Our Australia. One Place, Many Stories: Oceans

Australia has the third largest marine estate of any nation in the world. It is a massive area larger than our landmass and extends from the tropical seas of the north to the sub-Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean.

Our oceans possess an abundance of biodiversity and marine life – some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world – and there is still much about our oceans that we are yet to discover.

Australia’s vast oceans provide many benefits to its people and its visitors alike – as a source of food, recreation, and a range of industries such as minerals and energy that contribute to our economy. But this extraordinary natural diversity and biological richness comes with some responsibility. We need to ensure our oceans, and the life in them, remain healthy, productive and resilient so that future generations can enjoy them as we do.

For its part, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities works to achieve these goals through programs and initiatives in a range of focus areas including marine bioregional planning, the creation and management of marine reserves, the conservation and recovery of protected species and assessing the sustainability of Australia’s fisheries.

Our Australia. One Place, Many Stories: Oceans – view some of Australia’s iconic ocean environments.

Our Australia. One Place, Many Stories: Oceans


Marine turtles have lived in the oceans for over 100 million years. They are an integral part of the traditional culture of many coastal indigenous peoples throughout the world.

Marine turtles migrate long distances between their feeding grounds and nesting sites. They have a large shell called a carapace, four strong, paddle-like flippers and like all reptiles, lungs for breathing air. The characteristic beak-like mouth is used to shear or crush food.

All marine turtle species are experiencing serious threats to their survival. The main threats are pollution and changes to important turtle habitats, especially coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests and nesting beaches. Other threats include accidental drowning in fishing gear, over-harvesting of turtles and eggs, and predation of eggs and hatchlings by foxes, feral pigs, dogs and goannas.

Species found in Australia

There are only a few large nesting populations of the green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles left in the world. Australia has some of the largest marine turtle nesting areas in the Indo-Pacific region and has the only nesting populations of the flatback turtle.

Of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, six occur in Australian waters:

Flatback turtle (Natator depressus)

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

The department is responsible for implementing the Australian Government’s policies to protect our environment and heritage, and to promote a sustainable way of life.

For more information on the Sea Life of Australia visit their web site

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