Jawbone Marine Sanctuary
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Jawbone Marine Sanctuary, named after its shape, is located in Williamstown and protects 30ha of coastal waters. The little promontory, west of the beach at Williamstown, has been fenced off from the rest of the world for over 80 years by a coastal rifle range. This forgotten and unspoilt place is now considered a haven for coastal and marine life right next to Melbourne.
Patches of all marine habitats from northern Port Phillip Bay are packed into this small area. On the west of the promontory, there is saltmarsh and the largest occurrence of mangroves within Port Phillip Bay. They also happen to be the only mangroves in Victoria which grow on a basalt coast. Offshore there are areas of fine clayey sand and patches of seagrass. The eastern side has a complete set of rocky environments. There are areas high up on the shore that only occasionally get wet from storm waves and submerged boulders and ledges that lie below the lowest tides. The soft basalt rock has weathered into smaller rocks and pools that support a full range of tidal life. In between the clay and rock lie some small sandy beaches.
The diverse habitats support a smorgasbord of marine life. Large Turban Shells, limpets and snails appear in abundance. The rock pools boast pretty gardens of green or pink coralline algae as well as numerous seastars, urchins and crabs within the crevices. Glass Shrimp and small fish can be found darting amongst the seaweed in shallow waters. At high tide water flows over the mangrove roots and allows fish and other animals to move in and feed among the mangroves. Submerged boulders support brightly coloured sponges, nudibranchs and many fish. The area is commonly frequented by birdwatchers because many local and migratory bird species can be found within the sanctuary.
This park is a short drive from Melbourne (about 20mins) and is easy to access via the shore or boat (launching point in Williamstown).
Aboriginal Traditional Owners
Parks Victoria acknowledges the Aboriginal Traditional Owners of Victoria - including its parks and reserves. Through their cultural traditions, Aboriginal people maintain their connection to their ancestral lands and waters.
Indigenous tradition indicates that this sanctuary is part of the Country of the Boonwurrung people.
Further information is available from Aboriginal Affairs Victoria AAV and Native Title Services Victoria