Our coasts and sea life

Northern Territory coasts have some of the last healthy tropical waters in the world.

Our Top End coasts are wild, diverse and unique - home to six of the world’s seven sea turtles, migrating whales, the recently-identified snubfin dolphin, the vulnerable dugong and iconic sawfish.

Connecting us to our tropical waters are some of the most diverse mangrove forests on Earth. More than a third of Australia’s mangroves can be found along our coastlines, rivers and estuaries. They protect our coast from erosion, storms and cyclones. They filter our waters, and provide vital nurseries for our fish stocks, including a Top End favourite, the barramundi. Studies have demonstrated that fish abundance is 25 times greater on reefs close to mangrove forests than reefs where mangroves have been destroyed.

Extensive seagrass beds stretch along our shallow coastline and into the Gulf country. These meadows act as filters and stabilise our coasts, while supporting abundant sea life, from grazing sea turtles and dugongs to commercially important prawns.

Vast sandy beaches meet clear tropical waters, teeming with corals. Our coral reefs in Darwin Harbour, the Cobourg Peninsula and along the Arnhem coast are full of popular reef fish such as snapper and grouper. Coral reefs support a quarter of all marine species, including our own northern anemone clownfish.

Sawfish Australia


While our coasts are mostly in good shape, they are under threat. TAKE ACTION now, learn more of THE PROBLEMS, or scroll through more of what's special below.

VIDEOS