Dense stands of Red Sea Whips (Ellisella sp.) and clinging tangles of colourful crinoids give Susan's Reef a unique aesthetic quality that sets it apart from other Walindi reefs.
The sea whips are most numerous at the reef's southern end between seventy-five and fifty-five feet (15m) as it rises up from a saddle that connects the dive site to the much larger Vanessa's reef. This area is crammed with a stunning collection of hard and soft corals including large gorgonian fans and elephant ear sponges, all adorned with colourful crinoids ... a delight to all who dive here.
Susan's Reef extends in a northerly direction with a sheer wall on its east side and a sloping garden of hard corals on the west. At the crest of the connecting saddle, at about eighty feet (twenty five metres), are some pale sea fans and when the current is right, a few small sea pens push up through the sand to feed.
Continuing upward past the sea whips a diver comes upon three large red sea fans. The deepest, at forty-six feet, is a good place to find the long-nose hawk fish. Above the thirty foot (ten metre) depth, the reef is almost exclusively composed of dense staghorn corals among which sea anemones serve as hosts to three different kinds of anemone fish including the Tomato Clown Fish, also known as the Spine Cheek Clown Fish, with the large dark female protecting her smaller, bright red male companion.
Seemingly oblivious to the surrounding splendor, a multitude of fish life go about their business. A school of Razorfish (Aeoliscus strigatus) live in the red sea whips at 14 meters near the southern corner of the reef. These fish swim head down in a bobbing manner, making them difficult to see amongst the sea whips. When danger approaches they turn their narrow body sideways making them even harder to see.
There are a variety of Butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae) and Angelfish (Pomacanthidae) commonly seen around the reef and the Pixie Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco) is particularly abundant here.
One special highlight for macro enthusiasts is the Denis Pygmy Sea Horse at twenty four metres. Nearby there is a slot in the reefs with a resident Electric Clam flashing it’s beautiful colours. Divers have observed thousands of Damselfish eggs on a Whip Coral, tiny eyes visible within the eggs. Also the Barrier Reef Clown fish (Amphiprion clarki) with eggs not far from hatching … the baby fish seem to be growing like tiny plants from a seed.
What you might see ...
A small selection of features of Susan's Reef
- Red Sea Whips (Ellisella sp.)
- Gorgonian Fans
- Elephant Ear Sponges
- Razorfish (Aeoliscus strigatus)
- Long Nose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus)
- Butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae)
- Angelfish (Pomacanthidae)
- Pixie Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco)
- Barrier Reef Clown fish (Amphiprion clarki)
- Denis Pygmy Sea Horse
- Spine Cheek Clown Fish
- Christmas Tree worms