Explore Underwater Victoria

From the comfort of home or even your holiday abode, you can now dive in and explore what lies beneath the waves along the Great Ocean Road without getting wet.

Victorian National Parks Association’s new interactive website, Explore Underwater Victoria, features an amazing collection of underwater photographs and videos, up to date educational resources and group contacts.

As you weave your way along the Great Ocean Road, starting off at Torquay to Apollo Bay, the website showcases the marine national parks and sanctuaries in the area, including the deep water sponge gardens off Point Addis.

Sea Star (Photographer Bill Boyle)
Sea Star (Photographer Bill Boyle)

As you journey further along this spectacular landscape, the underwater arches off Port Campbell are on display as well as the hidden wonders of the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.

Sea Sweep (Photographer Phillip Doak)
Sea Sweep (Photographer Phillip Doak)

Next up as the end of the Great Ocean Road approaches near Warrnambool images of the majestic Southern Right Whale with calf, Australian Fur Seals and the ledge dwelling Port Jackson Sharks are on display.

Port Jackson Shark ( Photographer Mark Norman)
Port Jackson Shark (Photographer Mark Norman)

The Explore Underwater Victoria website is an initiative of the Victorian National Parks Association with support from Museum Victoria.  The goal with this new website is to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation of Victoria’s natural marine environment as well as associated local coastal and marine activities and how to get involved.

For further information on the Victorian National Parks Association and their marine and coastal campaign visit:

www.vnpa.org.au and to discover more of the hidden wonders of Victoria’s underwater world go to www.exploreunderwater.vnpa.org.au

Or contact: Simon Branigan, Marine & Coastal Project Officer, Victorian National Parks Association, Level 3, 60 Leicester St, Carlton 3053. E-mail: simonb@vnpa.org.au: 03 9341-6508.

Story contributed by the Victorian National Parks Association.

The Surf Coast’s Hidden Wonderland

Most of us are familiar with the local birds who frequent our gardens and we can probably put a name to those visitor’s who fly in during summer and leave before winter begins.  Well the story is the same in the sea.

Living amongst the soft sponge gardens, seagrass meadows or swaying algal forests is a marine wonderland of colourful reef fish, spiky urchins, seastars, crabs and shellfish.  Many are resident all year, feeding and breeding within the habitat in which they live.

The cool ocean waters of Southern Australia are home to an estimated 12,000 species; over 85% are endemic and as such are not found anywhere else in the world.

Reef Watch volunteers have been recording the species they see at their favourite reefs for nearly 10 years, bringing to the surface data on the types and numbers of species found at reef sites along the Victorian coast and in our bays.  Reef Watch Victoria is a project of the Victorian National Parks Association, funded by the Australian Government through Caring for Our Country and Supported by Museum Victoria.

Along the Surf Coast, groups such as the Friends of Point Addis National Park are involved in the programme and have been surveying the parks abundant fish life during the Great Victorian Fish Count, held in December each year.  They have discovered Blue-Throated and Senator Wrasse, Sea Sweep, Banded and Magpie Morwongs, Southern Hulafish, Leatherjackets, Toadfish and Stingrays.  The diversity of fish species paints a picture of a healthy reef providing for the different requirements of the fish.

Leather jacket
Leather jacket

For the past three years, Grade five and six students from Lorne-Aireys P-12, have also been involved in the Great Victorian Fish Count and have had fun surveying the fish under the Lorne Pier.  They have been surprised to find there is quite a variety of fish living under the pier, including stripy Zebra fish, Old Wives and Six-spined Leatherjackets.

6 spine

At the Ingoldsby Reef near Anglesea, divers are able to see an abundance of marine life.  It is one of the longest shallow offshore reefs in Victorian waters and is home to over a hundred species of algae, as well as colourful ascidians, fanlike gorgonian corals and feathery hydroids.

Ocean visitors to the Surf Coast can occasionally be seen breaching the surface, including Humpback and Southern Right Whales, Bottlenose Dolphins and giant pelagic sunfish.  Below the surface, Mulloway, Australian Salmon, Wobbegongs and School sharks move through the reefs on their way to breed in the bays and inlets or to follow the migratory path of their prey as they move with the seasons of the sea.

Reef Watch volunteers also monitor the marine life at their favourite reefs during the year, providing a seasonal snapshot of the species found.  Species lists for each monitored site have been produced, providing a record of the marine biodiversity and complexity of reefs found along the coast.

For further information on Reef Watch Victoria visit

www.reefwatchvic.asn.au or to find out more about the Surf Coasts marine life and community groups, visit http://www.exploreunderwatervictoria.org.au/gallery-8/.

Or contact: Wendy Roberts, Coordinator, Reef Watch Victoria, C/- Museum Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne, 3001. E-mail: info@reefwatchvic.asn.au Tel: 03 8341-7446

Interesting things that have washed up on the beach

As our Coastal Reserves Manager often reminds us, “the tide comes in and the tide goes out”. Such continual motion brings many things with it, which often wash back out with the tide but occasionally stay. Here’s some of the more interesting things that have washed up on our beaches in recent times (along with one not so recent).

  • Leatherback Turtle – A big beauty of the sea washed up on the beach near Lorne in 2007.
  • Penguins – Unfortunately it’s rare to see live ones these days and more common to find a few dead ones, especially after big storms. In 2009, unusually high numbers of the latter led to concerns that their food supplies had taken a serious hit.
  • Seals – usually alive and stopping for a rest. Occasionally a pup mightn’t make it.
  • Kangaroos – In 2008, one was rumoured to have hopped onto the beach, into the water and the path of a hungry shark. Believe it or not!
  • Shearwaters – This migratory bird species travels thousands of kilometres to the Surf Coast each spring. Unfortunately, some don’t make it.
  • Mako Shark – A dead youngster washed up at Fishermans Beach in 2009.
  • Blue Whale – Found off Cathedral Rocks in the 1990s.
  • Dead body – Courtesy of the Pong Su drama off Lorne in 2003.
  • The Joseph Scammell shipwreck off Torquay in 1891 – The valuable wreckage sparked off the largest wave of illegal looting, pilfering and smuggling in the Geelong area’s history with up to 2,000 people visiting the wreck site in one day.

Have you found something interesting or a bit out of the ordinary on one of our beaches? Share it with us – and others – by posting a comment. You can also visit our website for information about what to do if you find a dead or injured animal on the beach.

Posted by David Clarke, CEO.