Beagle Commonwealth Marine Reserve

The Beagle Commonwealth Marine Reserve represents an area of shallow continental shelf ecosystems in depths of about 50-70 m that extends around south-eastern Australia to the east of Tasmania. The sea floor that it covers formed a land bridge between Tasmania and Victoria during the last ice age 10 000 years ago.

Its boundary encloses Tasmania's Kent Group Marine Reserve and the Hogan and Curtis Island groups. Nearby to the north-east is Victoria's Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park.

The reserve encompasses the fauna of central Bass Strait, which is expected to be especially rich based on studies of several sea floor-dwelling animal groups. Its ecosystems are similar to those documented for the deeper sections of the Kent Group Marine Reserve, especially those based around habitats of rocky reefs supporting beds of encrusting, erect and branching sponges, and sediment composed of shell grit with patches of large sponges and sparse sponge habitats.

Islands encompassed by the reserve and nearby islands support important breeding colonies for many seabirds and for the Australian fur seal. The waters of the reserve provide an important foraging area for those species breeding nearby. The rich marine life also attracts top predators, such as the great white shark and killer whales.

The SS Cambridge, a British freighter, which lies in the reserve to the east of Wilson's Promontory, was sunk in 1940 by a WWII mine.

The trading ketch Eliza Davies, which lies in the reserve to the east of Wilson's Promontory, sunk under tow in 1924.

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Beagle area and zoning. View more...

Overview of Beagle Commonwealth Marine Reserve
Area 2928 km2 (292 800 ha)
Types of zoning Multiple Use Zone - IUCN Category VI

Beagle major conservation values. View more...

  • Ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with the Southeast Shelf Transition and associated with the sea-floor features: basin, plateau, shelf and sill
  • Important migration and resting on migration area for: southern right whale
  • Important foraging area for: Australian fur seal, killer whale, white shark, shy albatross, Australasian gannet, short-tailed shearwater, pacific and silver gulls, crested tern, common diving petrel, fairy prion, black-faced cormorant and little penguin
  • Cultural and heritage sites: the wreck of the steamship SS Cambridge and the wreck of the ketch Eliza Davies.

Beagle management arrangements. View more...

All fourteen reserves in the South-east are managed under the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network Management Plan 2013-23. This Management Plan sets out the zoning, allowable activities and rules for use within South-east marine reserves until 2023.

Beagle map. View more...

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Map of the Beagle Commonwealth Marine Reserve - Click to enlarge map

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View the other reserves in the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network