What to expect from Adelaide’s new native shellfish reef

A native shellfish reef is going to be built off Glenelg Beach. Find out why reefs matter and how it’ll be built.

Reefs have an important role to play in the running of ocean ecosystems. They provide homes, food and breeding grounds for marine life to live and grow. More marine life means a healthier ocean.

They also provide great recreational and tourism experiences like snorkelling and diving for people to witness the mysterious underwater world.

In good news for South Australians, our state is set to gain a new native shellfish reef off of Glenelg Beach in Adelaide. The new reef will cover as much area as Adelaide Oval and construction is expected to begin in September this year.

Here’s everything you need to know about shellfish reefs and Adelaide’s new one:

Shellfish reefs

Shellfish reef habitats are incredibly important to marine environments, fish breeding and quality, but they can also provide great recreational opportunities for divers.

These reefs were once common along sheltered nearshore areas of South Australia, however from the late 1800s to mid-1900s they suffered from the combined impacts of overfishing, dredging, water pollution and disease.

Aside from the recently completed Windara Reef off the coast of Ardrossan on the Yorke Peninsula, native oyster reefs are now near absent from SA’s waters.

How it will be built and what will it do?

Glenelg Beach’s 2-hectare shellfish reef will be constructed using a limestone reef base, with hatchery-raised Australian flat oysters, to create a flourishing marine environment.

Shellfish reefs, just like coral reefs, provide homes for many marine species thereby boosting fish stocks, while also helping to clean seawater through the natural process of filter feeding.

Oysters are excellent water filterers, with each one filtering 100 litres of water a day. This helps improve local water conditions, which supports the return of other ecosystems like seagrass.

Why Glenelg?

The public had an opportunity to have their say on potential locations for a metro reef last year and the consultation showed South Australians were very much in support of the restoration of our shellfish reefs.

In the end Glenelg was chosen as it offers suitable environmental conditions, including low wave energy and closer proximity to known historic native shellfish beds

And with such good public transport and beach access to the area, it’ll make it easy for locals and tourists alike to visit the new reef and learn more about our native marine life.

Has all this talk of reefs got you itching to get underwater? Check out these great spots for snorkelling.

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