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Sponge Gardens

Yellow Zoanthis (photo: Jonathan Stevenson)

Yellow Zoanthis (photo: Jonathan Stevenson)

Photo by: Parks Victoria

Location: Sponge Gardens

Draughtboard Shark (photo: Mark Norman)

Draughtboard Shark (photo: Mark Norman)

Photo by: Parks Victoria

Location: Sponge Gardens

Encrusting Sponge (photo: Mark Norman)

Encrusting Sponge (photo: Mark Norman)

Photo by: Parks Victoria

Location: Sponge Gardens

Sea Tulip (photo: Mark Norman)

Sea Tulip (photo: Mark Norman)

Photo by: Parks Victoria

Location: Sponge Gardens

Butterfly Perch (photo: Julian Finn)

Butterfly Perch (photo: Julian Finn)

Photo by: Parks Victoria

Location: Sponge Gardens

Brightly coloured and composed of a huge range of invertebrate species, sponge gardens are found growing on deep reefs (generally >20m) along the coast of Victoria. These habitats flourish in deeper waters or shaded areas because they do not require much light, unlike algae and seagrass.

The invertebrates which make up the fascinating ecosystem include sponges, hydroids, sea fans, sea whips, sea pens, tube worms, bryozoans and ascidians. These, in turn, provide an important habitat for other animals (e.g. nudibranchs).

The invertebrates which make up sponge gardens are generally filter feeders, which means that they filter small particles out of the water column for food.  Sponge gardens play an essential role in nutrient cycling in the ocean.

Key Threats

  • Fishing or removal of animals and plants
  • Marine pests such as the Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias amurensis) or the Japanese Kelp (Undaria pinnatifida) which compete for food or space
  • Anchor damage
  • Climate change effects including sea level rise, warming sea surface temperatures, and increasing ocean acidity.

Where to see sponge gardens

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Sailors Falls staircase project seeking tenders

21 Sep 2016

Locals and visitors to Hepburn Regional Park and Sailors Falls will be delighted to hear that the next stages of the Sailors Falls staircase replacement are progressing well. District Manager Mark Mellington said, “Parks Victoria has been successful in securing full funding for the Staircase Replacement Project through the Victorian…

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What Was That!

9 Sep 2016 8:00pm - 29 Oct 2016 8:00am

Fun scary play based on the history of the Mansion. Follow the actors throughout the Mansion and the story unfolds as you move from room to room.

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Down to Earth

24 Sep 2016 8:00pm - 17 Dec 2016 8:30pm

Down to Earth is a theatrical production performed at the Werribee Park farm at night. Set in 1862 it combines the history of the farm with interactive comedy and scary elements. Suitable ages 10 and up. Dates available 24 sept, 14, 22 October, 4 November 9 and 17 December.

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Discovery Kids

28 Sep 2016 9:00am-9:45am

A variety of activities, stories and craft for children aged 3-5 years and their families.

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A walk in the park - Lilly Pilly Gully

28 Sep 2016 1:00pm-2:30pm

Join a Ranger on a guided walk to learn about the natural wonders of the Prom. 5km walk, pram friendly, adults and children 5yrs+