Coastal mainland Australia and Tasmania.
Occupies islands, coastal bays and inlets, open beaches, lakes and large rivers. The Crested Tern feeds mainly on small surface fish that are between 5 to 8 cm long; these make up nearly 90% of prey. Other prey items include including insects, crustaceans and cephalopods.
Upon sighting prey from the air, an individual will plunge downward into the water and grab the fish behind the head. Crested Terns form small to large flocks, often with other species.