Parks Victoria: Newly Discovered Reef

With its multitudes of marine animal and plant life, the Great Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and indisputably one of the wonders of the world. But now it may have a rival — in the south of Australia. According to officials from Parks Victoria, Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park near Melbourne can match the Great Barrier Reef for its abundance of coral, sponge and fish.

There are important differences, however, since the reefs in Victoria are in deeper water than the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, making it a better destination for scuba divers while being less accessible for snorkelers.

Scientists from the parks service used a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and cameras to get close to the underwater world of Wilsons Promontory for the first time.

They weren’t disappointed. “The resulting footage shows that the deep reef habitats are teeming with life and are home to rich and abundant marine ecosystems that are comparable to Australia’s better-known tropical reef areas,” Parks Victoria Marine Science Manager, Steffan Howe, said in a statement. “The extent and abundance of spectacular sponge gardens and corals is a particularly exciting find.”

Coral fans and dunes around 30 metres high were just some of the discoveries found by the ROV. Fish considered rare to Victoria, like the Australian barracuda and Longsnout Boarfish, were also located, along with “large sea whips and colourful sponge gardens beyond scientists expectations.”