Portland Bay and Deen Maar
The local Gunditjmara people have a spiritual, traditional and contemporary connection to Deen Maar (Lady Julia Percy Island). This land is the traditional home of the Peek Whurrong speakers of the Dhauwurdwurung (Gunditj Mara) Nation and is of special cultural significance to local Aboriginal people. Bunjil, the Creator, left this world from Deen Maar, and the adjoining mainland and wetlands are also of great spiritual significance.
What are the key natural features of this area?
- The area around Portland Bay and Deen Maar is constantly exposed to the pounding waves of the Southern Ocean. Portland Bay offers sheltered habitat where seagrass beds can flourish, while Deen Maar has diverse seaweed habitats including beds of Bull Kelp.
- Portland Bay contains the most extensive known beds of Amphibolis Antarctica seagrass on the open coast in Victoria. The highly productive seagrass ecosystem supports a diverse invertebrate community and is a nursery ground for juvenile fish such as King George Whiting, and occasionally snapper and shark. The site is also one of the very few locations where the rare brown algae Cystophora cymodocea occurs, growing attached to the seagrass. Low and high profile rocky reefs here are habitats for a range of reef species.
- Deen Maar is a site of national geological and geomorphological importance. Recent surveys of the bathymetry around Deen Maar Island have identified unique deep reef and pinnacle habitat, increasing its ecological importance in terms of uniqueness and as an ecological unit. The sharply sloping reefs of the southern and eastern sides of the island are covered by a dense kelp canopy, a habitat for other marine life, while at the northern end the island drops into a sandy seabed. The subtidal area around Deen Maar is considered to be some of the most spectacular underwater environments in Victoria. The island is a wildlife reserve.
- Deen Maar is home to one of Victoria’s two largest Australian Fur Seal breeding colonies, a rookery for the Common Diving Petrel, and a breeding habitat for many species of birds including the White-bellied Sea-eagle and Fairy Prion. The island is also a Great White Shark feeding area, and may serve as a breeding area for these endangered sharks.
- The adjoining mainland and wetlands are home to many wildlife species, including the endangered Orange-bellied Parrot. About 20 of the parrots have been discovered in the Deen Maar Indigenous Protected Area, representing around 15 per cent of all the parrots surviving in Australia.
Marine Protected Areas
There are no marine protected areas within this region but nearby protected areas include:
Discovery Bay Coastal Park
Discovery Bay Marine National Park
Cape Nelson State Park
Merri Marine Sanctuary