Are you planning to hit the beach this summer
Australia has the longest coastline in the world. It’s full of life in all sizes and shapes – from dolphins jumping offshore to crabs scrambling into their holes.
This is just a small sample of what you can expect to see if you spend time at the shore this summer.
Dolphins and turtles
The 15 different species of dolphins (and the porpoise) that live in Australian waters are a great blessing. Australian waters are home to 15 species of dolphins (and one porpoise). The large Bottlenose Dolphins are fairly common and can be seen all along our coast.
They may be seen playing in the surf, jumping from the water, or even surfing with humans.
The dorsal fin (upper) of the bottlenose dolphin is curved and pronounced. Shutterstock
Turtles can be seen when they raise their heads to breathe. Six of the seven sea turtles in the world live on Australia’s coastlines. All are listed as vulnerable or endangered.
Green turtles (Cheloniamydas), the most common, can be found anywhere except in cold southern waters. The turtles migrate north in summer to the tropical waters around QLD, NT, and WA, where they lay their eggs on the warm sand.
Don’t litter. Green turtles can get caught in fishing nets or gear, and they may die if they ingest plastics. John Turnbull/Flickr. Author provided
The water dragon is another reptile that you may encounter along the east coast. (Intellagama Lesueurii). They’re often found hovering near picnic areas on the beach, searching for tasty treats like flies and bugs. It’s important to not feed native animals.
Water dragons are excellent swimmers, and they stay close to the water. John Turnbull/Flickr Author provided
Heads in clouds
You’ll find many different coastal bird species flying above if you look up.
The protected white-bellied eagle is one of our favorites. Both species rely on marine life for food and nest along Australia’s coast.
You can see white-bellied sea Eagles with wingspan up to 2m soaring over headlands. WikiCommons
The sea eagle mainly feeds on turtles, fish and sea snakes. It was recently listed as threatened, endangered, or vulnerable in four states. This is largely due to coastal development.
The sooty cockle catcher, on the other hand, is all black. It has bright orange eyes and a large beak. On rocky shores, Sooties are often seen strutting between seaweed and sea squirts.
These birds are known to eat molluscs, as well as other invertebrates.
The sooty makes a loud whistle call before flying. John Turnbull/Flickr Author provided
Crawling coastal critters
The swift-footed Crab ( Leptograpsus Variegatus) is one of the many animals that will seek cover when humans or sooties approach. The body of this crab is mostly purple, with some olive and orange flecks.
This species is found on the rocky coasts of southern Australia from WA, QLD and Tasmania.
The shell of the swift-footed crab can reach a maximum size of 5cm. John Turnbull/Flickr Author provided
The sand bubbler is a crab that you’re less likely to encounter. You might be able to see the result of its arduous activity in flat, sandy and wet areas.
Sand bubblers are burrow dwellers that emerge during low tides to filter sand with their mouth parts in search of food.
They end up with pea-sized sandballs. They return to their burrows when the tide begins to rise and breathe in bubbles of air.
Sand bubblers are small and will hide quickly if they feel danger. John Turnbull/Flickr Author provided
The octopus is one of many mollusks that we have on our shores. Cephalopods, including squids and cuttlefishes, are considered among the most intelligent animals on Earth.
In urban areas, it has been reported that octopuses make their homes out of jars, bottles and coffee cups. John Turnbull Author provided
This may be because the tentacles of the octopus are able to function independently due to the nine “brains” in its head, including a brain in a donut shape.
Australia is home to several octopus types, from the Maori Octopus (O. The Maori octopus (O. Blue-ringed Octopus: A potentially deadly predator