Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary
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- Established:November 2002
Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary is located in the north east corner of Port Phillip Bay, a mere 30 minute drive from Melbourne. The park protects 290ha of a typical Port Phillip western shoreline which makes it the largest park in Victoria’s system of marine national parks and sanctuaries. The park is largely protected from the hype of the suburbs by the coastal dunes and adjacent wetlands of the Point Cook Coastal Park and Cheetham Wetlands. Off the coast a series of basalt cliffs rise from the muddy seafloor, the remains of a larval flow that poured across the plains thousands of years ago.
A combination of narrow sandy beaches, rocky reefs and mud flats, this park hosts a huge diversity of marine and coastal life. The predominant alga on the reef is a thick brown alga, Ecklonia radiata. Within its fronds it houses countless tiny marine animals and plants. Prickly sea urchins are abundant near crevices, while the exposed sections of rock support a range of life including masses of tube worms, carpets of anemones and meadows of tufting coralline and filamentous algae. In darker corners, sponges grow plentifully. Small skates and sharks patrol the surrounding seagrass beds, feasting on bivalves lying in the sediments. These seagrass beds also act as a nursery for a variety of fish species. Pods of bottlenose dolphins visit the sanctuary and in summer, swarms of jellyfish pulsate over the reef.
Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary and the surrounding Point Cook Coastal Park and Cheetham Wetlands are protected as a Ramsar site. This means that the area has international significance due to its importance for migratory wader birds. The sanctuary provides a feeding are for many bird species including the Double-banded Plover and the Lesser Golden Plover.
This park is a short drive from Melbourne and is easy to access via the shore or boat (launching point in Williamstown or Werribee).
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 the sanctuary is part of Country of Boonwurrung.
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