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12 - Radar Reef - West End Demersal Zone

Radar Reef - West End Demersal Zone

The West End Demersal Zone comprises an area along the coastal waters from Cape Vlamingh to Cathedral Rocks. It’s designed to protect marine species that live and feed on or near the bottom of the ocean.


This means that people can fish from the shore with a rod or hand-held line from the Radar Reef platform or from boats for pelagic fish (fish that swim in the middle or near the surface of the ocean).


E.P. Hodgkin and K. Sheard have been credited to naming this area Radar Reef, after publishing a map of Rottnest Island in their journal article titled “Rottnest Island: The Rottnest Biological Station and Recent Scientific Research” (1959, p.96).


Radar Reef

Not surprisingly, Radar Hill in the West end area is in close proximity to Cape Vlamingh, where a Radar Direction Frequency (radar station) was located during World War 2. Known as 'Station 0, Codename Flame', it subsequently led to the Hill’s name.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater

Wedge-tailed Shearwaters

Whilst looking around at the sand dunes, which have been directly impacted by erosions caused from strong winds over the past 40 or so years, I noticed many burrows in the sand. I’d seen many of them all over the island since I started documenting it but never so close to cliffs or the water’s edge, particularly in areas that weren’t thick with vegetation.

I can’t recall why but I stumbled on some information mentioning the Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, a “pelagic, burrow-nesting seabird that breads on tropical and sub-tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean islands” burrowing nests on Rottnest Island. Prior to this, I had no reason to suspect the burrows here were the home of anything else but quokkas (and perhaps dugites!).


Being migratory birds, they fly over to Rottnest for late-winter breeding, usually sometime towards the end of August. Laying a single egg around late November to early December, it tends to hatch late January. By April, they fly off to migrate until it all happens again.

In saying this, these burrows could still belong to quokkas or since taken over by dugites and King’s Skinks.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater
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