Merri Marine Sanctuary
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- Established:November 2002
Merri Marine Sanctuary, located at the mouth of the Merri River in Warrnambool, covers 25ha of coast from the Breakwater to Thunder Point. Merri and Middle islands sit just offshore and are the remains of an ancient sand dune that stretched from Pickering Point thousands of years ago. Between these islands is a deep canyon packed with sea life. Such a diverse range of marine life can be found in the area because of the varying sandy and rocky habitats and cool, nutrient rich, oxygen charged waters.
Within this sanctuary, kelps and colourful sponges create an alluring underwater world. Overhangs and crevices provide excellent hiding spots for marine animals including Giant Cuttlefish, Draughtboard Sharks, Parrotfish, schools of Zebra Fish and Southern Rock Lobsters.
Pickering Point is particularly diverse and colourful and is accessible during low tides. Little Penguins roost and breed on the islands within the Sanctuary and hunt in and beyond the sanctuary for food to feed themselves and their chicks.
Extensive ancient middens visible from the Pickering Point walking track indicate the importance of the waters and reefs as a source of food for Indigenous inhabitants in previous times and the cultural significance of the area today.
This park is very close to Warrnambool and is easy to access via the shore at Stingray Bay or Pickering Point, or boat under the right conditions (launching point at the Breakwater).
Aboriginal Traditional Owners
Parks Victoria acknowledges the Aboriginal Traditional Owners of Victoria - including its parks and reserves. Through their cultural traditions, Aboriginal people maintain their connection to their ancestral lands and waters.
Indigenous tradition indicates that this sanctuary forms part of the sea Country of the Gundidj Mara and Kirrae Whurrong Indigenous people. The flora and fauna traditionally accessed by local Indigenous people is an important value of this sanctuary.
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