« South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network
||Flinders Commonwealth Marine Reserve
||28 June 2007 (effective 3 September 2007)
|Types of zoning
||VI – Multiple use zone – 1,231 km2
Ia – Sanctuary Zone – 25,812 km2
|Management plan status
|| Interim management arrangements
The Flinders Commonwealth Marine Reserve comprises an area of 27,043 square kilometres. It is named after the adjacent Flinders Island in the Furneaux group of islands to the north-east of Tasmania. The reserve covers a depth range from about 40 metres on the shallow continental shelf to abyssal depths of 3,000 metres or more to the edge of the Exclusive Economic Zone.
The Flinders Commonwealth Marine Reserve spans continental shelf, slope and deeper water ecosystems of the major biological zone that extends around south-eastern Australia to the east of Tasmania. Key features of this area are the continental shelf, and a long portion of steep continental slope escarpment incised by a series of submarine canyons. Sea bottom dwelling habitats include sheer rocky walls and large rocky outcrops that support a rich diversity of small seabed animals such as lace corals and sponges. These and the large expanses of sandy and muddy sediments are habitats to a wide variety of fishes and to populations of the giant crab.
Biodiversity is influenced by summertime incursions of the warm East Australian current and associated large scale anti-clockwise small whirlpools. Another prominent feature is a large off-shore seamount believed to be too deep to have been fished. Seamounts are generally considered to be important centres of deep ocean biodiversity. They offer a wide range of habitats at different depths and orientations to currents. The large seamounts to the east of Tasmania are believed to be individually important, providing habitat to species that may be unique to each seamount and to a range of more widely occurring species that make their homes only on their rocky slopes. Presently little is known about the fauna of these seamounts, but based on information from other better known offshore seamounts, seabed animals are expected to include endemic species (i.e. species belonging exclusively or confined to a particular place).
The shallower part of the Flinders Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes habitat important to the white fronted tern, Australian gannet, black faced cormorant, common diving petrel, fairy prion, little penguin, shy albatross, silver gull, crested tern, short tailed shearwater, and white faced storm petrel. Importantly it includes the habitat of a suite of continental shelf and slope shark species including school shark and – between 400 and 600 metre depths – gulper sharks (Harrison’s dogfish and Southern dogfish) which have been nominated for listing as threatened species. Among the range of fishes, sponges and deep water corals of this reserve, you may also find the giant crab, weighing up to 15 kilograms and one of the largest crabs in the world. Swimming above the sea bed are gulper sharks which, are a potentially threatened species and the subject of current research efforts.