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Wilsons Promontory is not only spectacular above the water but also beneath the waters where an astounding diversity of plants and animals, including some that are found nowhere else in Victoria, can be seen. From large marine mammals to microscopic animals that live in the sand, the Prom is an underwater paradise.
Wilsons Promontory marks the boundary for many animals that prefer the warm waters of eastern Victoria. For example:
- The Leafy Seadragon (Phycodurus eques), the Barber Perch (Caesiperca rasor), and the Red Velvetfish (Gnathanacanthus goetzeei) have their eastern limits of distribution here.
- Warmer species such as the Eastern Blue Groper and the Blue-lined goatfish (Upeneichthys lineatus) have their western distribution limit at the Prom.
- The wiry Seanymph Seagrass (Amphibolis Antarctica) has its eastern distribution limit on the east side of the Promontory.
- Intertidal molluscs such as the limpet Notoacmea maya and grazing snail (Austrocochlea odontis) are common in western and central Victoria but absent east of the Promontory; the beautiful Pheasant Snail (Phasianella australis) has its eastern limit at the Prom.
- A brittle star (Ophiothrix spongicola) is absent west of the Promontory
Marine habitats within the park include:
- Subtidal rocky reefs
- Seagrass beds
- Sandy beaches
- Intertidal rocky shores
- Soft sediment areas
In deeper areas under ledges or in caves are fascinating sponge 'gardens'. These are dominated by huge sponges, sea-fans, bright orange, blue or grey lace coral colonies, coloured sea tulips and beds of long, slender sea whips. With this deeper water, kelp forest fish species give way to schools of pink Barber Perch and then Butterfly Perch. Boarfish forage amongst the deep crevices and giant octopuses venture out of the rocks at night. A variety of rays and sharks occupy the sandy areas.
The offshore islands support several colonies of Australian Fur Seals and many oceanic birds, including little penguins, short tailed shearwaters, fairy prions, silver gulls and Pacific gulls. Kanowna Island is one of the four breeding colonies of Australian for seal in Victoria. Seals have pups in November and December and at this time Great White Sharks frequent waters adjacent to the pupping areas.
Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park is vital to the recovery of White Shark populations, decimated in most of the rest of the country and the world.
25 Nov 2013
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