter their chosen positioning, once you are in their presence, as they are easily affected by such stresses. These are delicate creatures, which live in the sea grasses and weed beds for protection and food.
• For best photographs and Leafy longevity, take turns to approach so they are not threatened by being ‘surrounded’.
• It is the only creature of its kind, living along the southern coast of Western and Southern Australia, and nowhere else in the world.
• It is entirely defenceless, reliant on camouflage only to avoid becoming prey to the stingrays, penguins, crabs, turtles and large fish in it’s home range.
• They feed on plankton, small shrimp and fish larvae, for which they search with independently operating eyes. Having no teeth or stomach, the food that gets sucked up through their long tubular jaws, is then dissolved as it moves along the digestive tract.
• Reaching adulthood at 2 years of an approximate 7-year life span, they weigh around half a kilo and can reach more than 30 centimetres in length.
• They mate in late spring full moons, with the male carrying the 150 or so bright pink eggs, in individual cups on a brood patch under his tail, through which he supplies oxygen and nutrients to the embryos.
• Whilst their movement is virtually indiscernible, there have been rare observations of very short bursts of up to 24kph, followed by up to 65 hours without movement.