Marine Park Monitoring Expedition 2015

This March, the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) Marine Parks Team undertook a two week monitoring expedition in several of our remote offshore island marine park sanctuary zones.

The team used two boats, DEWNR’s T.K. Arnott and the MRV Ngerin, to capture important baseline and ongoing monitoring information at three iconic sanctuary zones. These sanctuary zones are some of the ‘jewels in the crown’ of South Australia’s marine parks network and were set aside for conservation. This expedition provided important ecological information on seafloor habitats, as well as fish abundance, diversity and size.

Sanctuary zones

Isle of St Francis Sanctuary Zone in the Nuyts Archipelago Marine Park is located in the remote waters off the far west coast in an area known as the Nuyts Archipelago. The sanctuary zone has retained many of its significant natural values and is an important refuge for Australian sea lions and sharks, such as white and gummy sharks, as well as the abundant and diverse reef fish such as western blue groper, harlequin fish and southern Maori wrasse.

In fact, the marine plants and animals in this area are similar to those in Western Australia, having travelled to SA on the Leeuwin Current.

Pearson Isles Sanctuary Zone in the Investigator Marine Park is an iconic group of islands off the west coast of Eyre Peninsula and has outstanding conservation significance. The spectacular Pearson Island rises sharply to 200m above sea level. The waters have an abundance of large fish, such as white and gummy sharks, and invertebrates such as soft corals and sponges, whilst the islands provide habitat for migratory birds and SA’s largest breeding colony of little penguins. In addition to being a home to Australian sea lions and weedy seadragons.

Cape du Couedic Sanctuary Zone in the Western Kangaroo Island Marine Park is adjacent to the internationally renowned Admiral’s Arch on Kangaroo Island. Highly productive near shore waters support seabirds, whales, abalone, rock lobster and predatory fish. The islands in this sanctuary zone are the only place in South Australia where 3 seal species breed in close proximity: Australian sea lion, long nosed fur seal and the Australian fur seal.