Our countdown to the top 5 strangest, weirdest, coolest and most unusual creatures we have spotted while kayaking and being out and about in 1770.
Whilst everyone (myself included) loves seeing dolphins, turtles, whales and other much adored animals, I also love looking a little bit closer to spot those strange animals that others walk past.
It is my passion, I get super excited when I find something new and I research it until I find out what it is.
I am amazed that after 13 years, I still find new stuff!
So, here it goes...countdown:
#5 The Paper Bubble Snail
This one has got to be the prettiest snail in 1770.
We found this cool creature on a Family kayak tour...
The Brown Lined Paper Bubble Snail is a marine snail that lives in shallow water bays. It crawls and burrows in sand to feed on bristle worms. I first found this beautiful snail in a small sea grass patch in the creek. Unlike most snails, this one cannot retract its large body fully into its shell . The shell itself is very very thin and easily broken, so be careful if you find one!
A few weeks after spotting the snail, I found its eggs!
The egg mass is just as amazing as the snail, and the snail forms it into a ribbon shape with its mantle. The tiny dots are the snail eggs.
The egg sack is somehow 'anchored' in the ground and so it stays protected until the snails are ready to hatch. I would love to see that....!
#4 Sweet Potato Sea Cucumber
Two vegetables in one?! Yes please!
The Sea Cucumber that looks exactly like a Sweet Potato! We saw this critter on our Nature tour just recently.
Sea Cucumbers are in the same family as starfish and sea urchins - they are echinoderms. They have no faces, no eyes, just a digestive tract with a hole at either end and shaped like a well formed turd.
All Sea Cucumbers are ocean dwellers (some in shallow water some in deep water) and their days pretty much consists of scooting around the ocean floor eating and pooping.
"The Sweet Potato Sea Cucumber lives partially buried in muddy and sandy coastal habitats and may burrow to depths up to 40 cm but normally resides near the surface.. They feed by ingesting sand on a continuous basis and they remove and consume the associated microbes and detritus. They retain a large amount of sand within their body at all times affording them with an inflated appearance."
#3 Sea Gooseberry
A jellyfish no bigger than your fingernail and mesmerising to watch.
The sea gooseberry took a little while to find and research.
I first spotted the little "jelly blobs" on the beach near the 1770 headland, but the photo I took was blurry, so no good for my research. The second time I spotted one was a couple of months later.
This time I got a decent photo and after realising it was probably a jellyfish, I tracked down Australia's #1 jellyfish expert - Dr. Lisa Gershwin - in Tasmania and she confirmed my identification of a Sea Gooseberry.
Lisa suggested I put one in a glass of seawater and see if it’ll unfurl it’s tentacles and start feeding.
I started carrying a little glass jar with me every time I went to the beach and eventually (after a few failed attempts) I captured 3 live ones and brought them home. It was amazing to watch them do their jellyfish thing, swim around, cilia beating.
Just marvelous little creatures!
#2 Moon-Headed Sidegill Slug
The funkiest slug in town.
This thing, that looks like a chocolate chip pancake, is a marine slug. Simon spotted this one and he was just as excited as I would have been had I found it.
The Moon-headed sidegill slug has a big crescent moon for a face. The bits that look like eyes are called rhinophore, which smell and taste the water around them. The big flap of skin that is the head, covers the mouth completely and is known as the ‘veil’.
The edges look like they are frayed but these are papillae, little sticky-out bits which can taste the floor as the glide across it. That means the slug can taste things before deciding whether or not to put it in their mouths.
The bit at the end that looks like a tail is really a siphon, which takes in oxygen-rich water and passes it over to the gills.
Pretty amazing for a simple slug, uh?!
#1 Red Eel Goby
Pretty much one of the rarest fish to spot.
This bizarre looking fish is a creature from the Goby family, mudskippers are their cousins.
According to Australia Museum "The world expert on this group of fishes tentatively identified it as Taenioides anguillaris, which has never been photographed in Australian waters! It is a great photo of a fish that is rarely photographed in the wild."
These fish are rarely seen because they live in muddy burrows in shallow intertidal zones.
When you look closely you can see small ridges all over its head and body. Underneath are very sensitive nerve endings and that is how the navigate. The eyes are very, very small and underdeveloped.
Because it's so weird and rare and has apparently not been photographed in Australia before, it's our NUMBER ONE WEIRDEST CREATURE OF 1770.
While we are always on the lookout for wildlife, be it dolphins or slugs, on our Nature Tour we try and find as much of this cool and unusual stuff as we can. We talk about birds, crabs, snails, stingrays, slugs, dolphins, mangroves, sea grass and much much more.
So next time you visit Agnes Water & 1770, make sure to join us and explore the creek with us.
We have added a little video of the crazy critters we spot
Diane Waine-Barclay: "Lots of great little discoveries on this tour."