Great Southern Reef

We fish we care

Great Southern Reef

The system of interconnected temperature rocky reefs on Australia’s southern coast is a biodiversity hot spot. Spanning more than 8,000 km and covering an area of 71,000 square kilometers marine scientists say it is the temperate equivalent of the Great Barrier Reef (ABC News, 2020).

The weedy sea dragon; Victoria’s marine emblem can be found floating amongst seagrass and algae; it’s small leaflike appendages fluttering as it shows off it’s yellow and purple markings. In some areas, kelp forests tower to heights of 30m, swaying with the ocean currents casting a turquoise-green glow on the rocky reefs below whilst sheltering silvery schools of fish. Australian fur seals can be seen darting between the towering fronds of kelp circling each other in play; twisting, turning, and somersaulting through the cool, salty water.

Biologically the Southern Reef System is unique compared to any other in the Southern Hemisphere with 30-80% of its species found nowhere else in the world and attracts thousands of tourists and locals for superb recreational fishing, scuba diving, surfing and snorkelling. This underwater hot spot is dominated by the common kelp, ecklonia radiatia which is an endemic species, meaning it is found nowhere else in the world and supports diverse ecological communities of fish, rock lobster and abalone.

Dr Sylvia Earle, the Founder of Mission Blue reminds us of the ancient history that the reef holds to Australia specifically the Southern coast which has recently been nominated as a “hope spot” by students from Western Australian University to spread awareness of the ecosystem and its uniqueness also highlighting the importance of the wildlife living there.
To further boost the profile of the Southern Reef a children’s book is currently being written to bridge the gap between our understanding and appreciation of southern coastal environments, based in Warrnambool the book intends to spark interest and enthusiasm for these ecosystems through pictures and relatable summer time experiences at the beach.

You can help support the protection of our Great Southern Reef by taking part in local beach clean-ups, reducing single-use plastic usage or volunteering with your local Coastcare/Landcare group to promote a prosperous and pristine future for these wonderful environments!
To check out the film click here

Feature image from