Dec
20
2013

Tasmania’s unique marine life

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Tasmania is not only full of magnificent wildlife and plantlife above-ground, but also in its surrounding ocean.

When you stand on Tasmania's many white sands, toes wiggling in the shallows, there is a whole world waiting beneath you to discover.

Here is a bit of information about what kind of creatures can be found under the surface of Tasmania's water – you might be surprised!

In Tasmania's oceans

Tasmania is extremely lucky to have well-looked after, pristine marine areas. In these waters there are many magnificent creatures and plants.

One of the most momentous marine animals you might find in Tasmanian waters is the Southern Right or Humpback whale. These creatures used to be extremely common in the area until they were hunted and the population withered. These whales are now rare and endangered, but thankfully as they are now protected, populations have started to increase again.

Your best chance of spotting these majestic animals is during June and July when they travel along the east coast on migration.

You might also spot bottle-nosed dolphins while travelling through Tasmanian waters on the look out for whales, although they can be seen at any time of year. Take your time observing these rather friendly fellows, too!

Australian fur seals are another type of marine creature you might come across in more untouched areas. They are usually found on rocky islands and reefs, in particular on the north-west coast and off Bruny Island where they can be seen year round. Although easy to find fur seals, however, are another extremely rare animal, having also been hunted to near-extinction when Tasmania was colonised. If you spot one of these beautiful creatures, you'll see how truly big some of them get and you'll also delight in their playful antics. They seem natural performers.

If you are an experienced diver and head underwater in Tas, you're likely to come across seahorses, sea dragons, pipefish and pipehorses, a bunch of extremely intriguing creatures. What is often cited as one of the most interesting facts about this 'family' of creatures is the males are the ones that become pregnant! The female transfers the eggs to the male, where they are fertilised and later born.

Look for these creatures in sheltered areas and near kelp beds. Try Waubs Bay in Bicheno and Waterfall Bay on the Tasman Peninsula.

Speaking of kelp beds, these are another fascinating feature of underwater Tasmania. These gently swaying masses of green provide a great home for many marine species, similar to the way trees  in a forest function. You're best bet at finding these lies off the south coast of the island.

While you're down there, you might spot handfish and cuttlefish. Handfish are unique as they look like they have 'hands,' which are actually fins they use to walk on the seafloor. Cuttlefish, on the other hand, are clever camouflage artists who can adapt their colour and pattern to avoid prey. They can grow to around 23 inches and cut a fine figure in the ocean.

You can even spot adorable penguins near the River Derwent, on the Bruny Island Neck and along the Bass Strait Coast – so make sure you keep your eyes peeled if you're in the area.

There are a huge amount of other marine species you might come across on your adventures in Tasmania, so make the most of the amazing opportunity.

Remember if you want to go diving, seek out a professional Tasmanian diving tour provider, as conditions in these waters can be very different to what you are used to elsewhere!

Bruny Island seals. Image credit: Bruny Island Blogspot

Fascinating seahorses - Image Credit: Seahorse World Beauty Point

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