You are here

Home > Park management > Environment > Ecosystems > Marine > Sponge Gardens

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

Plains-wanderer Click to view the news RSS feed.

Funding for the critically endangered Plains-wanderer

08 Jun 2017

Ensuring suitable habitat for the critically endangered Plains-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus) is the focus of a $300,000 funding boost from the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity On-Ground Action initiative.Bruce Wehner, Parks Victoria Regional Area of Work Coordinator,said Plains-wanderers are a grassland bird species with very specific habitat requirements, which must be managed using…

View all latest news

What's on

Click to view RSS Feed

Australian Birdlife In Danger

5 Jun 2017 10:00am - 3 Jul 2017 3:00pm

An exhibition of beautiful bird photos taken by Dr. Rohan Clarke will be presented in the upstairs rooms of Coolart Homestead during June. The photos are from Dr. Geoffrey Maslen's 'An Uncertain Future - Australian BirdLife In Danger.

Click to view RSS Feed

Koala Conservation Day for Locals

2 Jul 2017 9:00am-3:00pm

Enjoy a day in the outdoors, connecting with nature and helping koalas in the You Yangs Regional Park and the Western Plains near Melbourne. You will search for koalas, take walks through bushland with naturalists and remove weeds and plant trees for koala habitat, in the company of a highly…

Click to view RSS Feed

Wilsons Promontory Winter Discovery Program

3 Jul 2017 9:00am - 14 Jul 2017 4:00pm

Parks Victoria’s Discovery program encourages children and adults to explore Victoria’s parks with a ranger. Programs run every school holidays across the state and include a range of fun and interactive activities. Highlights of the Winter Discovery Program at the Prom include opportunities to: * Visit the Prom’s Nursery and…

Click to view RSS Feed

Federal Cave Tour

3 Jul 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm

This historical tour provides a unique opportunity to view a cave that is rarely open to the public and is part of the same cave system as the Royal and the Fairy show caves. Lit only by solar-powered pathway lights, you are provided with a helmet and headlight to view…