Just a couple of weeks ago, while we were still down under, we visited Bussleton Jetty. Bussleton is around 2.5 hours drive south from Perth where we were staying. The Jetty pushes out to sea, some 1.8 kilometres (1.08 miles) and is said to be the longest timber piled jetty in the southern hemisphere and is second in length only to the UKs Southend Pier which at 2.18 kilometres (1.29 miles) is the worlds longest. Apart from the pleasure of walking the length of jetty and partaking of the fresh sea air there is an added attraction. At the end of the jetty is the Underwater Observatory (UWO) which allows visitors climb down some 8 metres to the sea bed.
We were lucky enough to join the last tour of the day and we were just six including the guide. The photo above is the first landing of the spiral staircase which has a window allowing one to observe the pilings and the creatures that inhabit the intra-tidal areas.
Further on down there are several other windows giving a unique view of the world below the waves. The lighting is quite subdued inside the observatory allowing for the natural lighting outside to appear very bright. We were lucky to visit when the sun was shining brightly and the sea was very clear. Apparently there had been some churn of the seabed a few days previously due to the winds that blew in. Even so taking pictures through the very thick glass does make photography a challenge.
Picture above is of a Red Bait Crab. So called because of its popularity for use as bait by the fishermen. This guy was very busy harvesting food amongst the corals and seaweeds. Apparently they will eat just about anything. A bit like me then.
Apart from the distortion caused by the glass, there is a magnification effect making things appear closer than they really are. Apparently they have the windows cleaned regularly as the sea creatures would very soon take over the surface of the glass just as readily as the remainder of the structure. Imagine that on your CV, “Underwater Window Cleaner”.
Unlike the typical aquarium you would find in a zoo or at some seaside town the UWO is a bit of a lottery. Fish can come and go as they please. I managed to capture some of the species on our visit.
There were many more species spotted than I have captured or even presented here. Unfortunately not all presented themselves close enough to the glass to for me to grab a snap. Great excitement was generated when an octopus was spotted on the seabed but for me the best moment was when a cormorant came down like a rocket chasing a shoal of fish. The air trapped in his feathers made him look like a silver missile. The agility he displayed not just with the initial dive but followed up by horizontally chasing the shoal at seabed level was amazing.
Soon it was time for us to leave and begin the long walk back. The wind had gotten up which made for a very blustery walk. The journey back seemed much longer.
All along the jetty there are interesting plaques to read. Some are folks reminiscences from the past. Some bear historical facts and some are memorial plaques for folks whose ashes have been scattered from the jetty.
And could this be a statue of the young girl whose memories Lucy Dougan describes above ?
Or perhaps, Jetsam below ?
Both of the plaques conjure up images of a bygone era and touch on my own memories of a childhood tied strongly to the sea and seashore.