Ecosystems of the Coastal Environment

Kingborough’s extensive coastline ranges from sandy shore, rocky shore, coastal cliffs, estuaries and coastal lagoons to saltmarsh. The ecosystem of each of these coastline types, supports a different community of plants and animals.

Kingston Beach is a sandy shore where unseen to us Pipis (or Wedge shells) feed on phytoplankton and Pied oystercatchers feed on Pipis. Lift up seaweed to witness the scattering of Sandhoppers feeding on decaying organic matter, nutrients of which in turn goes back out into the sea to feed the phytoplankton. Tiny plants that drift near the surface of the sea, phytoplankton, is the most numerous plant life on earth.

Sandy Shore Cloudy Bay Beach

Sandy shore; Cloudy Bay Beach

Rock pools occur on rocky platforms at the base of cliffs such as between Kingston Beach and Tinderbox. Rocky shorelines are abundant including Tinderbox Marine Reserve, Snug Point and the Labillardiere Peninsula. Our rocky coasts contain diverse plant and animals that are revealed as the tide goes out; Waratah anemones, Chitons, Sea squirts (yes they squirt!) and the cleverly camouflaged Decorator crabs live amongst Sea lettuce, Mermaid’s necklace and other seaweeds. But take care! Remember to watch out for those occasional large waves and rising tides. Take a walk to Fossil Cove at Tinderbox at low tide to discover for yourself.  

Coastal cliffs are best viewed on calm days safely from your dingy or sea kayak between Taroona and Tinderbox, Coningham eastern side of Tinderbox Hills and scattered all along the east coast of Bruny Island. These cliffs are high energy coasts, subject to massive wave action that cuts away rock, creating sea caves and blowholes such as on the Blowhole Track at the north end of BlackmansBayBeach. Watch out for the thick leathery fronds of bull kelp, they tell you that big waves crash against this shore.

Coastal Cliffs Cooleys Gully South Bruny

Coastal Cliffs, Cooleys Gully, South Bruny

Estuaries occur where the fresh water of creeks and rivers meet salt water of the sea, such as North West Bay Estuary.  Where an estuary is enclosed by a beach you get a coastal lagoon, like Cloudy Bay Lagoon. These areas support a high diversity of plants and animals including sedgeland, succulent saltmarsh, shorebirds, waterbirds and waders and breeding ground for fish species.

(Source: Gould League of Victoria, 1988, Coastal Wildlife, Gould League of Victoria, Prahran, Victoria.)


© 2011 Kingborough Council
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