Ngari Capes Marine Park

Posted on Dec 23, 2014

Ngari Capes Marine ParkCoastAndMarine

Ngari Capes Marine Park (pronounced Nyari which is the Aboriginal name for Salmon) is a marine park that was formally established in June 2012, in order to protect this important marine area from things such as development, overfishing, pollution and other pressures from humans.

This marine park is 124,000 hectares, extending from the southern half of Geographe Bay, around to Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin to Flinders Bay near Augusta. The marine zone starts in the intertidal zone and extends 3 nautical miles from shore.

There are various zones within the marine park, including:

  • General Use Zones
  • Recreational Zones
  • Sanctuary Zones
  • Special Purpose Zones (shore-based activities) and
  • Special Purpose Zones (surfing).

Biological and physical values

The marine park lies in the Leeuwin–Naturaliste (LNE) bioregion (ANZECC 1998). This marine bioregion covers an area of 26,575 square kilometres seaward of the 10 metre depth contour, between Perth and Black Point, east of Augusta. This marine bioregion is characterised by a narrow continental coast with shores that are affected by high energy, heavy swells, and with rocky headlands interspersed with long, sweeping beaches. Biological productivity in the region is supported by extensive temperate seagrass meadows, which are second only to Shark Bay in the state, and macroalgal communities associated with the rocky reefs.

The marine park consists of four areas that are representative of the Leeuwin–Naturaliste marine bioregion:

  • Geographe Bay (learn more about Geographe Bay and its seagrass beds here)
  • the Cape Naturaliste to Cape Mentelle coast
  • the Cape Mentelle to Cape Leeuwin coast
  • Flinders Bay.

These areas show distinct differences in geomorphology, oceanography, habitats and flora and fauna. The South West capes area is one of the most diverse temperate marine environments in Australia. Warm, tropical waters of the Leeuwin Current mingle with the cool waters of the Capes Current, resulting in high finfish diversity, including tropical and temperate species and internationally significant seagrass diversity with seagrasses occurring at depths greater than 40 metres. The area’s geomorphology is complex with an array of intertidal and subtidal reef environments. Many marine plants and animals are endemic to the southern coast of Australia due to its long geographical isolation, with seagrass, algae and estuarine habitats functioning as spawning, nursery and feeding grounds for a wide range of invertebrates and fish. Significant numbers of marine mammals also frequent the area, including the blue whale, the largest of all marine creatures.

Brochure: Marine Communities of the South West Capes Region (UWA, 2009). Click to download (1 MB)

brochure marine communities of the south west capes region

Marine life study

Long-term monitoring of the marine life of the Ngari Capes Marine Park was undertaken to (1) broaden our understanding of the region’s marine environment by developing a long term, quantitative database for fish and algae community changes over time and (b) create a benchmark against which changes to marine biodiversity following the establishment of marine parks can be determined (Westera et al, 2008).

From this study, three interactive excel spreadsheets were developed to enable users to query the survey findings and look at trends in data from over four years of work by the Centre for Marine Futures at UWA.

Patterns and Indicators for Fish Assemblages in the Proposed Ngari Marine Park

Get to know the marine fish life of the marine park including facts on fish species present such as where it sits in the food chain and how vulnerable it is to fishing.

Patterns and Indicators for Fish Assemblages in the Proposed Ngari Marine Park measured on transects by diver operated video systems.

Click on image to open excel spreadsheet (2 MB).

Interactive excel spreadsheet fish

Patterns and Indicators for Fish Assemblages in the Proposed Ngari Marine Park: stereo BRUVS (three locations Cape Naturaliste, Injidup and Cape Freycinet).

Click on image to open excel spreadsheet (3 MB).

Interactive excel spreadsheet fish BRUVS

Benthic communities of the Southwest (Capes) Region

Find out about the diversity of benthic communities at six locations from Geographe Bay to Flinders Bay. Users can choose from assemblage indicators (species richness and total biomass) or consider the most abundant and most widespread species.

Click on image to open excel spreadsheet (82 MB).

Interactive excel spreadsheet benthic communities

Social and Cultural Values

Ancient spiritual beliefs connect Aboriginal people and their culture to this area. Many locality names such as Yallingup, Meelup, Injidup, Cowaramup and Boodijup are of Aboriginal origin and carry Aboriginal meaning and significance. A significant number of sites important to Aboriginal people are located within the South West capes area.

A rich maritime heritage is evident in place names such as Geographe, Leeuwin, Naturaliste, Freycinet and Hamelin. These places provide a continual reminder of early European exploration and scientific visits which occurred prior to colonial settlement of Western Australia. The Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin lighthouses stand as reminders of early settler presence and ingenuity. Cape Leeuwin is the point of meeting of two great oceans of the world, the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean.

The South West capes area has one of the fastest growing populations in Australia and is frequently visited by tourists. The unique geographical location of this region exposes it to large, uninterrupted ocean swells and results in the South West capes area being recognised as one of the world’s premier surfing regions. Many activities occurring in the region are marine based, including commercial and recreational fishing, swimming, surfing, diving, snorkelling, boating, and marine nature based tourism. The wild character of the west coast and wildlife experiences are also highly valued, ranging from the appreciation of spectacular seascapes to whale and dolphin watching. Tourism is a major growth industry in the area.

Conservation Status

The marine park was formally established in June 2012 as a Class A Marine Park and is managed by the State Government.


With high levels of regional growth forecast to continue, combined with significant increases in tourists and locals recreating by the coast, the threats to marine and coastal communities are likely to intensify accordingly. Contaminants and the introduction of exotic species in the marine and coastal environs are also likely to increase if effective management strategies are not put into place to deal with increasing demands. The threat to natural resources is also likely to increase in the near future with greater numbers of fishers and improvements in technology that increase the capacity to locate and capture fish (Limbourne & Westera 2006).

Ngari Capes Marine Park and Climate Change

Climate change is also expected to heavily impact the SW in the near future with changes to rainfall patterns and small changes in sea-level likely to have profound impacts across the SW region.

SWCC Strategic Priority

Ngari Capes Marine Park is identified as a priority asset under the Coasts and the Marine Environment theme.





Header and thumbnail images supplied by Sarah Molloy.

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