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Sandy plains

Sandy habitats are far from being deserts and have a surprising wealth of life. These areas are home to a range of tiny plants and animals that can live in the spaces between the sand grains while larger animals hide beneath the sand.

Scientific surveys have shown that some Victorian sandy environments have the highest levels of animal diversity in the sea ever recorded. In the area around the Ninety Mile Beach Marine National Park in Gippsland more than 600 different marine animal species, many of them very small, have been found within an area of 10 square metres.

Animals found in Sandy Plains include Smooth Stingray (Dasyatis brevicaudata), Pipi (Plebidonax deltoids), Dumpling Squid (Euprymna tasmanica), Common Stargazer (Kathetostoma leave) and Heart Urchin (Echinocardium cordatum).

Key Threats

  • Fishing or removal of animals and plants
  • Oil and chemical pollution
  • Marine pests which compete for food or space such as the Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias amurensis) or the Japanese Kelp (Undaria pinnatifida)
  • Climate change effects including sea level rise, warming sea surface temperatures, and increasing ocean acidity.

Where to see sandy plains

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