living amongst recycled shells laid on the new reef base in Port Phillip Bay
Blue-ringed Octopus living amongst recycled shells laid on the new reef base in Port Phillip Bay © Jarrod Boord, Streamline Media

Food & Water Stories

See Port Phillip Bay Teeming with Life

We're making incredible progress in restoring the lost reefs in Victoria.

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Restore Shellfish Reefs

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Thanks to all our partners and supporters, in 2018 we made a lot of progress at two locations in Port Phillip Bay. In Corio Bay off Geelong and Hobson’s Bay off St Kilda, we laid 550m2 of new reefs using 60 tonnes of limestone rubble and 22 tonnes of recycled shells. That’s the equivalent weight of about 55 cars! These reef bases were then seeded with 7.3 tonnes of native Blue Mussels grown by local mussel farmer, Advance Mussel Supplies.

Once a biodiversity hotspot, the shellfish reefs that once thrived here provided crucial habitat to many marine species. They also cleaned the Bay’s polluted water, reduced shore erosion and helped dissipate wave energy that reduced the impact of storm surges and even slowed the rate of climate change.

Sadly, the reefs were decimated decades ago and might have been lost forever... But today, the reefs are making a comeback and teeming with life.

Watch this video to see what a difference we've made

Shellfish Reef Restoration Update Port Phillip Bay, Victoria 2018

After such a short period of time it’s incredible to see how quickly the shellfish reefs are recovering, turning desolate seascapes into thriving homes for a variety of fish and other species.

Marine Restoration Coordinator

Simon Branigan, TNC’s Marine Restoration Coordinator says, "To date, we have restored an MCG-sized area of shellfish reefs. We’ve seen Pinkie Snapper, whiting, flathead and Eleven-armed Sea Stars flocking to these reefs. Imagine ten more MCG-sized reefs and how this will help create a healthier, cleaner bay with more fish returning to a habitat that once dominated Port Phillip Bay’s seafloor”.

The generosity of our supporters allows us to tackle conservation challenges like this and turn them into conservation wins. The critical and urgent work to save the shellfish reefs of southern Australia is far from done, but it is certainly heartening to see what a difference we’re already making together.