Tasmania has approximately 5 400 kilometres of coastline - more coastline per unit area than any other State in Australia.
The geographical position and varying climatic conditions of Tasmania, together with the influence of ocean currents, combine to produce a marine environment recognised as one of the most biologically diverse in the world. This rich variety of marine life includes kelp forests, seagrass beds and sponge gardens each with their own communities of fish and invertebrates, including a range of special creatures from sea dragons and fairy penguins to great white sharks and migrating whales. Tasmanian waters include a province with the highest known marine plant diversity in the world.
The temperate south marine environment surrounding Tasmania has been geographically and climatically isolated for around 35 million years. About 80–90% of species of most marine groups are endemic, compared to only 10% of species in most groups in northern tropical waters. As a result, the marine environment of Tasmania and similar southern areas is in many ways more significant in world terms than tropical areas such as the Great Barrier Reef.
The Tasmanian Reserve Estate includes 135,100 hectares in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), of which Macquarie Island MPA is 81,946 hectares. There are a further 48,500 hectares under reserve in other areas of the marine and estuarine environments. In total 7.9% of Tasmania’s State coastal waters is reserved, however only 4.2% is in no-take areas and the majority of this is concentrated around subantarctic Macquarie Island. Only 1.1% of Tasmania’s immediate coastal waters are fully protected in no-take areas.
The marine reserves of Tasmania offer a taste of this unique diversity.