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Mapping Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park

Underwater sand dunes and 85-90m deep holes

Underwater sand dunes and 85-90m deep holes

Photo by: Unknown LDAP UserParks Victoria

Location: Mapping Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park

Full seafloor map

Full seafloor map

Photo by: Unknown LDAP UserParks Victoria

Location: Mapping Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park

Significance of Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park

Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park (MNP) is the largest protected area in Victoria’s Marine National Park system and is the only MNP in the Flinders bioregion. The Wilsons Promontory MNP supports a variety of habitats including shallow subtidal reefs, deep subtidal reefs, intertidal rocky shores, sandy beaches, seagrass, subtidal soft substrates and expansive pelagic areas. These habitats support a number of unique and important species and communities. Wilsons Promontory marks the mixing zone of warmer waters of the eastern Australian coast and the colder waters of Bass Strait to the west, which drives the high species richness and diversity observed as part of Parks Victoria’s research and monitoring programs.

Marine Mapping Partnership with Deakin University

Good park management requires a sound understanding of the natural values that occur within the park. Parks Victoria has been involved in several projects to map marine habitats in the Marine National Park System across the state. Until recently only a small proportion (<10%) of the 150km2 area of Wilsons Promontory MNP had been mapped.

Deakin University recently launched its own research vessel Yolla, equipped with the latest generation Kongsberg multibeam sonar.

Yolla - Deakin University's research vessel

In partnership with Parks Victoria, Deakin has provided complete seafloor bathymetry and backscatter information for the park for the very first time.

The data collected so far clearly shows the effects of the strong tidal currents in the area and has revealed in great detail:

  • Uncharted granite reef formations and large areas of what appear to be previously unknown low profile reef;
  • Complex dune systems including a 30 metre high underwater sand dune;
  • Long sand spits up to several km long;
  • Several deep scoured depressions up to 90 metres deep; 
  • Channels which may have been waterways during the last ice age up until about 14,000 years ago when some of this area was part of the land bridge between the mainland and Tasmania;
  • Historic shipwrecks such as the international cargo and passenger vessel Carpentaria, which ran aground in 1885 on what is now called Carpentaria Rocks.

Historic shipwreck, the Carpentaria

The data is now being processed and will be used to prioritise ground-truthing which will be integrated with sonar products for benthic habitat characterisation and species distribution modelling.

For more information

Article in The Age

Centre for Whale Research – Mapping Paradise video

Seal and seabird research at the Prom by Deakin University

Under the Lens partnership with Museum Victoria (including Wilsons Prom)

Marine Natural Values (PDF, 10.9MB) report for Wilsons Prom Marine National Park.

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