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South Australia has a lot to offer, especially when it comes to marine life! Find out our top 10 below!

Marine Life in South Australia

South Australia has so much to offer, that it’s almost impossible to create a comprehensive bucket list, but we’ve given it a go anyway!

This list is meant to give new or visiting divers an idea of how diverse (and amazing) the underwater life that can be found in South Australia is. We truly are the hidden gem in Australia’s crown of amazing diving destinations and more and more people are discovering our stunning coastline and everything it has to offer!

Top 10 Marine Life 1 Leafy Sea Dragon

1. Leafy Sea Dragon

This rare fish and South Australia’s marine emblem can only be found in the southern waters of Australia. South Australia is the only state where it is consistently spotted throughout the year. Top spots: Rapid Bay Jetty, The Bluff, Second Valley, Edithburgh Jetty and Wool Bay.

Top 10 Marine Life 2 Striped Pyjama Squid

2. Striped Pyjama Squid

This cute sepioid is wearing black and white stripes and is one of the main attractions in South Australia. It usually sleeps during the day and buries itself in the sand, so they’re easiest to spot on night dives when they come out to hunt. Top spot: Edithburgh Jetty.

Top 10 Marine Life Blue Ringed Octopus

3. Blue Ringed Octopus

Be careful with these guys, they may be small but they’re one of the state’s most venomous animals! They’re well-camouflaged (brown, yellow or white) until provoked, when they start flashing their blue rings as a warning. Top spots: Edithburgh Jetty, Rapid Bay Jetty and Port Noarlunga Jetty.

Top 10 Marine Life 4 Giant Australian Cuttlefish

4. Giant Australian Cuttlefish

The giant cuttlefish can be found under our jetties and on our reefs year round, but congregates in exceptional numbers near Whyalla in our Winter months. The best viewing time for this spectacle is June/July. Top spots: Point Lowly Whyalla (June/July) and Rapid Bay.

Top 10 Marine Life 5 Port Jackson Shark

5. Port Jackson Shark

The cutest shark in our waters (with small flat teeth) hide between the rocks at Port Noarlunga Reef year round. Their mating season is in November when they congregate just off the reef at Christies Beach in large numbers and can easily be spotted in the shallow waters (on snorkel or scuba). In Summer the babies can be spotted around the Port Noarlunga Jetty. Top spots: Christies Beach (November) and Port Noarlunga Jetty & Reef.

Top 10 Marine Life Blue Devil Fish

6. Blue Devil Fish

The southern blue devil is cave dwelling fish! Always with a grumpy look on its face, these fish have beautiful bright spots on a dark blue body. They prefer rocky reefs with ledges and small caves and can be found all over the state. Best spots: Second Valley and Rapid Bay Jetty.

Top 10 Marine Life Bobtail Squid

7. Bobtail Squid

The southern bobtail squid (or dumpling squid) only lives for about 5 to 8 months and only grows up to approximately 7cm long, so they’re not the easiest to spot. They are nocturnal, so they’re easiest to spot at night. They have a beautiful colour and are always a delight to spot. Best spot: Port Noarlunga Reef.

Top 10 Marine Life 8 Southern Eagle Ray

8. Southern Eagle Ray

The Australian southern eagle ray can have a total length of 3 metres and can weigh up to 50kg, so if you spot one, you will know about it. They congregate in large numbers in the shallows near Brighton Beach, where the fishermen used to clean their catch. Best spots: Brighton Beach (snorkel or scuba), Second Valley and Rapid Bay shallows.

Top 10 Marine Life 9 Tassled Angler Fish

9. Tassled Angler Fish

The tassled angler fish is a species endemic to our waters. It is incredibly well camouflaged, so very hard to find. Two great spots to find them are the Rapid Bay Jetty and the Edithburgh Jetty. We’ve found a tassled angler fish with eggs a short while ago at Rapid Bay, so hopefully we’ll be seeing more of these “beauties” there soon!

Top 10 Marine Life 10 Sea Lions

10. Sea Lions

The puppies of the sea can be seen all year round in South Australia. If you’re not expecting them, they can scare the living daylights out of you if they come up from behind and suddenly look you in the eye. They are very inquisitive and usually love to mimic the diver’s movements underwater. Best spots: The Bluff, Edithburgh Jetty, Port Giles Jetty and Baird Bay.

Join us on a Custom SA Diving Safari

Keen to find them all? Book in for a multiple day custom diving safari where we’ll visit sites as Rapid Bay, Port Noarlunga, Edithburgh and many others! You will go on the hunt to find all of the animals mentioned above with one of our professional guides! Accommodation and transport can be included in the safari!

The Splendid One by Robert Rath


Are you a nudibranch lover?

Many people don’t expect South Australia to be a haven for nudibranchs as well, since our waters are temperate (ranging from 14-23 degrees) due to our mediterranean climate here in Adelaide!

Over 100 species have been recorded in our waters though with more than 20 at Port Noarlunga Reef alone, just a short 25 minute drive from the city!

Explore our top 10 nudibranchs and see if you can find them all!

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