Corals of the Exmouth Navy Pier

Author: Andrew Baird

The Exmouth Navy Pier is often ranked as one of the 10 best shore dive sites, famous for its fish life and invertebrates such as nudibranchs, octopus, and harlequin shrimp. However, what it is not so well known for its corals, indeed, about 5 minutes into our dive I thought I had wasted my dough having only encountered a few colonies of Psammocora cf. albopicta amongst the hundreds of fish that were obscuring the view. Nevertheless, once we ventured out from under the Pier and found a rocky reef toward the land the dive definitely improved. By the end of the dive I had photographed at least 40 different coral species, many of which do not occur on the west coast of Ningaloo. These included what might be Acropora japonica Veron 1990, a species I have previously only seen in Miyasaki and Kochi in northern Japan (Figure 1), and at least on species I don’t think I have seen before which is likely to be undescribed (Figure 2). One of the highlights of the day was meeting the daughter of Dr Charles Sheppard who is a giant in the field of coral reef ecology. Shep runs a tight ship and she and the staff at Dive Ningaloo were wonderful. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend diving the Pier even if, like me, you are not into fish or nudibranchs.

Figure 1. (a) & (b) Acropora cf. japonica at the Exmouth Navy Pier Western Australia and (c) & (d) A. japonica at the type location for the species in Miyazaki, Kyushu, Japan

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