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New research shows Wilsons Prom marine life rivals Great Barrier Reef

Monday 24 August, 2015

Amazing marine life deep beneath the sea in Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park has been revealed thanks to new technology that has allowed scientists a glimpse of the unusual marine communities for the first time. Spectacular reefs containing colourful sponge gardens, corals, and abundant fish species are just some of the features recorded during the recent scientific expeditions.

Parks Victoria Marine Science Manager, Steffan Howe said the popular area is famous for its stunning landscapes above the water, but what lives deep beneath the sea has previously been unknown. He said cutting edge technology is now making it easier to explore these areas, with results beyond researchers’ expectations.

“Recent explorations used a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to record the marine life in habitats from 30-100 metres deep.

“The exciting discoveries follow previous research that mapped the park’s sea floor in detail. The maps identified some amazing underwater structures very deep beneath the ocean, but we did not know what sort of marine life was there. These latest expeditions used cutting-edge technology including underwater video cameras and a robotic vehicle to record the spectacular marine life found in many of the deeper areas of the park for the first time.

“The resulting footage shows that the deep reef habitats are teeming with life and are home to rich and abundant marine ecosystems that are comparable to Australia’s better-known tropical reef areas. The extent and abundance of spectacular sponge gardens and corals is a particularly exciting find,” said Dr Howe.

“It is important for us to have a comprehensive understanding of the habitats and inhabitants in Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park to help guide how we manage this important area in the future. The discoveries and footage will also enable us to showcase Victoria’s spectacular marine environment to the thousands of visitors who come to this park each year,” said Dr Howe.

Highlights of the discovery and mapping expeditions include:

  • Massive coral fans, large sea whips and colourful sponge gardens beyond scientists expectations.
  • Extensive walls, house-sized boulders, ridges and caverns with a diverse range of colourful sponges, hard and soft corals and abundant fish life.
  • 90 m deep holes with big schools of deep sea perch; fish that can grow to 80 cm long.
  • Complex underwater dune systems including one about 30 metres high and 2 km long
  • Abundant fish species including some that are said to be of conservation significance as they are rare at the state level. Examples include the Australian barracuda (Sphyraena novaehollandiae) and Longsnout Boarfish (Pentaceropsis recurvirostris).

Media enquiries

Kate Milkins
0437 129 031

Parks Victoria media centre

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