Dugong Encounter

Lemon Butter Fish over Crushed Peas

Lemon Butter Fish over Crushed Peas

Today, we had an amazing afternoon of fishing-not for the fish caught but for the things we saw, including a huge turtle that swam right under us, a huge octopus that chased a fish we’d hooked up to the boat, a dugong right by the boat, and a dickhead boat operator towing a water skier right by where we were fishing.

We see a lot of turtles, but the water clarity was good, we were in quite shallow and the turtle was big so it was a good sighting. Even two turtle-jaded people like us were impressed!

It is the first time an octopus has ever chased up a hooked fish-squid and other fish and sharks do it but we’ve never had an octopus do it. He was big too.

Not long after that, Russ told me he’d seen a dugong. I thought “oh yeah, bet it was a turtle or dolphin” as we rarely see dugongs in Coral Bay. We see many more in Shark Bay where around 10,000 supposedly live, feeding on the sea grass beds there. Anyhow he turned away and I spotted a big tail flicking out of the water as the dugong dived to feed. Then he was up again and resting on the water surface so we could see all his broad back and blunt snout revealed. he stayed by the boat for about 20 minutes feeding occasionally before he swam lazily away. Quite amazing and another free experience had from our tinny!

The water skier was a less pleasant encounter. The boat was several kilometres out of the ski zone, they had no spotter, the skier had no life vest, and they were skiing in 3 metres of rough water over coral. Talk about fools and if anything had happened, I feel we’d have been obligated to go help the idiots, mush as I’d have preferred not to.

As far as the fishing went, we caught a couple of feeds which are now tucked away in the freezer, so that was OK too.

Dinner tonight was a spangled emperor I caught yesterday. Russ reckons this one can be repeated at a later date! I reckon the pea puree would be great with a little mint added and served beside roast lamb.

Lemon Butter Fish Over Crushed Peas

  • Spray oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • white fish fillets, enough for two people
  • 2 green onion, ends trimmed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into 2 pieces
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
  • Lemon wedges (optional), to serve


  • 3/4 cup hot chicken stock
  • 300g frozen baby peas
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
Before Cooking

Before Cooking


  1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Line 2 pieces of foil with same sized baking paper. Spray with the spray oil. Rub the lemon rind and lemon juice over the fish.
  2. Divide the fish among the foil pieces. Top with green onions, capers and butter, season with salt and pepper. Fold the foil to seal. Place on a large baking tray and bake for 10 minutes or until cooked to 65c when checked with a thermometre.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the pea puree, bring the stock, peas and onion to the boil in a medium saucepan. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the stock.
  4. Return the peas to the pan. Add the butter and use a stick blender to process, adding a little of the reserved stock if necessary, until a coarse puree forms. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Divide the pea mix among serving plates. Top with the fish and drizzle over the juices. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
Lemon Butter Fish over Crushed Peas

Lemon Butter Fish over Crushed Peas


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