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Environment

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Within the bays sheltered waters are communities of four of Victoria's species of seagrasses which form extensive beds here. These include:

  • Victoria's most extensive beds of Strapweed or the Broad-Leaf Seagrass (Poisidonia australis), the dominant seagrass growing on submerged banks 
  • Swan Grass (Zostera Muelleri) growing in the intertidal areas 
  • Eelgrass (Heterozostera tasmanica) growing on the top and base of submerged banks
  • Southern Paddleweed (Halophila australis) which grows around the edge of Poisidonia beds and across sandy patches.

Around the base of seagrasses are occasional clumps of sea squirts, sponges, and various green algae including the fleshy branching Codium fragile or Dead Man's Fingers, and the beautiful feather-like Caulerpa trifaria. Common crabs beneath the seagrasses include the Red Swimmer Crab Nectocarcinus integrifrons and the long limbed Decorator Crab Naxia aurita. Many of the seagrasses have large seasnail populations feeding on the encrusting and attached algae. These include snails such as turban shells and the beautiful Pheasant Snail or Painted Lady Phasianella australis which gather algae with its long flexible body.

Feeding on debris are a range of seastars like the multi-coloured Common Seastar Patiriella calcar and the Velvet Seastar Patiriella brevispina and the burrowing Heart Urchins Echinocardium cordatum. In turn, feeding on the scavengers are in turn a range of predators including the 11-armed Seastar Coscinasterias muricata, the black and white seastar Luida australiae, Blue Ringed Octopus Hapalochlaena maculosa and a wide range of fish.
Smaller fish and squid hide within the seagrass leaves or emerge to feed on open sandy areas.

These include:

  • Weed and Rock Whiting 
  • Cobblers
  • Southern Gobbleguts 
  • Gobies 
  • Toadfish 
  • Globefish 
  • Bridled and Pygmy Leatherjackets
  • various Pipefish.

Larger animals include:

  • Stingarees 
  • Southern Fiddler Rays or Banjo Sharks 
  • Rock and Sand Flathead 
  • Greenback Flounder 
  • schools of juvenile Silver Trevally.

Southern Pygmy Squid (Idiosepius notoides), are regular inhabitant of the seagrass beds and the iridescent Southern Dumpling Squid (Euprymna tasmanica) which feeds at night above the seagrass leaves is also common. Larger commercially important species such as King George Whiting adults, Salmon, Garfish and Gummy and School Sharks are not often seen in these areas.

In deeper channels communities include vast numbers of suspension-feeding Brittle Stars (Amphiura elandiformis and Ophiocentrus pilosa) which raise their arms from the sediment in order to capture passing plankton and detritus. 'Mini-reef' systems can also be found around dead shells include communities of sea squirts and attached bryozoans, anemones, sponges, hydroids and some red seaweeds.

Geological, hydrological and landform features

Corner Inlet is a large submerged plain that is bordered to the west and north by geological faults and is sinking slowly as South Gippsland itself rises. The Inlet however receives a large amount of sediment that washes in from surrounding hills. Large mudflats and sandbanks cover much of the Marine National Park. Some of these banks are exposed at low tide while others remain submerged.

On the ebbing tide a system of deep channels carries the water from the banks to the entrance on the eastern side. These channels range in depth from about 1m to 20m. The main entrance channel is approximately 40m deep. Due to the shallow water and large number of banks tidal flow is slow and many areas have tidal peaks occurring up to an hour and a half after peak tides at the entrance.

The area has high scenic values from the low watery landscapes of the marshes and dunes to the spectacular backdrop of the granite peaks of Wilsons Promontory National Park

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