Port Stanvac intertidal reef surveys

The intertidal reefs of Curlew Point, or Port Stanvac, are biologically significant on a regional scale. They also provide a unique opportunity for monitoring environmental changes on the South Australian coast. In 2007, the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board commissioned a study to compare the state of the reef with marine studies undertaken in the late 70s, 80s and 90s.

What was found?

Initial results indicated that Port Stanvac reefs are a regional biological hotspot. Large populations of invertebrate predators indicated a healthy reef, as these species need good prey populations. There were also many rare species found that were not recorded at other reef survey sites.

Port Stanvac’s submerged sandy habitats are also important. Whilst often seen as a 'desert', a range of life was found living here, often buried beneath the sand. The sandy sea floor supports a range of rare invertebrates, including the shell Neotrigonia margaritacea, a bivalve which occurs in sand under fast-flowing water.

Shells from the genus Neotrigonia are descendants from prehistoric molluscs which were abundant in the Mesozoic era, 251 to 65 million years ago. The Trigoniidae family of shells is now represented by only this one living genus, which is found off the southern Australian coast. This particular population off Port Stanvac is genetically isolated from all other known populations, the nearest being Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln.

Related links

Lead agency

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges; Flinders University

Funding partners

  • Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board