Subtidal Rocky Reefs

Subtidal reef at Barwon Bluff

Victoria’s Rocky Reefs are fascinating habitats that are rich in life. Many marine animals and plants need to attach themselves to something solid for their survival. While we do not have reef building corals in Victoria, many of our rocky reefs are covered in brightly coloured animals and plants.

Reefs are found where rocks occur above or below the waterline. As the rocks are eroded, by the action of water, cracks and holes appear which increase the availability of shelter for living things. Different rock types weather in different ways and often contain different species of inhabitants.

Many different species of invertebrates cover rocky reef walls where sunlight is scarce and algae cannot grow. Where ledges, caves, or arches are carved into the rock, suitable habitat for many of these filter feeding animals is created. Below the low tide mark, rocky reefs can support extensive communities of marine plants which can form kelp forests.

Subtidal rocky reefs are home to a fascinating and diverse range of marine plants and animals. Shallower reefs can support extensive plant communities forming kelp forests whereas deeper communities can be brilliantly coloured due to the huge diversity of sponges and marine invertebrates. Even though Victorian reefs are temperate, bright corals are common in many areas as well as magnificent fish.

The reefs are vital to the survival of many species, including commercially viable species such as abalone and rock lobsters. They also provide an excellent site for divers and snorkellers to experience a huge range of Victoria’s marine life.