Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary

Snorkel Melbourne!

Looking for Outdoor Activities close to Melbourne? Look no further!

Bayplay specializes in Marine Education Activities, and offers Snorkel and Kayak Tours our of Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary, a 30-minute drive from the CBD!

Perfect for Day Trips, Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary also offers a very diverse marine ecosystem, allowing students to meet Weedy Sea Dragons, Sea Horses, Banjo Sharks, and plenty more! Being a sheltered spot also makes it suitable for all groups and all abilities, even non-swimmers will enjoy it! Bayplay can also run Science/Biology Field trips along the Ricketts Point Rock Pools, and talk about human impact and environmental issues during a paddle along the coast!

Read on for more information on Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary!

The diversity of habitats at Ricketts Point is what makes this Marine Sanctuary so interesting. The sanctuary includes rocky (sandstone) intertidal and subtidal habitats, sandy beaches and subtidal soft substrates, with offshore reefs displaying a high diversity of flora and fauna. Near the shore, the rocks are covered in green and red algae that shelter a myriad of smaller creatures, including tiny brittlestars, bristle worms and crustaceans. The soft seafloor is covered in patches of green seagrass or bunches of seaweed attached to small rocks.

Further offshore rock bommies are carpeted in green Caulerpa, or tall brown Sargassum seaweed, which hides numerous animals amongst its stiff dissected leaves. The offshore rocks and ledges attract fish too, including schools of Southern Hulafish, and occasional wrasse and Victorian Scalyfin. Cryptic weedfish and shrimp can be found amongst the algae.

The habitats with the Marine Sanctuary have a diverse range of invertebrates particularly molluscs. Grazing on the algae on the rocks themselves are a vast number of seasnails that scrape the algae off using a chain saw like tongue called a radula. Some common grazing molluscs include Top Shells (Austrocochlea constricta), Conniwinks (Bembicium nanum), Blue Periwinkles (Nodilittorina unifasciata), Pheasant Snails (Phasianella australis), limpets, and in deeper waters Black-lipped Abalone (Haliotis rubra) can be found. Found amongst the herbivorous snail are a range of carnivorous molluscs that use their radula for drilling holes in other snail, worms, and sea squirts in order to feed on the tissues within. Some common carnivorous snails include Dog Whelks (Dicathais orbita) and Chequerboard Snails (Cominella lineolata).

Other molluscs found in the Marine Sanctuary include octopus, squid and cuttles. Close observation may reveal the Blue-ringed Octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa) which hide under stones, but remember, do not touch. The normally shy creature will flash tiny rings in electric-blue if disturbed too much. This is a warning to take seriously, as its poisonous bite is very dangerous.

Also seen within the waters of the Marine Sanctuary are the Dumpling Squid ( Euprymna tasmanica) that hide in the sand and on the outer section of reef one may encounter the Giant Cuttle (Sepia apama) that makes their homes in the rock crevices. These animals are all more active at night so a night dive or snorkel with a strong underwater torch may reveal some of these fascinating animals.

Painted Dragonets
A slender, elongated, seafloor dwelling fish some 13 centimetres in length, Painted Dragonets are common residents of the shallow inshore waters of the Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary. Male Painted Dragonets are distinctive for their two beautifully adorned orange, blue and yellow striped sail-like fins. When raised in unison these fins run almost the length of the fish's body. These fins are used to great effect during courtship, when the male raises them in a dazzling display while circling the female. If the female accepts his advances she will swim, or be carried by the male, up to the surface to spawn. If her many thousands of eggs are successfully fertilised by the male, they develop into juvenile Painted Dragonets that will float as tiny plankton for a number of weeks before settling down to life on the seafloor. However, few juveniles survive this experience.

Blue Ringed Octopus

These exquisite small octopuses are found in most rocky reef environments in Victoria, as well as in other parts of Australia. Active at night these animals are reasonably common although rarely seen as they seek out rock crevices and old shells, which they hide in throughout the day. Their ability to change colour allows them to take on the colours of their environment making them even harder to see. When disturbed the animals flash their bright blue warning rings, which is where their name comes from.

While not aggressive unless provoked these small octopus are notorious because of their powerful venom, strong enough to result in a number of human fatalities. Their venom is used mainly for capturing and immobilising food species such as crabs, but also use in their defence. In capturing prey the tentacles pin down the crab and a small bird like beak injects saliva into the crab's body. Their saliva contains venom (tetrodotoxin) which is a powerful muscle poison capable of stopping all voluntary muscles from contracting and thus results in the crab being paralysed. The octopus can then use its tongue or radula to scrape away the flesh into its mouth.

Geological, Hydrological and Landform Features

At the water's edge, the sandstone that makes up much of the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay, and which rises to form cliffs around Beaumaris, has been worn down into a series of platforms and offshore reefs, creating a varied marine environment that is readily accessible to visitors.

The Marine Sanctuary incorporates a range of habitat types including rocky sandstone intertidal and subtidal habitats, sandy beaches and subtidal soft substrates. The action of waves refracting between the rocks has also created several small sandy coves.