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Environment

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The tip of Beware Reef rises above the surface and is a favourite resting-place for passing Australian Fur Seals, with a thick rim of Bull Kelp surrounding the edge of the reef. Large Maori Octopuses lurk amongst the kelp stalks.

Where there is enough light, the upper reef is covered in a dense canopy of brown seaweeds, interspersed with meadows of furry green and red seaweeds. On another is a pink garden of encrusting coralline algae, kept free of large kelps by the voracious appetite of the Back Sea urchin hiding during the day under ledges. At night large Maori Octopuses lurk amongst the kelp stalks.

Lower down the reef, steep walls plunge into the depths of the sea. These walls are covered with filter-feeding animals such as large finger sponges, brilliant red sea fans, sea tulips, long sinuous sea-whips and carpets of orange anemones. Out of every crevice, pink and blue brittle stars stick their spiny arms out into the water to feed. Green, orange and white feather stars are abundant between rocks.

Fish are prolific on the reef. Trumpeters, Old Wives, Long-Snouted Boarfish, wrasses, morwongs and sea sweep patrol the rocks. Port Jackson Sharks and Wobbegong Sharks can be seen resting in sandy hollows. Even whales are occasionally seen further out to sea.

The Long-Snouted Boarfish can be seen guarding small territories in the crevices and caves of Beware Reef. It is found on the deeper sections of the reef and also occurs in other waters down to over 150 metres, which is far deeper than the waters of Bass Strait. The Long-Snouted Boarfish is effective at prying into rocky crevices in search of invertebrates and the fish is one of the few that feeds on brittle stars and feather stars. Growing to around 50 centimetres, Long-Snouted Boarfish are at their most stunning with their fins fully extended. However, this sight is becoming increasingly rare on heavily fished reefs where the species has declined. Long-Snouted Boarfish are only found in the waters of southeastern Australia.

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