Cottesloe Reef - Fish Habitat Protection Area

Cottesloe Reef, located in Perth’s western suburbs, sits on a limestone shelf, known locally as the Cottesloe Fringing Bank.

The shelf extends approximately 1.5 kilometres offshore from the beach. Comprised of limestone-elevated platforms, water-eroded outcrop and pinnacles, the depth of the reef system varies, according to the contours of the underwater landscape.   It is a healthy, flourishing marine system, considered by marine scientists to have attributes unique to the Perth metropolitan area.

The reef is a valuable and inspiring natural resource, but, due to its accessibility and popularity, it is vulnerable to human impact, underlying the reason to declare it a Fish Habitat Protection Area (FHPA). 

An FHPA is a location declared by the Minister for Fisheries as having special ecological and community significance and thus deserving special management to ensure its long-term sustainability. Its principal aim is to preserve valuable fish and marine environments for the future use and enjoyment of all people.  Special rules regarding fishing and other activities apply in most FHPAs.   

Species to Look For

While snorkelling in the local waters, you can encounter a diverse array of marine life. In the shallower depths near the reef and seagrasses, keep an eye out for the weedy seadragon and the rare leafy seadragon. Deeper waters host thriving ecosystems with corals, sea cucumbers, and sponge gardens. The unique reef platform at Mudurup Rocks is home to delicate creatures like feather stars and small molluscs, providing protection from heat and low summer tides. The reef system is teeming with finfish, including herring, tailor, skipjack (silver trevally), whiting, morwong, and tarwhine (silver bream). Additionally, the area serves as a breeding ground for squid, Port Jackson sharks, and other elasmobranchs, including stingrays.

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Further Information

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development website

Cottesloe Reef - Fish Habitat Protection Area Pamphlet