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Bunurong Environment Centre

Corner. Ramsay Bvd. & The Esplanade, Inverloch 3996. Victoria.

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Estuarine Ecology......

Introduction to the area of study

Estuaries form a transition zone between river and ocean environments. Subjected to tides, waves and the influx of seawater, as well as flows of freshwater and sediment, they are some of the most productive natural habitats in the world.

The dynamic estuarine areas of Anderson's Inlet, from Inverloch to Tarwin Lower, are ideal sites for school excursions as they contain expansive intertidal environments.

Here you'll find coastal scrub, open woodlands, mangroves, saltmarsh and mudflats.

Anderson's Inlet is a significant site for wading birds, fish breeding, and endangered species such as the orange bellied parrot.

Screw Creek, which runs into the estuary at the eastern end of Inverloch, is a particularly good destination for school groups as it's easily accessible with picnic facilities and toilets nearby.

Possible aims for the visit

    Compare the variety of ecosystems on the estuary

    Examine and identify the distinct plants and animals found within these ecosystems

    Identify and describe relationships between organisms and their surroundings

    Identify and draw simple foods chains/food webs that exist in estuarine areas

    Observe the behaviour of animals in the area

    Identify the effect of climatic and tidal changes on the area

    Identify the effect of human activity on these ecosystems

Work sheets are available from Bunurong Coast Education  (BCE) for all the activities listed above.

Time required

Depending on your focus and the year level involved, these activities would more than fill a day excursion.

The mudflats and Screw Creek are best visited a couple of hours either side of low tide.

Tide times are available online from the Bureau of Meteorology. (To calculate the tide times for Inverloch, check the times for Port Phillip Heads and add 20 minutes or 1:20 during summer.)

Equipment required

To carry out studies within the distinct communities, the following equipment would be useful:

    tape measures or hula hoops to mark out quadrats

    thermometers and pH meters to compare the abiotic factors

    dip nets and digging tools to examine the animal life in the sea grass and mudflats

    BCE provides some materials in consultation with visiting schools.


Recommended resources

        Anderson Inlet Waders and Waterbirds - SGCS, $12

        Bunurong Coastal Reserve - E Brewster, $5

        Environmental Activities around Inverloch - SGCS, $5

        Beachcombing Guide for South Gippsland Coast Areas - leaflet, $1

        Shells of the Inverloch Areas - leaflet, $1

        Screw Creek Nature Walk - leaflet, free

        Rockpooling Around the Bunurong - Eagger & Rowe, $6

        Our Coast - CD, $10

        Indigenous Plants of Bass Coast Shire (pdf)

     Please Remember!

    Teachers and students are reminded that activities involving the collection or removal of any material, including animals, plants, shells, rocks, sand or seaweed, are not permitted within the Bunurong Marine National Park.