Port Lincoln is at the mouth of Spencer Gulf in South Australia. Spencer Gulf opens into the Southern Ocean, with the next land mass to the south being Antarctica.
The climate is dry and temperate, with average summer (Dec-Feb) temperatures ranging from 25°C - 29°C (77°F-84°F) and winter (Jun-Aug) temperatures from 15°C - 18°C (59°F-64°F). Rainfall at Port Lincoln is about 490mm (19") per year. Sea temperatures are usually between 13°C - 22°C (57°F-72°F).
There are many islands, bays, estuaries, rocky reefs, seagrass beds and high and low-energy shores scattered throughout the region, along with some magnificent national parks and marine reserves. These include the renowned Sir Joseph Banks group of islands. We are located at the eastern end of the Great Australian Bight, which hosts a yearly 'invasion' of 50 or more Southern Right Whales.
A short boat trip will take you into the Gulf and out to open ocean waters; so in short, a wide range of fascinating ecologies and interesting, unique and picturesque environments can be found. Water quality throughout the region is generally excellent, with abundant and remarkably diverse marine life.
Southern Australia is the longest stretch of east-west coastline in the world, and a large proportion of the marine species (70-80%) re endemic to the region. Just to the north of Pt Lincoln is Tumby Bay, one of a small number of places in Australia where the spectacular Leafy Seadragon can be found, although given its remarkable camouflage, it is very difficult to spot. Tumby Bay also has a protected estuarine area of mangroves, completing the range of environments in easy reach of the centre.
Various aquaculture and fishing industries are found around the Eyre Peninsula, including tuna fishing & farming, prawn fishing, abalone fishing & farming, rock lobster fishing and oyster farming. Research is undertaken to develop additional farm-based industries, such as finfish, mussels, algae, scallops, and rock lobster.
Fish, sharks and rays
This region is renowned for its recreational fishing, and with increasing areas of national park and marine reserves along with the 'catch and release' attitude of many anglers and clubs, the conservation of this rich environment is a high priority. Fish species include:
- Southern Bluefin Tuna
- King George whiting
- Australian salmon
- Mackerel ('tommy ruff')
Then there are more unusual species like the beautiful leafy seadragon, Phycodurus eques. The leafy seadragon is closely related to the seahorse, and is a member of the pipefish family.
There are also many varieties of sharks and rays - many of the bays have a high population of rays and skates, along with the relatively harmless bottom-feeding Port Jackson shark. Deeper waters are home to mako, hammerhead, school, thresher and gummy sharks. The region is also renowned as one of the best locations in the world to encounter the formidable Great White, or white pointer, shark (Carcharodon carcharias), which grows to over 5m. The Great White, which like most sharks has a very slow reproductive cycle and has been victim to some fishing and aquaculture practices, is now a protected species.
Bottle-nosed (Tursiops truncatus) and common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) in the waters around Port Lincoln, in fact pods of up to 30 dolphins frequently pass by the front of the LMSC. Boats cruising around Boston Bay and surrounds are often accompanied by these playful mammals, surfing in the bow waves.
Southern Right Whales (Balaena glacialis australis) often visit the region on their way to an area called the 'Head of the Bight', to the northwest of Pt Lincoln. Between June and October the whales congregate in this area to give birth to their calves and breed. Over 50 whales may be seen from the spectacular cliffs at the Head of the Bight between these periods, some very close inshore, lazing or frolicking at the base of the cliffs or off the pristine beaches at the eastern end of the Nullarbor Plain.
Sea Lions congregate in colonies on the offshore islands, and the only mainland permanent colony of sea lions in Australia can be found to the northwest of Pt Lincoln at Point Labatt. Commonly seen in Boston Bay, many sea lions also live on the Sir Joseph Banks Group of islands, an area now designated as a marine conservation park just 30km east of Pt Lincoln. This area is renowned for scenic scuba-diving, although it is not difficult to find excellent diving spots throughout the entire region.
Sea lions and fur seals may be found at Cape Wiles in 'Whaler's Way', just south of Pt Lincoln. Male Australian sea lions look quite different to females - the male is usually dark brown, with a light brown 'mane', while the female has a light-grey back and cream coloured belly.
Birdlife is prolific in the region. Keen birdwatchers will find fairy penguins, pelicans, several species of cormorants, sea eagles, ospreys, oyster catchers, Pacific and silver gulls, sandpipers, dotterels, terns, Cape Barren geese, swans, along with many other species inhabiting the mainland, islands, rocky points, and estuaries.