Intertidal reef communities of the Marmion & Shoalwater Islands marine parks
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Intertidal platform reefs are a distinctive feature of the Perth coastline. Occurring adjacent to shoreline beaches and also as isolated offshore reefs, these limestone platforms have been formed by wave action over many centuries.
Rising and falling tides exert a major influence on the structure of intertidal reef communities, and this influence typically results in a distinctive distribution of organisms based on their tolerance to being exposed to the air when the tide is low. Those inhabiting the highest part of the rocky shore, and therefore exposed more often and for longer periods, are typically hardy, desiccation-resistant species. Those living further seaward are more frequently submerged, although even these organisms may be exposed to the drying sun during particularly low tides, or can be periodically buried by the deposition of shifting beach sand. During winter storms, large waves may crash onto these reefs, stripping away algae and dislodging animals. Yet despite such harsh conditions, intertidal reefs can support a diverse assemblage of algae and invertebrates.
Intertidal reefs are recognised as key ecological values of the Marmion and Shoalwater Islands marine parks that are located adjacent to the Perth metropolitan area. Between 2009 and 2012, marine scientists from DEC’s Marine Science Program and the WA Herbarium worked with local marine park staff to survey some of the numerous intertidal reefs in these marine parks to improve our understanding of the communities they support.
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