There is a growing body of evidence that suggests the effective functioning of marine reserves is dependent on the dispersal and recruitment of larvae. Enhanced production inside reserves is predicted to lead to a net larval export and increased settlement and recruitment outside reserve boundaries. However, larval retention in bays is also well documented. Since bays are increasingly being used as reserve areas, planktonic larvae of benthic marine invertebrates were sampled from two semi-enclosed marine reserves during flood and ebb tides to determine whether these bays are acting as net exporters of larvae. Neither reserve was a net importer or exporter of species richness, larval abundance or diversity, although one reserve showed a small export of species richness during the hours of darkness. Both reserves balanced the net import of some species with a net export of others, which was generally related to adult or larval abundance, although exceptions were found in one reserve. Significant effects of light were found, with the net import or export of some species occurring exclusively during either the hours of daylight or darkness. An increased understanding of larval sink-source dynamics in bays is essential for ensuring their effective use as marine reserves to meet specific conservation needs.