Tag Archives: marine life

SWELL’s up at Currumbin Beach

Jellyfish tree by Melissa Hirsch

Jellyfish tree by Melissa Hirsch

For 10 days each September, Currumbin Beach comes alive with creativity and wonder at the annual SWELL Sculpture Festival.

It’s the perfect way to spend a blissful spring day, with over 60 sculptures stretching one kilometre along the beachfront at the southern end of Queensland’s Gold Coast. The only challenge is to pick your favourite.

Created by artists from across Australia and the world, the sculptures range from hugely spectacular to tiny but powerful, with some coming alive at night (in a good way). And each has a story…

Marie-France Rose has created Cirque du Ciel (Circus of the Sky). One of these gorgeously elegant trapeze artists definitely belongs in my garden.

Marie-France Rose has created Cirque du Ciel (Circus of the Sky). One of these gorgeously elegant trapeze artists definitely belongs in my garden.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Tidelines by Tessa Bergen – reflecting the Surfers Paradise skyline, this piece highlights the changing face of our surrounds and the resulting impact on the natural environment…

#thewall by Leonie Rhodes - we've been making wall art since the days of cavemen. It's a valid, expressive and communicative form of art (and I love it!)

#thewall by Leonie Rhodes – we’ve been making wall art since the days of cavemen. It’s a valid, expressive and communicative form of art (and I love it!)

Copyright: Louise Creely

Ghost fish, googlemon and King Coal hit the beach at Currumbin

Roo Shooter by Jimmy Rix:

Roo Shooter by Jimmy Rix: “Some people do it for sport and some people do it for a profession, but I would like to see our Skippy fighting back.”

Magnificient, a life size sculpture of a line by Ivan Lovett - all made out of chicken wire. It really is...magnificent

Magnificient, a life size sculpture of a lion by Ivan Lovett – all made out of chicken wire. It really is…well…magnificent

Ben Carroll does some quick repairs to his sculpture Relics from Atlantis, which won the SWELL environmental award

Winner of the SWELL sculpture aware, Lost and Found by NSW artist Ingrid Morley, reflects

Winner of the SWELL sculpture award, Lost and Found by NSW artist Ingrid Morley, reflects “the tension and final breaking of the rope and the implied loss as the ‘boat’ breaks away”. Morley says her work is “a metaphor for the significant turning points in life”.

I sea by Guiseppe Filardo

I sea by Guiseppe Filardo

Sea tunnel by Adrienne Kenafake

Sea tunnel by Adrienne Kenafake

These are just some of my favourites – but there are so many brilliant works, it’s impossible to choose. I think the last word has to go to Greg Quinton and his Hills Hoist sculpture: You should always know where your towel is.

always know where your towel is


Heaven’s here on Earth… at Black Rocks

Copyright: Louise Ralph

We went back to Black Rocks in Bundjalung National Park this weekend…I meant it when I said we love this place.

This time we took our kayak and paddled up Jerusalem Creek. It was a gorgeous, although not exactly leisurely, paddle.

While I practice my zen paddling technique upfront, EB makes like an outboard motor in the back.

Somehow it works… well, having a rudder stops us turning circles at least.

Copyright: Louise RalphAnd I get to take photos along the way (with my trusty iPhone in its LifeProof case – and no, this isn’t some dodgy promo!).

The isolation, where the creek meets the sea, is simply sensational.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Copyright: Louise RalphAnd then there are those endless walks along Ten Mile Beach… where paw prints reveal the nightly wanderings of wild dogs in search of shorebird eggs, and huge bluebottles – some with four-metre stingers – are strewn along the tideline.

We weigh up the odds of getting stung, figure they’re all stranded on the beach, and plunge into the icy water.

Luckily we escape unharmed, in time to spot a mother and baby whale making their way down the coastline along the whale ‘super highway’.

Closer in, three dolphins glide in and out of the waves.

Later, along the walking tracks, wildflowers are bloomin’ fabulous, grass trees raise their flower spikes to the sky and a bee homes in on a solitary flower.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Back in our campground, tiny birds feast on grass seeds and a goanna wanders through our camp, tasting the air with a flick of its tongue.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

It reminds me of the words of a Tracy Chapman song…

“I’ve touched creations beautiful and wondrous
I’ve been places where I question all I think I know
But I believe, I believe, I believe this could be heaven…
The world is our temple
The world is our church
Heaven’s here on earth…”

Copyright: Louise Ralph

 


Snakes alive… on Amedee Island

Copyright: Louise Ralph

There’s a lot to love about the trip to Amedee Island on the Mary D. Swimming with resident green turtles is a major highlight in a totally relaxing day.

But I just couldn’t go past the snakes – well, without nearly stepping on one.

I’d just taken some photos of the awesome lighthouse, rising up in the perfect light against postcard cloud formations. Turning to catch up to EB, I only just caught sight of something slithery at my feet…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

It’s not like you can miss something this dramatic. This black and rust striped Tricot rayé (Striped sea snake) and several snakey-mates are curled up along the pathway and very close to my feet. Nearby, there are blue and black-striped ones.

These gorgeous sea snakes are more venomous than cobras but totally chillaxed! Which is pretty lucky considering I am totally distracted by nature, and tend to not pay attention to where I put my feet!

Later, walking along the beach, a gorgeous specimen slithers past on its way to a shady spot among the rocks…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

These shy, reclusive creatures still have lungs, so they come onto land to hang about and digest their food (usually fish and eels), then head back into the sea to hunt at night.

Fascinated as we were with them, there is so much to do here – a glass bottom boat, a trip out to the reef, snorkelling, swimming, island fare and entertainment, or just wandering around this peaceful island…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Copyright: Louise Ralph

But seriously, those snakes…

copyright: Louise Ralph

 

 

 


Another world…Aquarium des Lagons

Hands up if, like me, one of your earliest career choices was Marine Biologist… Let’s take a trip back to the future in New Caledonia, where fascinating marine life thrives in a pristine environment…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

New Caledonian is surrounded by a barrier reef, the second largest in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It’s created a perfect environment for marine life to survive and thrive.

I usually avoid stats like the plague, but these are pretty impressive:

  • 454 marine plant species
  • 1,965 fish species
  • 2,150 mollusc species
  • 4,000 crustacean species
  • 150 types of coral formations.

And that’s not all… There are major nesting sites here for marine turtles, as well as breeding areas for dugong, humpback whales and seabirds.

Of course, the best way to see it is diving or snorkelling. But you can get up close and personal with this mindblowing diversity, without getting your feet wet, at the Aquarium des Lagons…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

It’s not often you get an underwater perspective of critical habitats like these mangroves…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Fishy colour and movement – including eye makeup apparently

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Things that make you go…awww (now anyway) – a baby black-tipped reef shark…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

There are 150 types of coral in the New Caledonia lagoon…some that glows in the dark!

I felt like a kid hanging over the re-created rock pools, full of all sorts of marine wonders…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Copyright: Louise Ralph Copyright: Louise Ralph

No doubt I also looked like a kid with my face pressed against the glass of the huge aquariums, pretending I was back scuba diving – something I haven’t done for at least 20 years.

Now that’s what I call relaxation therapy…


a beach somewhere…

The beaches near and not too far from us are so full of life, and not just human life (although there’s a lot of that). The ‘beachscape’ is always changing shape, carried away and built up again with the wild winds and shifting tides.

This weekend, on a visit to Byron Bay, the beach was back. Where not so long ago it was a strip of sand, now it stretches far and wide.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

dusk settles on another absolutely perfect day at Byron Bay…

And on another beach wander closer to home, the shoreline at Pottsville beach is littered with pumice stone. Queensland University of Technology’s pumice expert Dr Scott Bryan explained the mystery to Sydney Morning Herald columnist Tim the Yowie Man:

‘ “It’s the result of the July 2012 eruption of the Havre Seamount, which is about 1000 kilometres north of Auckland”… the underwater volcano spewed out a ”raft of pumice estimated to be more than 20,000 square kilometres in size”. That’s a surface area bigger than Belgium.’ (SMH, 10 January 2014)

A closer look at the ‘moving’ volcanic stones littering our beach reveals that marine creatures have hitched a ride on the pumice. Sometimes they are welcome, like coral-building species, and sometimes they are invasive species.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

mysterious creatures hitch rides on the pumice stone to seed or invade the oceans

There is something magical about wandering along a beach somewhere. Something that feeds your soul, connects you to the power and mystery of nature, and keeps drawing you back time and again.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Sand squiggles or aerial views? It depends on your perspective…