Explore the marine life of Sydney Harbour with East Coast Sailing’s Sydney boat rental
We all know how stunning the blue waters of Sydney Harbour are, reflecting back the sunshine that Sydney-siders can count on most days. With all the bustling traffic of boats, ferries, and cruise ships across the surface, it’s easy to forget about the vast and myriad marine species living at the depths of the sea. This is true for any part of the ocean of course, but Sydney Harbour has a distinctive ecosystem that has allowed for a uniquely large amount of sea life to thrive. If use East Coast Sailing for your Sydney boat rental, you may just be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some of the creatures that brave the border of sea and sky. Read on to learn about some of the most common, and some of the rarest species that live in the sparkling Sydney waters.
What marine life can I see from a boat hire in Sydney?
While there are twice as many types of fish in Sydney Harbour than the whole of the United Kingdom coastline, many of them aren’t seen from above the surface. If you’re riding on a hire boat in the Sydney Harbour, you’re more likely to spot on of the whale or dolphin species.
More than fifteen thousand whales migrate from their feeding ground in the Antarctic, to their breeding ground in the Coral Sea. This route runs right past Sydney, near the Sydney Harbour, so whale sightings are quite common from hire boats in Sydney. While boat hires definitely give you the best view and highest chances of spotting a whale, during peak season you might even see them from the shore! The most commonly sighted whales near Sydney Harbour are the humpbacks and the southern right whales. The best time for whale sighting is between May and September, as well as in December. It’s less likely to see any whales during the colder months of the year. From September to December, the humpbacks migrate back to the Antarctic, so you may see them heading south. This also may be a time to spot females with newborn calves in tow.
Aside from whales, dolphins are definitely the next most commonly sighted marine creature in the area. Pacific and bottlenose dolphins are the ones you’re likely to spot, especially if you’re out on a boat. Boats can generally get within thirty to ninety metres of dolphins and whales.
Aside from the whales and dolphins just mentioned, you may also come across the common dolphin, pilot whales, albatross and other seabirds, as well as the adorable Australian fur seals. Get more details on sightings here.
Learn more with Sydney boat rental: what’s beneath the surface?
It’s incredible to see sea aquatic animals while cruising along the Sydney Harbour, but some passengers will definitely be itching to know what creatures are lurking below that are harder to spot.
Sydney Harbour is often cited as having more species of fish than in all of the Mediterranean Sea. While still being counted and evaluated, so far there are more than 550 species identified, and that’s just the fish. The harbour is known for its unique estuarine ecosystem formed by sea levels rising and filling the existing river valley system. The resulting complex inlet network has allowed for many species to coexist that would otherwise live in different areas of the ocean.
While there are far too many species to name all of them, there are some existing in greater numbers than others. We’ve created a list of a few notable creatures in each sea life category for those who are extra keen. Here are our favourites:
Fish: Eastern blue groper, crimson banded wrasse, giant cuttle, moon wrasse, moorish idols, butterfly fish, splendid nudibranch, unicornfish, black reef and fan bellied leather jackets, hulafish, threebar porcupine fish and the yellowtail barracuda! Read more about the Harbour fish here. We also love the Giant, Gloomy, Mourning and Reaper cuttlefish even if they sound like a dismal bunch!
Sharks: Angel, Bull, Dusky Whaler, Great White, Grey Nurse, Port Jackson, and the Wobbegong Shark.
Rays: Common stingaree, Fiddler, Numb and Southern Eagle Ray.
Horses and dragons and more: Potbellied, Pygmy and White’s seahorse, Ornate Ghost, Tiger and Robust Ghost pipefish, Pygmy pipehorse, and the Weedy Seadragon.
Crabs, critters, and various creatures: The various nudibranchs including the Hypseldoris, Pancake aphelodoris, sweet ceratosoma and black-margined glossodoris nudibranch. We love the Blue swimmer, brittlestar, becorator, and hermit crabs as well as the feather duster worm, the featherstar, hinge-beak and hump-backed shrimp, peron’s sea slug, and the purple tube worm.
Miscellaneous: Some of the most fascinating creatures include the biscuit star, eleven armed sea star, as well as the football, jewel, tube, white-striped and monster anemones. We can’t forget the Sea Hare, Sea Urchin, soft coral sponge, Sydney scorpionfish, and the Yellow Zoanthids.
Non-natives: A lot of the current sea creatures were not originally from the Sydney Harbour area. These guys have either migrated here on cruise ships, or found their way from more tropical waters as the sea temperature has heated up further south. Bristle worms and sea squirts are considered invasive species, and the false clownfish and moorish idols are considered more tropical. We also get visitors such as the blue bottle, by-the-wind sailors, comb jellyfish and the Glaucos Atlantis.
Are you super keen and eager to learn about ALL the species of marine life in the Sydney Harbour? Visit the Underwater Sydney webpage and soak up as much as a soft coral sponge!
If you’re looking forward to viewing some of the spectacular marine life yourself, use our Sydney boat rental and hire it out for a day or weekend on the water, and don’t forget to bring your camera. Visit our website here, for more details about a boat hire Sydney Harbour!