Beneath the surface life is attached to or on the move between a number of habitats, including reefs, soft sediments, seagrass meadows and sponge gardens. Each of the environments harbours a distinctive community of animals and plants adapted to local conditions.


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View Reefs habitat page

Coastal shores

View Coastal shores habitat page

Soft substrates

View Soft substrates habitat page

Sponge gardens

View Sponge gardens habitat page

Seagrass meadows

View Seagrass meadows habitat page

Open water

View Open water habitat page

Introduction to habitats in Port Phillip

Port Phillip Bay’s unique form creates a wide range of underwater habitats, homes to a rich diversity of marine plants and animals. Some of the bay’s rich marine life is visible from above water, in the form of seabirds seals and dolphins. However, few Victorians realise how spectacular the bay is underwater.

The rich marine life in Port Phillip Bay has attracted many marine biologists. Over the past two centuries hundreds of new species of animals and plants have been described from this one region. Creatures new to science are still being discovered today.

Dr. Mark Norman has been diving in this bay for 25 years, studying its fishes, octopuses and other marine animals.

"I think the most amazing thing about Port Phillip Bay is this huge array of marine life and habitat types in just one small area. It’s got everything. It’s got seagrass meadows, kelp forests, sponge gardens, sand plains and shear rock walls covered in anemones and corals. Elsewhere you’d have to travel hundreds of kilometres to find that sort of diversity."