About this Guide

The Southern Australian coastline is one of the most biodiverse marine environments in the world. The "Great Southern Reef" is dominated by marine plants and algae, including Golden Kelp (Ecklonia radiata), and is also known for its large variety of invertebrate animals, world famous for viewing the Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) and Leafy Sea Dragon (Phycodurus eques), but also featuring a variety of sessile life, such as sponges, sea squirts, corals, bryozoans and hydroids. This site features more than 650 identified marine species, hundreds more species that have not been confidently identifed, and over 2500 photographs.

Most of the organisms featured on this site can be encountered on the coast or shallow water (to 10m depth), so you do not have to be a SCUBA diver to see most of these. Mostly, all it takes is curiosity, patience, and attention to detail. Every one of these photographs has been taken in South Australia, most by myself personally, and almost all of these species can be found in Adelaide metropolitan waters.

A note on names: Each authoritative source for species names is different from the others in some way. When placing and naming species, I have adhered to the information available in the Atlas of Living Australia, which utilises the Australian Faunal Directory as its primary authoritative source. Likewise, most common names have been sourced from the ALA.

Helpful Hints

The first thing to say is just get out there and start looking! virtually evey rock, jetty pylon or discarded shell on our coastline is home to one creature or another. If you're beachcombing, wear gloves, but don't be afraid to flip over rocks or seaweed. Just make sure you do it gently, and carefully replace everything afterwards. Don't move too fast. You can spend a few minutes looking under a single rock, and you'll be amazed how many things, large or very small, are moving around on it.

Be aware of the rules for where you are. In some South Australian waters, it is illegal to remove invertebrates, living or dead, from intertidal rocky reefs (less than 2m depth) without a permit, and some species cannot be taken at all (such as the leafy or weedy sea dragons). Other species may be subject to regulations such as catch or size limits, and some areas themselves may have limits on your activity. See the SA Government's Marine Parks web page for more details.

A good rule of thumb is not to remove any organism, living or dead, from the beach or water.

About this version (April 2024)

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