The best places to swim with Sydney’s marine life

By Justin Gilligan 12 July 2018
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Slip on a face mask, snorkel and fins and go for a swim with Sydney’s marine wildlife.

1. Fishermans Beach, Long Reef

The sheltered nature of the beach here makes it ideal to see sedentary invertebrates such as feather stars and sea urchins, as well as more active nudibranchs (sea slugs).

2. Manly

The last mainland breeding site of little penguins in NSW is at Manly, where these aquatic birds come ashore to nest in tunnels from May to February. They can, however, also be seen foraging elsewhere in the waters of Sydney Harbour and along the Sydney coast from Botany Bay to Narrabeen.

3. Shelly Beach

This site is at the south-eastern end of Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve. Expect to see fiddler rays, Port Jackson sharks, wobbegongs, flounder, goatfish, old wives, flathead and more.

4. Chowder Bay

There’s a surprising range of fish life to see at this inshore harbour location; from pipefish, frogfish, goatfish and leatherjackets to bottom-dwelling blennies and striate anglerfish. There’s also a great array of invertebrates, from sea hares to cuttlefish.

5. Clovelly and Gordons Bay

Clovelly is famous for its resident blue gropers. You should also be able to see starfish, sponges, urchins, anemones and cuttlefish here. And follow the shore southwards to Gordons Bay where you’ll find octopuses, moray eels, schooling fish. spotted goatfish, garfish and Port Jackson sharks.

6. Bare Island,  La Perouse

The strange-looking red Indian fish is a star attraction here: look for them sheltering within colourful sponge beds and rocky reefs. You can also see pufferfish, gurnards, seahorses, stingrays, sponge crabs and nudibranchs (sea slugs), and if you’re lucky you might spot juvenile green turtles.

7. Kurnell, Port Botany

Slip into the water at Silver Beach, snorkel eastwards and you should soon encounter seahorses, lots of weedy seadragons, giant cuttlefish, moray eels and Port Jackson sharks.

8. Oak Park Pool, Cronulla

This stunning rock pool leads to an underwater world where the featured highlights are blue gropers, moray eels, weedy seadragons and giant cuttlefish.