Pitt Water Orielton Lagoon Ramsar Site

Pitt Water and Orielton LagoonPied oystercatcher (Photo: Alan Fletcher)

Pitt Water – Orielton Lagoon is a wetland of international significance, recognised as both a Tasmanian Nature Reserve and an international Ramsar site.
The wetland is bordered by the rural surrounds of Cambridge, Richmond, Penna and Orielton, whilst the townships of Midway Point and Sorell are adjacent to the wetland.

Resident birds

The wetland system provides year-round habitat for many resident Tasmanian shorebirds (including Australian Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers and Red-capped Plover) and seabirds (including Caspian tern and Silver, Kelp and Pacific Gulls).
Pied oystercatcher (Photo: Alan Fletcher)

Red capped plover, male (Photo: Alan Fletcher)
Red capped plover, male (Photo: Alan Fletcher)

Caspian tern (Photo: Alan Fletcher)
Caspian tern (Photo: Alan Fletcher)

Migratory shorebirds

Migratory shorebirds escape the harsh northern winter in the Arctic to feed and rest in Australia and New Zealand. Pitt Water-Orielton Lagoon forms part of the critical feeding and roosting area for these birds migrating from the northern hemisphere on the East Asian-Australasian flyway. Birds on the flyway make an annual migration of over 25,000 kilometres, some flying for more than 10,000 kilometres non-stop! The area is part of the major summer feeding grounds for these migratory shorebirds in Tasmania and the most southern in Australia. Annual visitors such as the Eastern curlew, Bar-tailed godwit and red-necked stint can often be seen foraging on the mud and sand flats during the summer months alongside the causeway.

Eastern curlew
Eastern curlew (Photo: Alan Fletcher)

Bar-tailed godwit
Bar-tailed godwit (Photo: Alan Fletcher)

Red-necked stints
Red-necked stints (Photo: Alan Fletcher)


Rare species

The wetland is home to a number of threatened birds, animals and plants including some rather, unusual and unique species, many of which are listed under our National and State threatened species legislation. It is also an important estuarine ecosystem for marine life, and commercial ventures such as oyster farming. The area is an important shark nursery for both gummy and school shark, is home to the rare live-bearing seastar Parvulastra vivpara and supports some of the most significant salt marshes in Tasmania. These saltmarshes and surrounds are home to threatened plants such as Lemon beauty heads, New Holland daisies, yellow sea lavender and silky wilsonia.

Lemon beauty heads
Lemon beauty heads (Photo DPIPWE)

Sorell Rivulet saltmarshes
Sorell Rivulet saltmarshes (Photo: Sandy Leighton)

Disphyma crassifolium
Disphyma crassifolium (Photo: Vishnu Prahalad)

Sarcocornia quinqueflora
Sarcocornia quinqueflora (Photo: Sandy Leighton)

Aboriginal heritage

The area was traditionally used by the Oyster Bay Tribe who occupied both coastal and inland territory and used the coastal areas to collect shellfish and other marine foods.


Wetlands are among the Earth’s most significant life support systems providing shelter and food for many aquatic plants and animals.

The water quality of the wetland and the animals and plants that depend upon it are at risk from contaminates from storm-water runoff from homes and roads. Shorebirds are under threat from loss of coastal vegetation and disturbance from people, dogs and motorbikes. Eggs and chicks of shorebirds are at risk to predation from dogs and cats, and from trampling by people or crushing from bikes and vehicles. If parent birds are disturbed and leave their nest, their eggs or chicks will die from heat exposure in a very short time.

Dumped garden waste

Dumped Rubbish and Boxthorn infestations along sections of the foreshore

There are many organisations working in collaboration to improve the condition of the area and ensure its longevity. Recent actions have included:

  • Restoring habitat
  • Protecting shorebirds
  • Stormwater management and sewage treatment
  • Research and planning
  • Raising awareness of international, national and State values

There is much more than can be done and everyone can play a part. To find out more information or how you can get involved please contact one of the following organisations:

Sorell Council
NRM Facilitator
03 6269 0000

Parks and Wildlife Service
Southern Region, Seven Mile Beach Office
03 6214 8100

Birds Tasmania
GPO Box 68 Hobart TAS 7001
0419 138 054

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

The Pitt Water – Orielton Lagoon Ramsar site is one of 10 Ramsar wetlands in Tasmania, and is the only one located in an urban area.
The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides a framework for international cooperation for conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.

The Ramsar Convention is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem. The treaty was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and the Convention’s member countries cover all geographic regions of the planet.

Pitt Water Nature Reserve Management Plan

The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service launched the Pitt Water Nature Reserve Management Plan on 10 May 2013. This plan guides the management of the reserve and aims to ensure the long term viability and protection of the natural values, including habitat for migratory birds from the Northern Hemisphere. The reserve forms part of the Pitt Water – Orielton Lagoon Ramsar site. The plan not only provides policies and actions for Parks and Wildlife Service to undertake, but also proposes developing closer liaison with local Councils, including Sorell and Clarence, and community members to promote better environmental management of these natural areas.
You can read more about the plan and access a copy from Parks and Wildlife Service website here:
There are also information boards in various location around the area: