October 2000

No. 271

"Understanding, enjoying & caring for our oceans"


7.30pm Start for Meetings

The September General Meeting unanimously agreed to the new start time of 7.30pm.

Should you be unable to attend at this earlier time then we have no objection to people arriving late!

Better late than not at all.

Next Meeting 18/10/00

The October General Meeting will be held at the Conservation Centre, 120 Wakefield Street on Wednesday 18th October and will commence at the new time of 7.30pm.

This should enable members to get home earlier. A map of the meeting place is below.

The speaker for the meeting has not yet been confirmed but I can guarantee an interesting time regardless.


Calendar Monies

If you have been paid for any calendars then could you please get the money to me at, or prior to, the October meeting.

Could you also make an effort to sell more calendars as we have 200 still awaiting sale.



Committee Member Meets Maestro – 21/7/00

Mangrove Visit

Dive At Port Noarlunga Reef 20/8/00

Gaol Term For Fossil Thief

Naming Of Lefevre Peninsula

Diving Test

National Dive Proposals Released For Comment

SHRIMP, BUBBLE AND POP- Snapping shrimps

Seahorses can fly when love is involved!

Jewels of the Sea Project

Iain Evans MP - Official Marine Emblem for SA



Committee Member Meets Maestro – 21/7/00

If fellow MLSSA members detect in my choice of title a certain degree of admiration for one Timothy Flannery, they are not mistaken!

I have never hidden the fact that I was gob-smacked by ‘The Future Eaters’ so I naturally felt an inner glow when this provocative book’s author accepted the position of Director of the South Australian Museum.

Earlier this year word got around that the museums’ valuable ornithology and marine life specimen collections may be mothballed and even moved interstate as part of a major reorganisation around Australia of our public natural history museums.

MLSSA’s Committee sought a meeting with Dr. Flannery so I phoned his secretary on Thursday 20 July and was pleased to be accommodated with an appointment at 4pm the next day. Before my appointment I had a quick look at the ‘new’ fish display – and yes, those committee members who’d said it was a downgrade from the old one, featuring even fewer species, negligible information and no interactive displays were right. (What’s more the ‘Ornate Cowfish’ is actually a Shaw’s, and the Black Stingaree is in fact a Black Stingray, but perhaps these little boo-boos will soon be rectified – read on . . . . ) I then enjoyed a cuppa courtesy of helpful staff while waiting for Dr. Flannery to finish his earlier appointment, which by a happy coincidence was with a representative of the Ornithological Society of S.A., apparently there to voice concerns similar to MLSSA’s.

Once ensconced in the Director’s modest yet comfy office I wasted no time in ingratiating myself by presenting a 2001 calendar by way of introduction. This was received graciously, and I then voiced MLSSA’s concerns.

We chatted for perhaps half an hour, and I will itemise the main outcomes.

1) There has never been any intent to move any part of the Marine Life Collection interstate – on this point Dr. Flannery was emphatic.

2) The fish collection will indeed be effectively mothballed in the short term – meaning the existing specimens will be maintained, but not expanded. However partly as a result of money saved thus, and (if I understood correctly) by savings through not having a Curator of Fishes since the passing of John Glover, at least one new research position would shortly be created in Marine Biology at the museum – though it was not known in which specific field this would be eg. fish, invertebrates or algae.

3) Dr. Flannery explained that the State Government had within the last few years completed an extensive review of South Australia’s public museums including their areas of excellence, and the responsible task force was now requiring all Directors to enact a range of recommendations in order to demonstrate efficient and rational use of monetary resources. He stated that he of course had little choice but to comply with the more compelling of these directives.

4) However he was optimistic that the specimen collection would not remain mothballed for long – indeed he had already given thought to a liaison with (for example) SARDI, and also had no objection in principle to sponsorship from suitably responsible corporate groups in the private sector, although he had not yet had time to explore this possibility.

5) Interestingly he reported receiving many objections from ornithologists about the proposed changes, but very few concerning the fish collection. I wondered if this reflected the disparity between the high public awareness of our beautiful and very visible avian fauna, widely known to generations of Australians, and the comparative ignorance regarding our equally stunning and undoubtedly even more biodiverse marine fauna, as it is only in recent years that most of the latter have appeared in living photographs. Even Joe Average can’t avoid seeing birds on a daily basis, whereas only a privileged minority in our community get to see our unique sea creatures in all their living glory. I make this point to underscore the enormity of the task facing MLSSA, in promoting this awareness as a matter of urgency.

6) Finally, Dr. Flannery indicated that the new and underwhelming Fish Gallery was intended only as a temporary display, with a South Australian Biodiversity Gallery on the drawing boards which would showcase in a more progressive manner the complex interactions between land and sealife. Although budgeting for this display was not complete I got the impression that it was pretty much a certainty within the next few years.

So in conclusion, I left this meeting in a positive frame of mind, glad that MLSSA had bothered to enquire, and optimistic that Marine Life hadn’t been dealt too mean a hand through the SA Museum’s recent upgrades and changes of management.

I write this because members seeking feedback have already approached me, and I know that the SDF sought clarification on this matter from Secretary Steve Reynolds.

Naturally I am happy for members to talk with me personally (eg. at Society meetings) but this account should at least serve as an introduction to "The Museum Vibe", an emotional subspecies first detected by yours truly circa July 2000.

David Muirhead


Mangrove Visit

During my Christmas holidays I visited the mangroves of Barker Inlet and St Kilda. I launched my boat at Garden Island and motored down Barker Inlet to St Kilda. Mangroves surround the waterways between Garden Island, Torrens Island and St Kilda. The bird life is great, especially at low tide. It is also rare not to see a dolphin or two around. At St Kilda I visited the Mangrove Board Walk which is now being run by Steve and Sandra Vines. Steve is well known for his love of dolphins, mangroves, marine life and the marine environment. Sandra enjoys diving and snorkelling. The couple are moving home to live at St Kilda which will help them in the running of the interpretive centre and boardwalk. They plan to make a few changes at the centre so a return visit by our Society could be worthwhile this year. We could even give them a helping hand.

Steve Reynolds


Dive At Port Noarlunga Reef 20/8/00

David and I dived together at Port Noarlunga reef in August. We both took our cameras to photograph the fish and invertebrate life there. We found some interesting things there but there were two fish that stood out from all of the others. Unfortunately we were unable to photograph either of them. One was a Western Cleaner Clingfish, Cochleoceps Sp., the kind that David has written about before. It was apparently cleaning a large Silver Drummer which I tried to approach. The Drummer swam off and the Clingfish left its side and hovered mid-water. I called David over to see and photograph the little blighter but it was just too tricky and we lost sight of it. When we returned to the outer end of the jetty David duly finished using up the last of his 36 frames. Having finished the film off he called me for the return swim to the jetty steps. Under the jetty he encountered the most photogenic Spiny Gurnard, Lepidotrigla papilio. David shook his fist at the 15cm beauty and let out a loud groan, annoyed that he had run out of film. I still had my camera and tried to close in on the splendid creature. I had a close-up lens on my camera and could not get within range. Reluctantly we abandoned the chase. I have now added these two sightings to my database of fish seen at Port Noarlunga reef. They bring the total to 70 but the list is probably still incomplete.

Steve Reynolds


Gaol Term For Fossil Thief

How wrong could I be? In my "Fossil Thefts" article in our November 1999 Newsletter I reported that the man on trial for three charges of stealing fossilised footprints in WA faced as much as seven years gaol for conviction on each charge. The man pleaded guilty and the Judge sentenced him to just two years gaol. (The newspaper report said ‘jail’ so perhaps the thief will be sent to America.) The thief will be out of gaol again at the age of 50, hopefully wise enough to not try anything like that again.

Steve Reynolds


Naming Of Lefevre Peninsula

The Lefevre Peninsula was named by SA’s first Governor, Captain John Hindmarsh, on 3rd June 1837. He named the peninsula after Sir John George Shaw-Lefevre of the (English) Board of Commissioners. The Board supervised colonisation of SA, controlled land sales and arranged transport for emigrants. Sir John became secretary of the Colonial Office and he was Vice-Chancellor of London University for over twenty years. He died in 1879.

Steve Reynolds


Diving Test

Having completed a year as a snorkel diver & the obligatory 15 dives ranging from 10 to 30 metres in depth I was ready to become a qualified diver. However there was one more hurdle the Club Diver Test. This equates to a ** Diver internationally recognised by C.M.A.S..

The written test done and passed I was left with only the practical test to do. All was arranged & I was to meet the Instructor at the ‘Forty Foot’ on a Sunday morning. My gear was all sorted so off I set for the ‘Forty Foot’ & met the Instructor. He was a Garda (Irish Policeman) so I was expecting the worst, but he proved to be very fair and an excellent instructor.

There was a quick oral test as we kitted up just to assure the instructor I knew what I was doing and wouldn’t drown on him. We then headed for the inflatable, stowed our gear in the boat and motored out to the dive site. The only determining factor for the dive site was that it had to be in 20 metres of water at which specific tests were carried out. We found a suitable spot and lowered a shot line, kitted up, did the obligatory buddy checks and hit the water.

This is where the real fun began. The visibility was nil, you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face. The Instructor asked if I wanted to postpone the test for another time but as I was already wet I said I’d continue. He said I was brave but must have thought I was a bit mad because the first test was to dive down to 5 metres with your mask in hand, fit it and then clear it. That done we descended to 20 metres and settled on the bottom, where all I could was a shape (the instructor) about a metre away.

The next phase. The Instructor gave me the sign for out of air but I couldn’t see what he was indicating, just a shadow with some movements around the throat. He moved closer and signalled again, this time I understood so we started buddy breathing. When we’d finished that I had to breathe from my ABLJ (Adjustable Buoyancy Life Jacket). If anyone has ever done this it is difficult enough without having to contend without being able to see.

The procedure for this exercise is to take your regulator out of your mouth find the mouth piece of your ABLJ and fit it, open the pony bottle attached to the ABLJ and breathe from it. It might sound easy but as you inflate your ABLJ you tend to ascend with the extra buoyancy and then descend as you use up the air in the jacket. This is compounded by the fact that you have to fin a prescribed distance and remember to fill your jacket with air in small spurts from your pony bottle so you don’t drown. Once this was completed the rest was a doddle, well almost. Nil visibility certainly made what should’ve been a fairly straightforward test quite demanding.

Having completed all the tests we surfaced, pulled up the shot line and headed for the little harbour. There was a quick debriefing as being April it was still very cold and the thought of a warm Pub was very inviting.

The last part of the test was the best, it consisted of buying the Instructor a few of pints of Guinness for his time because it’s all voluntary. We sat and warmed ourselves by the fire, quenched our thirst with creamy pints and I listened to the tales of diving exploits which I could look forward to now that I was a qualified diver.

Chris Hall



Wet stuff is compiled by the MCCN (SA) for research and non-commercial use as a free community service from a range of web sources.

DIVE INDUSTRY 18/9/00 Queensland
National Dive Proposals Released For Comment

New draft guidelines for Australia's recreational diving industry have been released for public comment. They are the result of growing concerns about the number of underwater fatalities and injuries, with two divers dying and another 405 needing decompression treatment in the year to June. Tom Godfrey, from Standards Australia, says while Australia's diving safety record is considered one of the best in the world, there is always room for improvement.
"I think there are some inherent risks associated with the sport like scuba diving but essentially what these guidelines will do is put in place some very tangible safety practices for the dive boat operators and those running recreational dive operations to use," he said.
"I think that will be very useful for them," he said. Mr Godfrey, says dive accident figures are clearly a cause for concern and highlight the need for a comprehensive code of conduct for the industry.
"I think the Australian dive industry is one of the best in the world but clearly there hasn’t been a national standard before and its been widely supported by the industry so it’s a very encouraging step." Public comment on the guidelines closes on October 15, with the Australian Standard due to be published next year.

© 1999 Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Thursday, 21 September, 2000

SHRIMP, BUBBLE AND POP- Snapping shrimps

Snapping shrimps are the noisiest creatures in the shallow ocean, capable of drowning out submarine sonar by the "snap, crackle and pop" of bubbles generated by their claws. That is the verdict of researchers who have been studying how the tiny marine organisms make such a din.

Scientists had always believed that the distinctive crackling noise of shrimp colonies came from mechanical contact between two parts of the creatures’ claws. But a new study, reported in the journal Science, has found that the noise actually originates from the collapsing of what are known as cavitation bubbles generated when the shrimps’ claws slam shut.

"When the shrimp closes its snapper claw, the water that is in between the claw-halves is squeezed out with great speed (30 metres per second), which is fast enough to generate a cavitation bubble," said Dr Michel Versluis, of the University of Twente in The Netherlands. "So, the sound of snapping shrimp is produced by this collapsing cavitation bubble and not by the claw halves hitting each other during claw closure - as was always believed," he told BBC News Online.

Noisy ocean life beneath the ocean wave is far from peaceful. Waves, rain and vocal marine mammals like dolphins and whales contribute to an underwater cacophony in the shallow ocean. But the dominant source of background noise is created night and day by colonies of snapping shrimps. The noise seriously interferes with military and scientific sonar used to detect underwater objects.

"They disturb underwater communication between submarines - and hostile submarines use colonies of them to hide," said Professor Detlef Lohse, also based at the University of Twente. Snapping shrimps have one normal claw and one over-sized claw, which can grow to up to half the body size of the 5-cm-long creature. The two parts of the claw are normally cocked open, but they close with lightening speed when a muscle contracts, ejecting a jet of water.

The scientists, based in the Netherlands and Germany, used an ultra-speed camera and a hydrophone in an aquarium to record what happened when seven individual shrimps closed their claws in response to being tickled by a paintbrush.

The photographs showed bubbles forming between the two parts of the closing claws. The bubbles were dissipated, along with the water jet, when the claws snapped shut. Sound recordings revealed that the snapping sound occurred well after the claw itself had closed, when the bubble collapsed.

The scientists used a mathematical equation to prove that the sound arose from imploding bubbles rather than physical contact between the claws. When water velocity is high, the pressure within the liquid drops to below the vapour pressure of water, allowing tiny air bubbles to expand. When the pressure builds back up, the bubbles implode, making a popping noise. The shrimps use cavitation to stun their prey - small crabs, fish and worms - or to communicate with other shrimps.

Lord Rayleigh was the first to investigate cavitation in 1916. The British Royal Navy asked the physicist to find out why cavitating bubbles were causing damage to the propellers of its vessels. Although Lord Rayleigh was unable to come up with a solution, he developed a set of equations that are still being used today and formed the basis for the team’s work on shrimps.

The Marine and Coastal Community Network works to increase understanding, appreciation, protection and management of marine and coastal environments.

It provides information and opinion from a variety of sources and initiates and supports community involvement to conserve life in the sea.

The MCCN is a national program administered by the Australian Marine Conservation Society. It is supported by the Federal Government's Marine Program.
We have a regional coordinator in each state and the Northern Territory.In South Australia the MCCN is hosted by University of South Australia.

Views expressed forwarded material are not necessarily those of the MCCN.



Seahorses can fly when love is involved!

On Thursday 7th September a female sea horse touched down at Adelaide Airport in search of a mate. The seahorse arrived from Port Lincoln at 9.30 am courtesy of Ansett Airfreight.

The sea horse’s visit to Adelaide has been orchestrated by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) in an effort to find "Paul", a male pot-belly seahorse who currently lives at the Institute’s Marine Discovery Centre, a mate.

The search for a mate began when Aquarium Officer, Ursula, detected that Paul was obviously in the mood for romance. "He constantly performed a courtship dance in the tank, but unfortunately he had no one to impress," explained Ursula.

South Australian Seahorse Marine Services Manager Tracy Warland heard about the dilemma and has kindly donated a young "captive bred" female that was housed at the South Australian Seahorse Marine Services in Port Lincoln.

Seahorses are native to South Australia. The big-bellied seahorse is the largest and most commonly seen species of seahorses in the southern Australian waters. They grow to a length of about 25cm. It has 23 -31 rays on the dorsal fin and is generally a yellowish colour with dark spots.

They live near sheltered and moderately exposed reefs around Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and Tasmania.………

The Marine Discovery Centre plays a key roll in developing a greater appreciation and knowledge of our marine creatures and their environment.…..

Tim Hoile


Jewels of the Sea Project

Tony Isaacson has been released from teaching responsibilities at Hallett Cove School in term three (2000) to coordinate development of Coastcare funded "Jewels of the Sea" kits.

These transportable educational kits are intended to develop understanding of South Australian marine and coastal biodiversity for students in the junior and middle years of schooling (Reception to Year 4 & Year 8 Science) and for community groups.

The Nature Education Centre at Norwood will probably be the point of contact for these resources. Loans of 3 to 4 weeks will be available for a nominal fee and an agreement to cover the cost of lost or damaged items. Traditional uses of our coast and the Tjilbruke trail are intended to feature in this project.

The early childhood kit is modeled on the successful Victorian project "Octopus’s Garden". A reprint of the Victorian resource guide will be a companion volume to the "Jewels of the Sea" and activities will be linked to the South Australian Curriculum Standards and Accountability Framework (SACSA). There should be a "Jewels of the Sea" and "Octopus’s Garden" Resource Guide sent to every school in South Australia by Seaweek 2001 (

Members of the Marine Life Society of South Australia are to be asked for commonly beach washed specimens and to provide marine photography and interpretive material. Readers of this item are encouraged to volunteer their interest to contribute photos, drawings, activities and beachwashed items of curiosity for children.

To maximise the use of funds we are particularly keen to reduce the cost of laminating posters to less than $5.00 per unit. Book covering, calico bags and beachwashed objects of interest are all time and cost savers that Tony will appreciate during the lead up to Christmas 2000. In school term 4 Tony will only have "spare time" to bring all the elements of the project together and 5 swim bladders from the Porcupine Fish (Family DIODONTIDAE) are proving to be elusive jewels from the sea.

Tony is working from home and tracking progress of work in progress via e-mail:

All offers of assistance will be gratefully received.


Iain Evans MP

An excerpt from the electorate newsletter: "Community Update" Sept./Oct. 2000

Official Marine Emblem for SA

Recently, I had the pleasure in announcing the Leafy Sea Dragon as the State’s first marine emblem.

The Leafy Sea Dragon is a protected species in South Australia and is a stunning example of the unique marine life found in our waters.

By joining other State icons like the Sturt Desert Pea and Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat, the Leafy Sea Dragon will play an important role in increasing community awareness of the need to protect and conserve our marine environment.

Students at Coromandel Valley Primary School have been learning about the Leafy Sea Dragon as part of their ongoing water studies programme running at Frank Smith dam.



29 August 2000

A Worm Pipefish, Nerophis lumbriciformis, was discovered underneath a rock, covered with Enteromorpha (green straggly seaweed), on Worthing beach, West Sussex. This small fish is very common on certain rocky and weedy shores, in Cornwall and Devon as well, decreasing in frequency quite quickly in an easterly direction.





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