The sun beats down on the gravel car park, it is hot and even the slightest of movement unsettles dust underfoot. One hand is used to shield your eyes as beams of light ricochet from the lined up cars, the ocean and its horizon awaits in the distance. Sorrento back beach is a natural amphitheatre. The etymology of amphitheatre is the ancient Greek word amphitheatron. Amphi meaning ‘on both sides’ and theatron meaning ‘place for viewing’.
The anticipation of diving in to the cool blue waters of Sorrento ocean beach begins with our view from above. Gazing out across the rocky outcrop, the reflective sand is scattered with people basking in the sun, colours and forms shifting upon the landscape. The ocean waters are punctuated by enchanting rock pools. For many of us rock pools are places to be observed, small underwater worlds occupied by starfish, crabs and small fish; continually changing with the moving tides.
Sorrento’s rock pools are large enough to swim in, at low tide one can position themselves by the pools edge and take the plunge, diving in to the cool waters. It is said that the deeper a rock pool is, the greater the diversity of species that may be found within it. The creatures that live in rock pools are best left undisturbed, some do not respond so kindly when interrupted.
Rockpools are commonly described as a ‘temperate phenomenom’. At high tide rock pools become part of the sea floor. At low tide they become sealed off temporary ecosystems. Rock pools experience harsh conditions; the water temperature can alter by up to 10 degrees celsius. Rock pools have a similar ecosystem to what we experience on land. Underwater forests made up of seaweeds and algae provide shade for organisms from the harsh Australian sun as well as turning carbon dioxide to oxygen, keeping pools oxygenated at low tide.
As the tide rises and a rock pool empties itself of human visitors it again becomes an untouchable world below the ocean.
Bend of Isles acknowledge the Bunurong / BoonWurrung people as the traditional custodians of the Mornington Peninsula and their continuing connection to land, waterways and community.
Sullivan.R 2011, A world in a rock pool, viewed 27 September 2020, <https://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/09/25/2373397.htm>.
Pike.A 2019, Portals of life: exploring the ecology of Australia’s rock pools, viewed 28 September 2020, <https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2019/08/portals-of-life-exploring-the-ecology-australias-rock-pools/>.
Rose Stereograph Co 1947, A birds eye view of rock pool, Sorrento, VIC, accessed 27 September 2020, <https://viewer.slv.vic.gov.au/?entity=IE1378948&mode=browse>.