Sheltered bays are an important feature of Eyre Peninsula’s coastline. The calm, warmer waters of sheltered bays are important nurseries for young fish and shellfish, and the high nutrient content of the water provides food for both young and parents.
In waters which are influenced by tidal variation and fresh water from land, clear zones in vegetation and salinity form; brackish or salt marsh often develops at high water level and tidal flat develops within the tidal zone. These tidal flats are particularly abundant with life forms, the main inhabitants being shellfish, worms, crabs, crustaceans, fish, and benthic algae, reeds, and other larger plants, as well as other migratory birds which forage in the sand and mud.
There are a number of sheltered bays that are found within the WildEyre project area, including Bairds Bay, Venus Bay and Streaky Bay.
Sheltered coastal bays in the WildEyre area are home to a myriad of important or threatend species. The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), Sooty Oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosis), Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris), Hooded Plover (Thinornis rubricollis), Fairy Terns (Sterna nereis) and Blue breasted Fairy-wrens (Malurus pulcherrimus) are all found in these areas.
Streaky Bay is listed on the Register for Nationally Significant Wetlands of Australia, and is a hotspot for bird species which fall under international agreements for conservation. Venus Bay has also been classified as an ‘Important Bird Area’ by BirdLife International.
The islands found within these sheltered bays are often safe havens for species to breed, shelter and forage. The Venus Bay Islands are known to be significant breeding sites for Rock Parrots (Neophema rubricollis), Reef Herons (Egretta sacra) and various Tern species.