The hooded keeper of this treasure trove glowers warningly from his island, arms folded, tail curled beneath him.
I assure him I won’t touch anything, just look.
The tide is turning, so soon his garden will be safe once more from plunderers… and blunderers like me.
The scalloped sand ripples around smaller rock islands seem to show a tide that receded in circles, leaving a rococo mirror for the small patch of blue sky peeping though the clouds.
Other parts of the rock shelf mirrored the land world more dramatically, with plateau lakes, rushing waterfalls, steep cliffs and deep fjords.
The forests of cunjevoi nearest the sea edge were glowing bright green, not having been exposed to the sun for too long, and about to be submerged again.
I began to think of the clever adaptability of all the inhabitants, animal and vegetable, of this tidal shelf.
The shells can close up to prevent evaporation, but so do these Chelsea-bun-shaped creatures.
Every now and then one of them shoots a stream of water into the air before closing again. I managed to photograph these with their little red mouths still open right after such an ejection. The bubbles they created are still visible.
I could see those red mouths because there is little vivid colour in these pools, so this red starfish was a beacon.
In other pools there were many starfish, but far more secretively camouflaged, mainly blue or with duller reddish tips. They were well hidden amongst the showy seagarden plants or part buried in sand.
But this garden has as much sculpture as plants – rocks of gold and amber, decorated with filigree created by the Galeolaria seaworms, studded with the pearls of more mobile shells.
It even has more modern industrial-style sculpture sections, where vertical rules divided the rocks before freeform artistic elements were added.
I am yet again in awe of the design intrinsic in Nature, which we can only emulate. Perhaps, as we veer from fire to flood seasons, we might also emulate the adaptability of the inhabitants of rock shelves.