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Motorhome Travels - December 2010

01/12/2010

We have been camped at Cliff Head (just south of Dongara) for a few weeks now. We arrived here in time for the opening of the crayfish season and we have spent quite a lot of time in and under the water since then. It has been really fascinating to see the changes underwater as the crayfish molt their old deep red shells, wait under ledges in their new soft white form until their armour hardens then set off for deeper water. Our professional cray-fisherman friend Ian, has long spoken of the white crayfish that are caught at this time of the year then suddenly disappear.

On our first visit underwater the ocean floor was littered with what looked like dead crayfish. These discarded shells are so complete that you have to wonder how the crayfish got out of the shell leaving it so totally complete (I found this cool video on YouTube that shows a crayfish molt in action). Under every ledge and rock crayfish hide as they wait for their new shells to harden. During this time they do not venture out even to eat and are therefore not caught in the fisherman's pots. They are still vulnerable to those of us who visit them on the bottom and pluck them from their hiding places.

Almost all at once they decide that the new armor is good enough to head out in search of food. This is bonanza time for the fishermen as the hungry crayfish pour into their waiting pots. We had two pots set for this time and got our quota of 12 crayfish (6 each) almost every day. This feast does not last for long and within a few days almost all of the new white crayfish have gone from the shallow (dive-able) waters into much deeper waters off shore. Our catch in the pots drops to two, then one then zero per day. We see fewer eyes and feelers under ledges and eat more fish and sausages.

Ian says that they will not be back for a few months and in a few days he will move all of his pots out to very deep water.

Here are a few of the photos I took a couple of mornings ago of Ian and his crew heading off for the days fishing. It was a calm morning with really great light.

Sunrise at Cliff Head, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
Sunrise at Cliff Head, WA

Trixie, Ians fishing boat waits on her mooring at Cliff Head, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
Trixie, Ians fishing boat waits on
her mooring at Cliff Head, WA

The old landcruser makes its way to the beach with crates and the days bait, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
The old landcruser makes its way to
the beach with crates and the days
bait, WA

Pete the deckie, fetches the dingie, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
Pete the deckie, fetches the dingie,
WA

Ian (left) and the crew launch the loaded dingie, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
Ian (left) and the crew launch the
loaded dingie, WA

And so begins the days fishing, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
[Photo Information]
And so begins the days fishing, WA

 

12/12/2010

It is hard to get away from Cliff Head - that is why we are still here. The weather has been amazing and we have been able to go out snorkeling and diving almost every day. We have just returned from an early morning boat trip and the water is about as clear as I have seen it here. The purpose of this mornings wetness was not to return with fish for lunch (although we did not return empty handed) - but to try out the new spear gun arrangement.

The shack shower with the outside iron removed, WA - [Click for a Larger Image]
The shack shower with the outside
iron removed, WA

You see next Thursday (the 16th) is the opening of the season for all "demersal fish". This includes the famous West Australian dhufish (pronounced "jew-fish"), most prized of all West Australian fish. To ready ourselves for the 16th, I have added an extra rubber to the spear gun and additional cable.