They come in all shapes and sizes. Below the Navy Pier (built by Americans here in Exmouth, to support the construction of the lovely VLF, aka Very Low Frequency, radio towers that you may see poking out of photos of the area), there are some big ones. The Big Friendly Grouper, rumored to have been desirous of chin rubs and head pats since the 1960s or so, is perhaps the most obvious of the large predators. Though he lives up to his name with regard to divers, the BFG could still suck down some pretty big fish if he so chose. The Wikipedia page for Queensland groupers, of which he is one, states that they consume a large variety of marine life including “large sharks and juvenile sea turtles.”
Yeah, I dunno. Large sharks? Whatever. We gave his giant green-gray dorsum a good pat on the sand near the pier and moved on- I’ll see if I can get some photos from my dive buddy, because at that point my poor little camera had sucked down a bit too much salt water.
Our next predator, though, was much more colorful, and just a bit smaller:
The photo’s not my best by any means, but these little colorful guys (Harlequin shrimp snacking on an unfortunate sea star) were tucked in among what appeared in low light to be gray-blue-green rocks, and I had to hang a bit upside-down and change my white balance to get it. Perhaps the shrimp don’t seem as intimidating as other predators I’ve mentioned on this blog, but that’s only because you don’t move solely on tube feet. To this sea star, they’re the scariest thing on six legs.
My third and final predator for this post:
The greynurse shark (Carcharius taurus) is known to be non-aggressive… unless provoked. Happily nobody in our dive group was interested in provoking anyone or anything, and for the most part the little sharkies (2-3m, maybe 6-9 feet?) took very little notice of us at all. With the visibility under the pier, maybe 8-10 meters maximum, it was very easy for them to slip out of view, which was a bit disconcerting, but thrilling nonetheless. The most archetypal predator, lurking in the murky depths, gliding without effort through the jumbled wrecks of past and sunken human endeavors… You don’t notice until you get to see one up close, but they’re all fine-tuned muscle, tough cartilage, and suspicious eyes balanced and perfectly buoyant in the water. And you look at them, bubbles spewing from your regulator and pooling against the underside of the rusting beams over your head, bobbing up and down each time you breathe, hands shaking (from cold, of course) and bright plastic fin tips brushing the rubble below you, and you wonder how little soft pink humans ever got to think they were in charge of the world.