The temperate oceans of New Zealand and southern Australia...

the clear waters of Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Kingdom Chromista

Class Phaeophyceae: Brown Algae

Order Laminariales: Kelps

Family Lessoniaceae 

(Rottnest Island)

Ecklonia radiata, 'Common/Spiny Kelp'.  Can form dense underwater forests. Found from shallow waters down to 25 metres. Widespread in temperate waters of southern hemisphere.

Kingdom Plantae

Order Asimatales

Family Poisidoniaceae

(Rottnest Island)

Posidonia sp. 'Strapweed'. A group of seagrass with a disjunct distribution; they are found in the Mediterranean and in southern Australian waters.

Kingdom Animalia

Phylum Cnidaria: Corals and Sea Jellies

Order Antipatharia: Black Corals

(Milford Sound Underwater Observatory, New Zealand)

Antipathella (previously Antipathes) fiordensis, 'Black Coral'.

Phylum Annelida

Class Polychaeta

Order Sabellida

(Milford Sound Underwater Observatory, New Zealand)

Protula sp. 'Marine Polychaete Worm' 

Phylum Echinodermata: 
'Sea Stars', 'Sea Cucumbers' etc

Family Asteriidae

(Milford Sound Observatory, New Zealand)

Coscinasterias calamaria, 'Eleven-armed Sea-star'. Found along southern Australia and New Zealand shores. 


Family Serrandiae

(Milford Sound Underwater Observatory, New Zealand)

Caesioperca lepidoptera, 'Butterfly/Red Perch'. Found in New Zealand and southern Australian waters.

Family Kyphosidae: 'Sea Chubs', 'Drummers'

(Rottnest Island, Australia)

Kyphosus cornelii, 'Western Buffalo Bream'.

Family Pomacentridae: Damselfish

Rottnest Island)

Pomacentrus milleri, 'Miller's Damselfish'.. Adults uniformly dark dull, with blueish tinge, darker edged scales and lighter blue on edge of fins. Extends into tropical areas of eastern Indian Ocean, where it is often brighter in colour.

Family Labridae: Wrasses

(Milford Sound Underwater Observatory, New Zealand)

Pseudolabrus miles, 'Scarlet Wrasse'. Endemic to New Zealand.

(Milford Sound Underwater Observatory, New Zealand)

Notolabrus fucicola, 'Blue Wrasse'. Found in temperate eastern Australian and New Zealand waters; in the latter region it is the largest wrasse.

(Rottnest Island, Australia)

Coris auricularis, 'Western King Wrasse', juvenile. Found along west Australian coast. When at juvenile stage, often works as a cleaner fish.

Family Monacanthidae

(Milford Sound Underwater Observatory, New Zealand)

 Meuschenia scaber, 'Smooth/Velvet Leatherjacket'.

Class Reptilia

(off Moreton Island, Queensland)

Chelonia mydas, 'Green Turtle'. Even though they do not grow as large as Leatherback or Loggerhead turtles, the individuals in cooler waters can be large and heavy, much more so than their tropical equivalents. The Green is the most widespread and commonly seen of the marine turtles, and although they are mostly tropical, they can turn up in cooler waters all around Australia. 

Class Aves: Birds

Order Charadriiformes

Family Laridae: Terns & Gulls

(Rottnest Island, Australia)

Thalasseus bergii, 'Crested Tern'.

Larus pacificus, “Pacific Gull’. Large gull with a very large and thick bill, and ‘red lipstick’. More or less endemic to southern Australian coast.

Family Spheniscidae: Penguins

(Fiordland, New Zealand)

Eudyptes pachyrhynchus, 'Fiordland (Crested) Penguin'. Breeding endemic to New Zealand.

Order Procellariiformes; 'the tubenoses'

This order includes the Albatross & Mollymawks, Storm Petrels, Prions, and all the other petrels. 

They are distinguished by their nostrils being enclosed in a tube that runs along the bill.

They include the largest of all flying birds; the Great Albatross reach wingspans of 3.6 metres

(Off south-west coast of Tasmania)

Thalassarche cauta, 'Shy/White-capped Albatross'/Mollymawk'. Yellow tip to bill. Light grey on the side of the face produce a subtle white cap. A  breeding endemic to southern Australasia, nesting on only three islands off the coast of Tasmania and four islands off New Zealand, but can be seen at sea around colder temperate southern oceans of planet. The species is sometimes split into the Shy 'Tasmanian' Albatross and the NZ White-capped Mollymawk.


Thalassarche chrysostoma, 'Grey-headed Albatross'.

Family Procellariidae: Prions, Shearwaters, Diving Petrels and various Petrels 

(Mercury, New Zealand)

Pterodroma gouldi, 'Grey-faced Petrel'. Breeding endemic to north island of New Zealand.

Pachyptila spp. 'Prions'

(on board Oceanic Discoverer in New Zealand)

Pachyptila vittata, 'Broad-billed Prion'. The largest of the prions, with the widest bill. Found at sea around the cooler southern oceans, sometimes ends up on ships.

(on board Coral Discoverer off south-west Tasmania)

Pachyptila turtur, 'Fairy Prion'. The smallest of the prions. Found at sea around the cooler southern oceans, sometimes ends up on ships. 

Pelecanoides spp., 'Diving Petrels'

(off Tasmania)

Pelecanoides urinatrix, 'Common Diving Petrel'. A tiny seabird that 'flies through waves'. I think Diving Petrels are potatoes with hummingbird wings. Because they only seen in colder oceans usually remote from humans, they are not commonly seen or known by most people. Because they are so small and fast, they are hard to photograph, and indeed even see.

Class Mammalia


(New Zealand)

Cephalorhynchus hectori, 'Hector's Dolphin'. The smallest dolphin species in the world. Endemic to bays around the New Zealand coast.

(Kaikoura, New Zealand)

Lagenorhynchus obscurus'Dusky Dolphin'.

(Kaikoura, New Zealand)

Physeter macrocephalus'Sperm Whale'.

Order Carnivora


Family Otariidae: the 'Eared Seals', including sea lions and fur seals

(Rottnest Island, Australia)

New Zealand Fur Seals often expose their flippers to the sun to warm up.

(Rottnest Island)

Arctocephalus forsteri, 'New Zealand Fur Sea'.  Found around coast of New Zealand and southern Australia.

Places to experience Australasian temperate oceans

New Zealand has great coastline and rich temperate waters to explore. The seas off Kaikoura are incredibly rich with life, due to a drop off close to the coast. There is an interesting window into the underwater world through the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory. The rarely visited Snares Islands are south of Stewart island off the South Island, New Zealand.

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