Salt and Sand

All life needs water, but a life in the salty depths requires a whole new approach! Some of the world's most elaborate adaptations can be found beneath the ocean waves - animals that produce light, bacteria that thrive where nothing else can and plankton that produce most of the world's oxygen. These are just some of the amazing organisms that call the ocean home.

Artist: Kathirine Sentas


Blue-lined Octopus

Hapalochlaena fasciata
Size: 15cm

Vibrant blue markings appear on the Blue-lined Octopus when they are disturbed to warn away potential threats.  They are very non-aggressive and shy however they may bite and inject their paralysing venom if handled.

Distribution: southern Queensland to southern New South Wales



Maori Rock-cod

Epinephelus undulatostriatus

This endemic Australian species is distinguished by wavy lines arranged in intricate patterns over its body. It is found in coastal reefs and deep estuaries.

Distribution: southern Queensland to New South Wales


Juvenile Snapper

Chrysophrys auratus

The soft coral habitat provides an important nursery for the juvenile pink snapper. Mature Snappers can grow up to 1.3 metres and are one of the most popular food and sport fishes in southern Australia.


Striped Anglerfish

Antennarius striatus

The Striped Anglerfish can be found hiding amongst the soft corals of Port Stephens. This species attracts its prey using the worm shaped lure on top of its head. Once it is close enough, it rapidly sucks its prey into its large mouth.

Distribution: coastal waters worldwide


Nudibranch - Major Armina

Armina major

Size: 5 – 10cm

This species of nudibranch feeds on the soft corals and sea pens.


Striped Pyjama Squid


Sepioloidea lineolata


Size: 7cm


The Striped Pyjama Squid spends most of the day buried under sand with eyes protruding. This helps them hide from predators and capture passing prey such as shrimp and fish.

Distribution: Southern Indo-Pacific waters of Australia


Dwarf Ornate Wobbegong Shark

Orectolobus ornatus

The Dwarf Ornate Wobbegong Shark has a well camouflaged body and can often be seen hiding in seagrass and kelp waiting for an unsuspecting prey.

Distribution: only along the east coast of Australia


Paradise Whiptail

Pentapodus paradiseus

Size: 20cm

Found at depths from 3-30 metres, the paradise Whiptail is a striking fish with distinct reflective stripes on its head and body.


White's Seahorse

Hippocampus whitei

Size: 15 – 20cm

White’s Seahorse is a threatened species that only occurs in the waters of New South Wales. Declining seahorse populations are directly linked to the decline of soft coral and sponge habitats. Seahorses use camouflage to blend in with their surroundings. Their colouration varies considerably to match the colour of the coral, plant, or sponge that it is living in.

Distribution: New South Wales