ex HMAS Canberra Reef Marine Life

Which animals can you expect to see on the reef?

Starting from Scratch

Dive surveys and cameras will enable us to follow the colonisation by organisms right from the start as the ex HMAS Canberra Reef will be a clear canvas. Schools and colleges will be able to follow this colonisation on this web site as well as study the changing sea conditions and sea life around the artificial reef.

This page will trace the development of our research into the colonisation of the new artificial diving reef.

Early Arrivals

School of fish, Victoria, Australia
© SeaPics, David Bryant

Which will be the first fish species to appear around the reef soon after placement? And which will be the first to make this new artificial reef their home?

As it happens, we'll be providing these answers and more here.

Within days of sinking, divers will be reporting about schools of small fish sheltering in her cavernous hull. And after just a few weeks, her grey war paint will be mottled with the seedlings of an undersea garden as the warship starts to become a living reef.

We expect that fairly quickly a colony of tiny animals will develop and filter feeding animals like barnacles will settle. In time, fish will move in and start to feed on these first settlers.

Two Sides to the Story

Anemones, Victoria, Australia
© SeaPics, David Bryant

Because there will be different conditions on the two sides of the reef, different communities will grow up. Which side will be the richest in marine life?

We expect sea squirts, sea anemones and soft corals will dominate the communities. There is a lot of interest in how soon, or whether, various other species will colonise.

Areas in the light will develop algal cover, which in turn will shelter other marine species.

Around the Reef

The seabed around the ex HMAS Canberra Reef is likely to become a nursery for various fish species as they make use of the shelter provided by the artificial reef.

An exclusion zone will be established in the area directly above the ex HMAS Canberra Reef to exclude fishing. While essentially used to ensure diver safety, it will have the added benefit of providing a "no take" zone for fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should we do if we spot any unusual fish?
If you would like to report what you find while diving, please Contact Us.
Can divers take part in the scientific programmes and surveys?
If you wish to take part please write to the VARS stating your interest.

Marine Research Opportunities

The ex HMAS Canberra Reef presents many valuable marine research opportunities. It will provide us with a way to better understand how life takes hold beneath the sea. VARS hopes that once the ex HMAS Canberra FFG-02 has been scuttled, local researchers will be able to partner with divers to document its metamorphosis from warship to ecosystem.

Marine Life Related Organisations

Some of the marine life related organisations operating in Victoria include:

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