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What lies beneath the waters surface Sandy Floors

At first sight, sandy floors seem almost empty of life. There are no plants like the seagrass meadows and there are no reefs. Nevertheless, sandy floors are important to the marine environment.

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At first sight, sandy floors seem almost empty of life. There are no plants like the seagrass meadows and there are no reefs. Nevertheless, sandy floors are important to the marine environment. The sand itself sieves the seawater and filters nutrients out. This means bacteria and other microorganisms can live in the sand and near its surface.

Detritus (waste matter) builds up in the sandy floor, where decomposers like the sea cucumber filter feed the sand. These creatures clean the sand particles of the waste matter and this forms their food.  The waste from the sea cucumber is clean sand.

Sandy floors are also home to molluscs and crustaceans. Some of these creatures use the sand as their base and filter the seawater to feed on nutrients and microorganisms.

Most creatures live in the sand and emerge usually at night to feed or breed. The Bubble Shell, Moon Shell, Razor Clam, the Two-spot Swimming Crab, the Blue Manna Swimming Crab and a variety of other shells and crustaceans can be found living in this habitat.

When snorkelling, look out for tracks left on the sandy floors by the movements these creatures. You can also see rays in these sandy shallows and fish like the Silver Drummer and Western Buffalo Bream swimming there in schools.  



Conservation Status

The waters around Rottnest Island are a designated Marine Reserve. Also, some parts of Rottnest’ sandy floors are included the Marine Sanctuary Zones shown in the Rottnest Island Marine Management Strategy (2007).

  • Extinct
  • Extinct in Wild
  • Critically Endangered
  • Endangered
  • Vulnerable
  • Near Threatened
  • Least Concerned

Protect this sensitive habitat and preserve the Island’s ecosystem by:

  • Do Not stand on reef and coral while snorkelling or diving
  • Do use water wisely on the island
  • Do dispose of your litter correctly
  • Do anchor only in sandy areas of water
  • Do snorkel and enjoy the marine environment

Got a suggestion?

We're always open to feedback on how we can improve Rottnest Island for our visitors and wildlife!