The Flora and Fauna Around the Port Phillip Bay Area
How many will you spot on your next walk?
When wandering around the stunning Port Philip Bay area, you’ll find a cornucopia of diverse flora and fauna. Despite the densely populated city of Melbourne being so close, the environment is full of natural wonders.
From coastal mangroves to greenery amongst the sand, Port Phillip Bay is a place to enjoy the beauty of the Australian backyard.
But before we share the treasures of the coast, here’s some history of the land.
The environment of Port Phillip Bay has changed drastically since European settlement began more than two centuries ago. The area was inhabited by the Yalukit Willam Clan of the Boon Wurrung people. Yalukit Willam means ‘people of the river’ or ‘river home’, an accurate description of what the landscape would’ve looked like. It was a vast wetland of creeks, lakes and rivers running out towards the sea.
While today, the swamplands and marshes are gone, you can still find a diverse range of animals and plants to sightsee. Here are just a few Port Phillip Bay locals you might be lucky enough to spot on your next beachside visit.
The Bottlenose Dolphin
While Bottlenose dolphins are found across the world, there are a number of permanent mammalian pods around Port Phillip Bay. There’s also a sub-species of the Bottlenose dolphin native to Victoria. So far only seen in Port Phillip Bay and the Gippsland Lakes, the species is known as the Burrunan dolphin. According to the Marine Mammal Foundation, there are only 120 Burrunan residents in Port Phillip Bay so spotting one is a special sight.
Known as Birrna by the Gunai people of Gippsland, the Coastal Banksia is a native plant that grows along the East Coast of Australia. The beautiful banksia plant is versatile and can be seen in trees and, in more exposed areas like coastal headlands, can be seen amongst the shrubbery. The yellow flowers are an iconic Australian symbol and while not native specifically to Port Phillip Bay, they can be seen all along the stunning coastline.
Image from the Victoria National Parks Association
Weedy Sea Dragons
Victoria’s official marine emblem, the Weedy Sea dragon is a brightly-coloured relative of the seahorse. The cool waters of Southern Australia are the only place in the world that you can spot this majestic creature. With tiny fins on the side of their heads for balance and a long fin on their back to push them through the water, the Weedy Sea Dragons are dainty and delicate as they bob through the kelp beds of the bay. According to the Scuba Doctor, the best places to see the Victorian locals are at Flinders Pier and Portsea Pier.
Another iconic piece of Australian flora is the yellow Coastal Wattle. Found in sand dunes and on coastlines including Port Phillip Bay, this plant is a natural beauty. A variety of the Sallow Wattle, it’s native to Eastern Victoria. Growing in shrubs close to the ground, the golden flowers that bloom from mid-winter until mid-spring are a must-see. Head to the sandy dunes to try and catch a glimpse.