East Gippsland Commonwealth Marine Reserve
|Area||4137 kmkm2 (413 700 ha)|
|Types of zoning||Multiple Use Zone - IUCN Category VI|
Major conservation values
- Examples of ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with: the Southeast Transition and associated with the sea-floor features: abyssal plain/deep ocean floor, canyon, escarpment and knoll/abyssal hillslope
- Features with high biodiversity and productivity: Bass Cascade; upwelling east of Eden
- Important foraging area for: wandering, black-browed, yellow-nosed and shy albatrosses; great-winged petrel; wedge-tailed shearwater; and cape petrel
- Important migration area for: humpback whale
General description of the reserve
The East Gippsland Commonwealth Marine Reserve contains representative samples of an extensive network of canyons, continental slope and escarpment at depths from 600 m to more than 4000 m.
The geomorphic features of this reserve include rocky-substrate habitat, submarine canyons, escarpments and a knoll, which juts out from the base of the continental slope.
The reserve includes both warm and temperate waters, which create habitat for free-floating aquatic plants or microscopic plants (i.e. phytoplankton) communities. Complex seasonality in oceanographic patterns influences the biodiversity and local productivity.
The East Australian Current brings subtropical water from the north, and around Cape Howe the current forms large eddies, with a central core of warm water. Around the outside of the eddies, cooler, nutrient-rich waters mix with the warm water creating conditions for highly productive phytoplankton growth, which supports a rich abundance of marine life. During winter, upwellings of cold water may occur and bring nutrient-rich waters to the surface, boosting productivity.
Many oceanic seabirds forage in these waters, including albatrosses (e.g. wandering, black-browed, yellow-nosed and shy albatrosses), the great-winged petrel, wedge-tailed shearwater and cape petrel.
Humpback whales pass by during their migrations north and south along the eastern seaboard.
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.
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