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The Victorian Embayments Marine Bioregion*

This bioregion encompasses Victoria's bays, inlets and estuaries including Port Phillip Bay, Westernport Bay, Corner Inlet/Nooramunga, Shallow Inlet and Mallacoota Inlet. There are 123 bays and inlets along the Victorian coast varying in size from 1950 km2 to less than 1 km2. Although all are grouped into one bioregion, individual areas are quite distinct from each other, particularly the larger bays.

What characteristics distinguish this bioregion?

  • Water is confined in these areas for a period of time.
  • Wave energy is low.
  • Each bay, inlet and estuary is generally basin-shaped and less than 25m deep.
  • The floors of embayments and estuaries are typically muddy or silty.
  • Water temperatures and salinity levels fluctuate over a wider range compared to nearby ocean waters.

What are some of the significant natural values of the bioregion?

  • The highly diverse coastal saltmarsh communities of Corner Inlet/Nooramunga, Westernport Bay and the south-western end of Port Phillip Bay.
  • The extensive broad-leaf seagrass meadows in Corner Inlet.
  • The exceptionally high diversity of marine species found on the intertidal reef near San Remo at the southern end of Westernport Bay.
  • Seafloor beds of lamp shells or brachiopods in Western Port Bay. The ancient forms of brachiopods arose in the Cambrian Period (490 to 545 million years ago).
  • The breeding aggregations of elephant fish Callorhinchus milii in the south eastern end of Western Port.
  • The annual spring migration of snapper Pagrus auratus into northern Port Phillip Bay.

Marine Protected Areas in the region

Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary
Jawbone Marine Sanctuary
Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary
Yaringa Marine National Park
French Island Marine National Park
Churchill Island Marine National Park
Corner Inlet Marine National Park
Corner Inlet Marine and Coastal Park
Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Parks

* What is a marine bioregion?
A marine bioregion is a large area of the sea that, through the complex interaction of ocean currents, wave energy, seawater temperature, seafloor geology and geography, displays a distinct grouping or pattern of marine plant and animal communities and species.
For example, the plant and animal species and the habitats that dominate the warm waters of the Twofold bioregion in eastern Victoria are very different to those found in the cold, open waters of the Otway bioregion in the west.
The map on the home page suggests that marine bioregions appear to be divided into distinct areas with clearly defined boundaries, but the boundaries between them are dynamic and not hard lines.
The ocean waters on Australia's continental shelf have been classified into 60 marine bioregions. Victoria's coastal waters span 5 of these regions.