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Pope’s Eye is located about 5km north east of Portsea and is an artificial structure protruding above the water surface. It is composed of bluestone boulders laid in a semi-circular ring. Originally intended to become one of the fortresses guarding the entrance to Port Phillip, however it was never completed. Today this structure provides a safe anchorage for pleasure craft. It is about 1.5m deep within the ring and drops off to about 10m around the outside.
The tops of the rocks are covered by extensive beds of brown kelps including both giant kelp and leathery kelp. Beneath the kelp a magnificent and colour marine environment awaits. Arguably just as enthralling as tropical reef, Pope’s Eye supports a huge variety of species including colourful reef fish, octopus, featherstars, cuttlefish, seals and gorgonian corals.
This site is also an important nesting ground for Australasian Gannets. It is, in fact, one of the few man made structure in the world where this species will breed. Popes Eye has also been the only fully protected marine environment within Port Philip for the last twenty years and as a consequence there are large numbers of animals present, particularly fish.
Popes Eye is a favourite location of divers and snorkellers due to the protection it provides from tidal currents. Because of this, many SCUBA clubs use this site for beginners’ first open water dive. It is a fascinating dive and snorkel site for both experienced and novice water goers.