Cape Paterson to Venus Bay
Gippsland’s Bunurong coast is full of amazing sandstone sculptures, beautiful sandy coves, rambling cliffs and prominent headlands.
Beneath the waves, an unusual set of environmental conditions have created unique marine life and communities including several marine animal and plant species that are known only from this area. The area shares the cool waters of Victoria’s central and western coasts, but unlike those shores it is relatively protected from the oceanic south-westerly swell by the position of faraway King Island. The gently sloping rocky seafloor is also unusual for Victoria.
What are the key natural features of this area?
- Rich and diverse underwater seaweed gardens. The seaweed assemblage of the Bunurong coast is quite different from other Victorian shallow reef areas. It has a high diversity of smaller seaweed species, unlike many other Victorian shallow reefs, which tend to be dominated by larger canopy formers.
- Diverse marine flora and fauna. A total of 201 algal species, 87 fish species and 258 invertebrate have been identified within the Bunurong Marine National Park Several animals and plants have been recorded in Victoria only from this area, and many others are at their most easterly location here, preferring the cool waters of Victoria’s west. The coastline is well known among marine enthusiasts for its diversity of the marine grazing snails known as chitons. It is also home to a listed sea cucumber species (Pentocnus bursatus).
- The sandy beaches, cliffs, dunes and coastal vegetation at Bunurong are an important habitat for shore birds, in particular the vulnerable Hooded Plover. This is also an important feeding and breeding area for peregrine falcons.
- Seagrass beds, including a type of seagrass commonly known as sea nymph (Amphibolis antarctica). These seagrass beds are important nursery areas for fish species and invertebrates, and also help stabilise sediments and improve to water quality.
- Extensive intertidal rock platforms. These provide microhabitats for a high diversity of intertidal and shallow subtidal invertebrate fauna, including brittle stars, sea cucumbers, chitons, colourful sea stars, feather stars, crabs and many large sea shells. Around the rocks at Eagles Nest and Twin Reefs, numerous Port Jackson sharks rest under the ledges, rock lobsters fill the crevices, and Zebra Fish, sweep and wrasse dart about the seaweed.
Marine Protected Areas:
Bunurong Marine National Park
Bunurong Marine Park
Cape Liptrap Coastal Park