Coorong National Park: An Outstanding Ramsar Wetland of International Importance

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Founding and Ecological Values of the Coorong National Park

Coorong National Park, located in South Australia, 156 km southeast of Adelaide, was officially declared a national park in 1966. The move was a recognition of the area’s unique ecological importance and cultural significance, particularly for the Ngarrindjeri people, who have called this area home for thousands of years.

The decision to classify the Coorong as a national park was guided by the vital need to protect its unique biodiversity. The park provides a crucial habitat for a multitude of bird, fish, and plant species, some of which are rare or endangered. Additionally, the region’s cultural heritage is preserved, and its unique natural beauty maintained for future generations to experience and appreciate.

Furthermore, in 1985, the Coorong was recognised as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, emphasizing its role as a critical migratory pathway for birds along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. This global recognition underscores the importance of safeguarding this ecosystem from ongoing threats like climate change and human activities. The Coorong was listed alongside in conjunction withLakes Alexandrina and Albert Wetland. 

Highlights

One of the significant highlights of the Coorong National Park is its status as a wetland of international importance and a haven for birdwatchers. It is a long, narrow ribbon of saline wetlands, sand dunes, and lagoons stretching along the coastline. Over 200 bird species call the park home, including migratory shorebirds. The interplay of water and land here creates a stunning and ever-changing landscape, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Flora and Fauna of the Coorong National Park

The flora of Coorong National Park has brilliantly adapted to the park’s unique saline environment, creating an intriguing landscape of resilience and diversity. One can see swathes of sea rushes (Juncus kraussii), a sturdy grass-like plant that thrives in the park’s salty soils. The Coorong is also home to samphire shrubs, a group of succulent plants that add to the area’s vibrant green landscapes. Seablite (Suaeda australis), another salt-tolerant species, showcases sprays of tiny green leaves and contributes significantly to the park’s distinct aesthetic appeal.

The park is renowned for its avian diversity, hosting more than 200 bird species. Among them is the Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis), a migratory bird that makes the long journey from Siberia and northern China to the Coorong, known for its distinct long, down-curved bill. Fairy Terns (Sternula nereis), with their small size and light grey plumage, are a common sight along the park’s lagoons.

Furthermore, the Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) is another well-known resident, nesting on islands within the park’s lagoons. The Coorong is also a refuge for the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) during the non-breeding season. Waders, like the Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis), Egrets, and the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata), are other exciting species that can be observed in the park’s wetlands.

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Great Eastern Egret-Coorong National Park

For mammalian wildlife, the park is home to the western grey kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus), often spotted grazing in the park’s grasslands. Echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus), with their spiky coats, are fascinating creatures that can be found foraging for ants and termites. Several bat species, including the Southern Bent-wing bat (Miniopterus orianae bassanii), also inhabit the park, usually roosting in the park’s caves and crevices.

Reptilian inhabitants of the park include skinks and snakes, such as the Common Garden Skink (Lampropholis guichenoti) and the Lowland Copperhead (Austrelaps superbus). The park’s lagoons are a thriving hub for fish species like the Greenback flounder (Rhombosolea tapirina) and Small-mouthed hardyhead (Atherinosoma microstoma). Numerous invertebrates like mollusks and crustaceans are also part of the park’s ecosystem, playing essential roles in the food chain, from serving as a food source for birds and fish to aiding in nutrient cycling.

All these species, both flora and fauna, contribute to the vibrant biodiversity of the Coorong National Park, illustrating the significance of this protected area in conservation efforts.

corong-national-park-species
Corong National Park species. Credit INaturalist

Activities

Coorong National Park offers a wide array of activities for its visitors.  Birdwatchers will find it an ideal place to spot and identify a diverse range of birds. The park also offers opportunities for boating, kayaking, and exploring its diverse landscapes by car.

For more information, visit the South Australian National Parks website.

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