« South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network
||Murray Commonwealth Marine Reserve
||28 June 2007 (effective 3 September 2007)
|Types of zoning
||VI – Multiple Use Zone – 5,907 km2
VI – Special Purpose Zone – 7,147 km2
1a – Sanctuary Zone – 12,749 km2
|Management plan status
Interim management arrangements
The Murray Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) stretches south of the River Murray mouth off the South Australian coast for a distance of more than 400 kilometres from the inshore State waters to the edge of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The Murray Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes an extensive system of canyons. It covers a total area of 25,803 square kilometres.
Murray Commonwealth Marine Reserve contains one of the most spectacular geological formations on the Australian continental block, the Murray Canyons which stretch for more than 150 kilometres.
The Murray Commonwealth Marine Reserve spans an extensive area across the Lacapede shelf, continental slope and deeper water ecosystems of the major biological zone that extends from South Australia to the west of Tasmania. It contains one of the most spectacular geological formations on the Australian continental block, the Murray Canyons. Situated south of Kangaroo Island, off the South Australian coast the canyons stretch for more than 150 kilometres. Deeper than America's Grand Canyon and more than twice the height of Mt. Kosciusko, the Murray Canyons descend to 4600 metres below sea level.
The marine life that inhabits the Murray Canyons is supported by nutrient-rich sediments that have been deposited over thousands of years by the Murray River, which are both its namesake and the source of the sediments that formed the canyons. Enhanced productivity is associated with occasional seasonal upwelling in this area.
The trapped sediment and particles at the base of the canyons offer insights into the long-term pattern of changes to the Australian terrestrial environment. Scientists recently drilled deep cores into sediment at the base of the canyons to obtain insights into Australian climate patterns over a 250,000 year period.
The Murray Commonwealth Marine Reserve protects samples of the key features in the area, including continental shelf and slope, abyssal plain and Sprigg Canyon. It also covers areas of Australian sea lion and New Zealand fur seal habitat, a residence area for school shark and – between 400 and 600 metres depths – the gulper shark (southern dogfish) which has been nominated for listing as a threatened species.
Australian fur seal Copyright CSIRO