On this day in 1987 Western Australia’s first marine park was created. Marmion Marine Park follows Perth’s coast from Trigg Island north to Burns Rocks.
The elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) which came ashore in Perth last month after his long swim from Antarctic waters, rested on Sorrento Beach within the Park. Sea lions and dolphins are more common visitors to the area and the reefs support abundant marine life, from fish to sponges and gorgonian corals. Snorkelling at Mettams Pool and dive sites accessible by boat allow visitors to see these oceanic wonders. The park includes three sanctuary zones: Boy in a Boat Reef, Little Island and The Lumps. People can visit these no-take areas but fishing isn’t allowed.
I keep to the shallows and the shore. The more southerly beaches and dunes of Marmion Marine Park are where Stirling Natural Environment Coastcare (SNEC) works. I volunteer with this Coastcare group, planting native coastal plants and weeding out the plants that don’t belong (if left to grow they would choke out the native plants). The dunes are home to birds, insects, bobtail lizards and snakes, as well as introduced rats which I’ve scared from their hiding place while weeding.
Coastal areas are very changeable as the sea erodes rocks and wind blows sand. Plants stabilize the dunes and different species grow at different points.
Some grow on rocky areas where salt spray blasts them eg. Frankenia pauciflora and Threlkeldia diffusa
Some grow on the edge of the primary dune eg. Spinifex and Leucophyta brownii
Larger plants grow further back in the swale between dunes or on the secondary dune.
We’ve built roads and other structures on or next to the dunes and when this unstable land is encroached on by wind and sea we try all sorts of things to fortify it. The City of Stirling has trucked in limestone rocks to build up the eroded land at North Beach Jetty and piled sand bags against the dune at Watermans Beach. Many dune areas are fenced off from beach goers so we won’t trample vegetation on our way to the beach.
There are many Coastcare groups which need volunteers to help with dune rehabilitation. Contact your local council to find out which group is in your area. Even one Sunday morning before or after a swim will help our coastline provide shelter for wildlife and a beach for us to enjoy into the future.