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Who am I?
How can you tell it’s me?
I’ve got a distinctive orange column with white stripes surrounded by many small white tentacles that I use to catch my prey.
Where is the best place to find me?
I am one of the most common anemones and you can find me on rocky reef and on jetty pylons throughout the Bay.
Why am I important for Port Phillip Bay?
I am a carnivore who eats larvae of some invasive species, preventing them from settling on artificial structures.
Photographer/social media links – Chris McArdle
Magnificent biscuit star
I’ve got 5 arms that are not as thin and long as most seastars and I’ve got colours that vary between purple, pink and red.
I am one of the most common seastar in the Bay. You’ll find me in rock pools, and on rocky and sandy bottoms around the Bay
I feed on small plants and microbes that I find on the bottom of the ocean and help keep their numbers in check.
Photographer/social media links – Jack Breedon
Verco’s Tambja aka Verco’s nudibranch
As a mollusc, I have a soft yellow body with sky-blue spots. I also have blue gills that you can sometimes see on my back and blue sensory organs on my head.
I am one of the most common nudibranch aka sea slug that can be found in Port Phillip Bay. I feed on a bryozoan, a small animal that forms little blue-green tufts and you’ll find in any reef my food is found.
As a lot of my nudibranch friends, I am very picky in what I eat and my presence is a good indication that the environment is healthy. By identifying the areas I don’t like anymore, scientists can find out where the environment might be changing
How can you help understand me better?
Do you have an underwater camera? Why not take part in the Victorian National Parks Association’s Sea Slug Census. A few times a year, divers, snorkelers and beach goers exploring rock pools take on the challenge to spot and report as many of my sea slug friends as possible and send the photos with information about the observations (locations, depths, etc) to help scientists understand where sea slugs are found and how their environment changes.
Photographer/social media links – Gareth Dixon
Australian fur seal
I’ve got large eyes, a pointed face with long whiskers, little ears. My fur is brown.
Whilst I’ve been reported in different parts of the Bay, your best bet if you want to see me in and out of the water is to go to Chinaman’s Hat, a man-made structure near the South Channel of Port Phillip. I love resting and basking in the sun there even though the platform gets pretty crowded!
As a top predator, I am an important part of a healthy ecosystem. I keep the populations of my preys in check like fishes, squids and octopus. I remove vulnerable prey that are old, sick, or injured, leaving more food for heathier ones to live and reproduce.
How can you help protect me better?
If you find a seal (or any other marine mammal) that is injured or entangled anywhere in Victoria, call the Marine Response Unit to report it so it can be rescued.
Photographer/social media links – Matt Krumins
Weedy sea dragon
I’ve got a long body with leafy growths and beautiful iridescent coloured spots and stripes. I’ve got a long snout and I am tricky to spot amongst seaweeds, hence my name. If you are lucky to see me during the breeding season, you’ll notice some bright pink eggs under my tail if I am a male
There are a few piers around the Bay where you can dive and snorkel to see me like Portsea, Flinders; Mushroom Reef is also a good spot to see me
With my bright colours and long body, I am one of the most popular fish of Port Phillip Bay. People come from far and wide to see me underwater and love the challenge of spotting me amongst seaweeds.
Why not join Dragon Quest? If you have an underwater camera, send your photos of me along with information on location, date and depth to the Victorian National Park Association. The spots on my body are unique and thanks to profile photos, scientists can identify me and my friends, which help knowing how much of us there are in different areas.
Photographer and links – PT Hirschfield
Giant spider crab
I’m the biggest crustacean in Port Phillip Bay; I’m mostly orange with long legs and a hard, rough carapace. Algae and sponges on my back sometimes help me blend into my environment
I live a rather solitary life in the deeper parts of Port Phillip Bay but I aggregate in shallow waters in different parts of the Bay (e.g. St Leonards, Blairgowrie, Rye) at certain times of year. If you have a thick enough suit to brave the cold waters of Port Phillip Bay at the end of Autumn, you can find me at Rye or Blairgowrie, with thousands of my friends. We seek safety in numbers as we need to get rid of our carapace to grow.
The spider crab aggregations provide a lot of food for other marine creatures. Big rays, Port Jackson sharks and more love a soft, freshly moulted crabs, but smaller critters such as shrimps and sea stars also feast on bits of flesh attached to the old carapaces and on the crabs that are not luck enough to make it through the adventure
You can report your sightings (including date, time, number of crabs, location and depth) on the “Spider Crabs Melbourne” Facebook page and help track the crabs’ movements.