Sunday, 3 April 2016

Snorkelers in for a surprise at Coolangatta

Old wife (Enoplosus armatus), Coolangatta.

A surprisingly deep rock pool has formed at Snapper Rocks just in time for the school holidays, and is filled with a large variety of colourful fish.

Most noticeable are schools of two striped species, the convict tang (Acanthurus triostegus) and the Indo-Pacific sergeant major (Abudefduf vaigiensis), but the pool—about two metres deep in some parts—holds many more piscean wonders.

Standing at the water's edge and looking around the corners of the submerged boulders will reveal tiny, iridescent blue Australian damsel (Pomacentrus australis) juveniles.

Left to right: Vagabond butterflyfish, racoon butterflyfish,
Getting your snorkeling gear on is the best way to see the fish life however, and will allow you to see species you might otherwise expect to find somewhere like the Great Barrier Reef, such as the gorgeous vagabond (Chaetodon vagabundis) and racoon butterflyfish (C. lunula)

Dusky frillgoby (Bathygobius fuscus), Coolangatta.

These species and many others in the rockpool are juveniles that have drifted south on warm summer currents, seeking shelter in the shallows.

Other colourful fish that can be seen at present include the black-saddled goatfish (Parapeneus spilurus), stripey (Microcanthus strigatus) and gold-lined sweetlip (Plectorhinchus chrysotaenia).

This is not the first time I have had an amazing snorkeling experience at Snapper Rocks; last year I filmed a video and wrote an article about it for Gecko, a Gold Coast environmental group.

It seems that around Easter is the best time of year for rockpool formation at Snapper Rocks—at other times, I have visited with high hopes and my snorkeling gear only to find the terrain buried under mounds of sand pumped out from the nearby Tweed River.

It looks like this will just have to become my April tradition, a perfect way to end the summer each year.

Rockpool sunset, Coolangatta.


  1. I haven't snorkeled in a few years. but I did go to sea world in March.

    1. That's the slightly more expensive and a whole lot drier way to do it, Sharon! Haha! Thanks for reading and commenting :)

  2. Wow! I had no idea! I am usually photographing long exposures at Snapper Rocks during sunset.

    1. Now you know what treasure dwells beneath the waves :)