The boundaries of the North (Sydney) Harbour Aquatic Reserve are formed by a line between the headlands at North Head and Grotto Point and a line joining Little Manly Point, Manly Point, and Forty Baskets Beach. The reserve extends from the seabed at these outer boundaries up to the mean high water mark between them and covers an area of approximately 260 hectares.
The intertidal rock pools provide homes for many invertebrates, including anemones, worms, sponges, shrimps, crabs and molluscs.
Sheltered bays and inlets provide seagrass and algal habitats for species including seahorses and sea dragons. In summer, tropical fish are a common sight, carried from the Great Barrier Reef by the East Australian Current.
The rocky reefs and kelp are also home to both invertebrates and fish.
What you can do in the reserve
Within the reserve, you can line fish for fish that have fins only.
Licensed commercial fishers are also permitted to set lobster pots and beach hauling is restricted to an area north of Cannae Point and east of a line from Cannae Point to Manly Point and is only permitted on weekdays.
Besides these activities, the collection or disturbance of marine life or habitat is prohibited, including collecting shellfish, pumping for worms, spearfishing and collecting dead or empty shells.
The area was commonly used by local Aborigines to gather oysters, mussels, cockles and other smaller shellfish from the rocky foreshores.
Following the formation of the new Colony of Sydney in 1788, the area was used as Australia's first Quarantine Station. In the 1830s the Station's superintendent collected some of the colony's earliest marine specimens from what is now the aquatic reserve.
The aquatic reserve was declared on March 26, 1982.