Recently, when walking along the beach from O’Donohue’s to Urquhart Bluff after the recent south-easterly squalls, eight dead Fairy Penguins, Eudyptula minor, were found with a couple of Fluttering Shearwater, Puffinus gavial.
The birds were in various stages of decay so it could be the case that they perished well out to sea and eventually got washed ashore. There appeared to be no obvious predatory markings on the fresher specimens. They may have been overwhelmed in the recent storms out at sea.
We have also had some very low tides recently and it was fascinating to find the Decorator Crabs, Notomithrax ursus, in the rock pools at Point Roadknight.
These crabs are terrific aquatic gardeners and transplant onto their upper carapace various forms of seaweed and algae to brilliantly camouflage themselves within their environment.
Decorator Crab top view
Another possible result of the large tides was the finding of a washed-up Melbourne Sand Skate, Dipturus whitleyi, a relative of the stingray family. Even though this specimen was dead it still shows its distinct prominent nasal snout with depression, its light sand colouring which gives it remarkable camouflage and its spiny thick tail including a tail fin but with no barbs.
Melbourne Sand Skate
In early March, a group of regular morning walkers found a small shark beaching itself near Point Roadknight Motor Yacht Club. Both surfers and fishermen tried to drag it out to sea but unfortunately it returned each time.
A little White-faced Storm-petrel, Pelagodroma marina, was found near the rocks on Anglesea beach It was very weak and was being attacked by Silver Gulls. It was rescued but died soon after. Storm-Petrels breed in the southern waters of Australia and winter in the northern waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans during May to September.