Rocky reefs, kelp beds and inter-tidal zone

Tasmania's cold-water reef habitats contain a variety of colourful plants and animals including giant kelp, sponges and corals, fish, seadragons, crayfish and abalone. The rocky reefs of southern Tasmania are considered to be among the most diverse marine habitats in Australia, with hundreds of different species contained within a small area.

A conceptual diagram illustrating some typical plants and animals often found in Derwent estuary rocky reefs is provided here.

The Habitat Atlas indicates that there are about 3.3 square kilometres of rocky/cobble reef remaining in the Derwent estuary predominantly in the lower estuary and along the coastline between Taroona and Tinderbox. There is also about 0.3 square kilometres of kelp forest in this area. There are two marine protected areas in this region: the Crayfish Point Scientific Reserve (just off the Tasmanian Aquaculture & Fisheries labs) and the Tinderbox Marine Reserve.

Community types

Did you know?

  • A recent survey at the Crayfish Point Reserve documented thousands of crayfish living in this small area.
  • An inventory of Derwent estuary rocky reefs was conducted in 2010. See report for more details.

Things to explore

  • Visit the Tinderbox Marine Reserve and underwater snorkel trail to learn more about the plants and animals living in rocky reef communities.
  • Explore tidal pools along rocky foreshores to discover some of the plants and animals found in rocky reef habitats. Download the Foreshore Futures E-Set from the Parks & Wildlife website for more information and activities

Educational resources and excursions


Restoring and promoting the Derwent estuary