CEN Projects

The habitats of NSWs rocky reefs are defined by the types and numbers of fish, invertebrates and algae found there as well as the attributes of the reef. These patterns are related to exposure to wave action, depth, and the effects of of herbivores and the algae they eat. Species groupings and how they correlate with features of the reef, such as depth and complexity have revealled the following habitats:

Fringe habitat: In the first few metres of water there are a combination of species with no single species dominating the area. Due to frequent natural disturbance it allows a variety of algae and other marine life to grow.

Pyura habitat: The seasquirt Cunjevoi (Pyura stolonifera) can dominate nearly all the space on some small shallow reefs - this also found on the low levels of rock platforms

Phyllospora forests: These are more common south of Wollongong, however there are some local reefs were this brown algae dominates such as some of the reefs between Foresters Beach and The Entrance. Phyllospora comosa also known as crayweed as is provides habitat for lobsters in the south of the state.

Barrens Habitat: This is the dominant habitat along our stretch of coastline, It consists of boulders that have been grazed from large brown algae by Black Sea Urchins. The most abundant algae are the crustose and turfing algae's - often looks like it is pained a light pink colour. This provides important habitat for a different suite of species than kelp forests.

Ecklonia Forests: The common kelp Ecklonia radiata dominates many of our local reefs that have not been extensively grazed by sea urchins. It provides shelter for a large diversity of marine species. Most fish will feed on small animals that live on the kelp and not eat the kelp directly.

Turf Habitat: Often located near the kelp forests are patches of turfing algae, which are small branching algae and supports some small organisms and grazing snails.

Deep reef habitat: In waters generally deeper than 20m a variety of sessile organisms thrive. Large algae does not dominate due to lack of light and these filter feeders such as sponges and ascidians dominate in a variety of shapes and colours.

There are also a variety of artificial structures that create habitats for a variety of species. Much of the sessile marine life are restricted in there occurrence by the lack of space. With the addition of new structures this provides valuable habitat.

Contact details

CALL 02 4349 4756

PO Box 149 Ourimbah NSW 2258

FM Building, Central Coast Campus,
University of Newcastle,
Loop Road, Ourimbah,
NSW, 2258


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