“One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish” this famous quote from a childhood nursery rhyme could easily be used to describe the fascinating underwater world of the Coffs Coast. With over 550 species of fish and 90 different kinds of coral, the Coffs Coast is home to an amazing variety of marine plants and animals.
It’s All About Location
One key element to the Coffs Coast’s diverse marine environment is the unique circumstance of its location – where two great ocean currents meet. The offshore islands are bathed in the warm waters of the East Australian Current, which flows south from the Coral Sea near the equator. The coast and near shore islands, on the other hand, experience cool, nutrient rich waters originating from southern latitudes in the Tasman Sea. The resulting ‘mixing zone’ is a tapestry of colours and shapes where species from the Great Barrier Reef, such as corals and reef fish, co-exist with temperate seaweeds, invertebrates and fish from colder environments.
Millions of years of geological activity have also created a diverse mosaic of ecosystems and habitats. The centrepiece and defining natural feature of the Coffs Coast are the five solitary islands. Other natural features of the area include a range of near pristine estuaries, sandy beaches, intertidal rocky shores, sub-tidal reefs, open ocean and soft sediment habitats. These natural features support the amazing array of marine plants and animals found on the Coffs Coast and form a wonderful backdrop for an environment hidden beneath the water.
There are many ways that families can explore and learn more about the marine animals and plants that inhabit the Coffs Coast.
One great way to gain a better appreciation of the marine creatures that inhabit the Coffs Coast is to explore the numerous rock pools in the area. Notable rock pools are located at Flat Top (near Hearnes Lake), Sandy Beach, Woolgoolga, Mulloway and Arrawarra. From seastars to octopus, rock pools lend themselves to exploration and are teeming with life.
There are, however, a few animals that rock pool explorers need to be aware of including the blue ringed octopus, cone shell snails and the tropical long spined sea urchin. These animals are poisonous and should be avoided. Most of the rock pools in our area are also within the Solitary Islands Marine Park and the collection of plants or animals is prohibited. Also check the tide tables and visit rock pools only when the seas are calm.