Nudibranches and Brittle Stars Abound at Otaipango

It is June which is winter in New Zealand but up here in the real far north, remote and removed from Auckland, the crowds, traffic, housing crisis and people we are having beautiful warm days this week, the low tides while high and not turbulant, are low around late morning, early afternoon and are just calling out to me to go and explore.

Now Otaipango (Henderson Bay) is an explorer's paradise as there are so many different habitats all within a short distance to each other, from sandy lagoons, to tidal guts, rock strewn floors, seaweed gardens, rock pools and side alleys, all at different depths.

Due to safety reasons, I do not go out past where I can stand, so everything I find is within shallow water.

On Jun 16 I heard the siren song of the ocean while basking in the sun on my stressful deck and as I could not resist I went to see what I could find.

When I arrive and stand at the top of the cliff looking out I scan the ocean and think to myself, "Where shall I go today?". I had been asked to get photos of the backs of brittle stars and barnacles so that dictated that I should go past the barnacles and out to brittle star alley. However, the tide was still on it's way out so I decided to work my way to brittle star alley, past the barnacles by exlpoing an area I had not been into before.

This was where I found the clown doris, the beautiful nudibranch with the orange dots on it. It was practising arebatics on a seaweed and while I was watching I got slapped by the tail of a koura, or crayfish!

Brittle star alley produced the goods and then I thought I would go to another gut and test the idea that brittle stars live in shallow subtidal zones, under rocks that are on sand. Wandering over there I found the black brittle star which is the first one that I have ever seen and I was totally stoked with that. There in that gut I also found the second nudibranch of the day, the black doris.

Four hours had now passed and the tide was on it's way in so I started to wander back home and that is when I spotted the third nudibranch of the day and a first for me to see, the gem doris grazing on the common coralline.

An amazing day of discovery in my little corner of the world. The lines of the song are so true,
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Posted by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua, June 17, 2016 21:58

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Clown Doris (Ceratosoma amoenum)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

June 17, 2016

Description

This clown doris was practicing it's acrobatic skills using a piece of seaweed as the rope.

While I was watching the show and taking photos a cray swam by giving me a slap with it's tail.

I had to make a decision to try and find the cray lurking in the seaweed, knowing those nippers would be out, or carry on watching the show. As it was not lunchtime, I carried on watching the arial acrobatics of the clown doris :)

Second time I have seen a clown doris and a cray - I wonder if that is a coincidence or if they like hanging out together LOL

Show was performed in the shallow subtidal zone on a rock face shaded by seaweeds.

Photos / Sounds

What

Mottled Brittle Star (Ophionereis fasciata)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

June 17, 2016

Description

I have now photographed the back as @sadiem suggested :)

Living in Brittle Star Alley.

Low Intertidal / Shallow sub tidal zone.

Photos / Sounds

What

Mottled Brittle Star (Ophionereis fasciata)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

June 17, 2016

Description

I have now photographed the back as @sadiem suggested :)

Living in Brittle Star Alley.

Low Intertidal / Shallow sub tidal zone.

Photos / Sounds

What

Mottled Brittle Star (Ophionereis fasciata)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

June 17, 2016

Description

I have now photographed the back as @sadiem suggested :)

Living in Brittle Star Alley.

Low Intertidal / Shallow sub tidal zone.

Photos / Sounds

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

June 17, 2016

Description

As I had learnt what the habitat and tidal zone at Brittle Star Alley was I decided to test that in another tidal gut and found this beauty which I had not seen before!

I have now photographed the back as @sadiem suggested :)

Low Intertidal / Shallow sub tidal zone.

Photos / Sounds

What

Euthyneuran Gastropods (Infraclass Euthyneura)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

June 17, 2016

Description

Linving in a tidal gut in the low intertidal / shallow subtidal zone.

Photos / Sounds

What

Gem Doris (Dendrodoris krusensternii)

Observer

tangatawhenua

Date

June 17, 2016

Description

Totally stoked to spot this little beauty as I was wandering back home.

It was grazing on common coraline out of the water in the mid intertidal zone. After a couple of photos that had big drips on them I moved it into the water on the common coraline so I could get better photos. Once it realised that it was safe, it carried on grazing.

Amazing day today - 3 different nudibranch species :)

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