Caring for coast and marine
The eastern edge of the Great Australian Bight is a unique area of sandy coastline and pristine waters. This area, which starts 200 kilometres west of Ceduna, is also part of the nearby Yalata community’s Indigenous Protected Area. The natural beauty of this area and the mulloway fishing season attract many visitors, with recreational activities in this area unchecked for many years. As a result, the AW team is working in partnership with Yalata Land Management and the Yalata Community to restore and preserve this unique area.
Entry to this area requires a permit and strict conditions apply. Yalata Rangers patrol the beaches daily, checking permits and working to protect the shorebirds and the fragile coastal environment.
Projects carried out in this area include:
- beach maintenance
- shorebird monitoring and threat assessment
- marine debris surveys and beach clean-ups
- whale survey
- mulloway survey
Yalata Shorebird Survey 2023
Whales in the Great Australian Bight
Large numbers of migrating whales are sighted each year in the waters off South Australia’s west coast. These southern right whales usually live well offshore in the Southern Ocean. Between May and October they reside in the warm, shallow coastal waters for their mating and breeding season, where their young calves are protected from harsh weather conditions and potentially dangerous sea floors such as coral reefs.
Once abundant, southern right whale numbers were drastically reduced during intensive whaling activities in the 1800s. Today, the southern right whale is endangered, with the population estimated at just ten percent of that before whaling. Numbers are now slowly increasing, with the whales’ breeding area in the Great Australian Bight protected by the Far West Coast Marine Park. Marine parks have been designed to help protect threatened and endangered species and the habitats they rely upon for breeding.
Whale watching can be spectacular! Weighing up to 70 tonnes, the whales can be seen close to the surface and by late August, mothers with young calves are often spotted. The Head of Bight Tourist Centre provides a unique destination for whale watching. Built on Yalata land, the centre offers boardwalks and a viewing platform, as well as events and kids' activities.
To help protect our native species and the beautiful marine environment they call home, South Australia has created a system of marine parks.
Protecting nursery areas and other critical habitats can only result in stronger, healthier fish populations in the long term, and what is good for fish is also good for the marine food chain and for both recreational and commercial fishing.
The sanctuary zones within marine parks are important for conservation, and do not allow mining, dredging, aquaculture, fishing or trawling. This gives marine animals places to retreat for breeding, caring for young and growing to adulthood. It also provides opportunities for nature-based tourism, education and research.
The Far West Coast Marine Park in the Alinytjara Wiluṟara Landscape region is a popular whale watching destination and is a critically important breeding and calving area for the southern right whale.
Fishing is popular in the area – abalone, rock lobster, scale fish and shark are able to be caught outside the sanctuary zones. Diving is allowed throughout the park, with reef fish, corals and invertebrates providing stunning viewing for divers.
Find out more about the Far West Coast Marine Park.