Climate, ocean currents, and Tasmania’s southerly location combine to create one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world – all of which are protected by Tasmanian marine parks.
Why are Tasmania’s Marine Parks important?
Tasmania has one of the most biologically diverse marine environments in the world, with over 80% of all marine plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth, such as endangered spotted handfish, red handfish, live bearing seastar, Maugean skate, Kelp forests, seagrass beds and sponge gardens – together with fish and invertebrates, including a range of special creatures like the weedy sea dragons, fairy penguins, great white sharks and migrating whales.
Tasmania’s ocean flora is second to none. This island state is renowned for its its giant kelp forests, seagrass meadows, and sponge gardens. Parts of Tasmania’s waters also boast the highest known marine plant diversity anywhere in the world.
Animal wildlife is also spectacular such as seadragons camouflaged in the kelp, little penguins, fur seals and great white sharks. Mighty migratory whales, such as southern right whales, humpbacks and orcas are common in Tasmania’s waters.
Key areas of the Tasmanian marine estate
Tasmania has seven marine reserves, and a collection of marine conservation areas dotted around (mostly) the eastern coast. Each covers portions of the diverse array of habitats on the Tasmanian coast. However, only 1.1% of Tasmania’s immediate coastal waters are fully protected by high-level protection sanctuary zones.
Kent Group Marine Reserve
The Kent Group Marine Reserve is the meeting point of the East Australian Current and the westerly influence of Bass Strait, and features more fish species than any other region in Tasmania. The Kent Group is the southern strong-hold for several species including the violet roughy, mosaic leatherjacket, Wilsons weedfish, Maori wrasse and one spot puller. It is also the most southerly location to see the eastern shovelnose ray and the snakeskin wrasse.
Maria Island Marine Reserve
Maria Island Marine Reserve is a great example of what strong marine protection can achieve. Adjacent to the Maria Island National Park, this reserve protects a representative range of marine habitats found on the east coast. Half of this area is fully protected and the rest allows recreational fishing. These fully protected areas are critical to restoring species diversity and abundance in the marine environment, particularly for heavily-fished species. This can help control invasive species (such as urchins) and restore natural balance and resilience to an ecosystem.
Macquarie Island Marine Reserve
Macquarie Island Marine Reserve is the largest fully protected marine reserve in Tasmania, protecting the entire Macquarie Bioregion. This spectacular reserve includes highly unique sub-Antarctic processes, geological characteristics, and numerous globally threatened albatross, penguin and seal populations. Coupled with the island’s World Heritage Area status, Macquarie Island is an excellent focus for climate and ocean research.