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East - Ninety Mile Beach Marine National Park
Covering 2,750 hectares and five kilometres of coastline, this park is located 30 kilometres south of Sale adjacent to the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park. The calcarenite reefs here are dominated by invertebrates including sponges, ascidians, bryozoans, hydroids and soft coral. The unusual soft coral (Pseudogorgia godeffroyi) is only found in Victoria between McGuarans and Delray beaches. The Ninety-Mile Beach area has been found to have the highest species diversity anywhere on the planet. In ten square metres 860 species were discovered living in the sand and in one square metre a staggering 187 species.
Victoria's Ninety Mile Beach lies on the edge of a long slender sand dune, thrown up from the sea by the easterly waves and protecting the Gippsland Lakes. Offshore, beneath the water, vast plains of sand stretch in every direction. Yet these areas are not as monotonous as they might first appear as there are local variations. Sand particles are sorted into different groups and layers according to the waves and currents, while there are different surface features, such as mounds and ripples, as a result of animal and wave action.
The fine sands of East Gippsland appear to harbour more animals per square metre than most other marine habitats in the world. This great diversity is derived from the myriad of small creatures that call this area home. Creatures that burrow into the sand build tiny tubes or scurry around eating the scraps of food that may drift by. Larger animals are far fewer in number. To conserve their energy and retain access to oxygenated water, animals like crabs, octopuses, brittle stars and shrimp do not burrow very deep.
Ninety Mile Beach Marine National Park is located 30 kilometres south of Sale, adjacent to the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park.
Parks Victoria Information Centre