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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 greater than 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

Related links

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Down to Earth

8 Apr 2017 8:00pm - 29 Apr 2017 9:30pm

This theatrical performance taking place at the historic farm in Werribee Park, is filled with history, comedy and scary elements. It is a highly entertaining and informative performance, suitable for ages 11 and above.

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Heritage Festival 2017 at Coolart

26 Apr 2017 10:00am - 16 May 2017 10:00am

Meet at Visitor Centre at 10am and 2pm on Tuesdays for a guided tour and introduction to the history of Coolart Wetlands and Homestead in Somers. Bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy in the beautiful garden.

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The Great Forest Picnic

13 May 2017 11:00am-2:00pm

Come and join in a giant picnic and spell out the word WE *heart* PARKS to show our love for parks and the unique forests of the Central Highlands.

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Melbourne Coastrek

26 May 2017 6:00am-10:00pm

Melbourne Coastrek is an annual 30km - 60km team trekking challenge held along the Mornington Peninsula's stunning coastline raising money for The Fred Hollows Foundation. Hosted by Wild Women On Top, it’s one of the most picturesque endurance events in Australia, including ocean and bay beaches and views, headlands, cliff…