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Perth Wildlife Encounters

Perth Wildlife Encounters

Perth Wildlife Encounters has been offering the opportunity to swim with wild Bottlenose Dolphins across the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park since 1989. Terry Howson, a native of Rockingham, pursued his childhood dream of swimming with wild dolphins, dedicating a year to study the dolphins. After months of observation and interaction, Terry developed a dolphin swim project that offered a truly wild dolphin encounter, without feeding or disturbing their natural environment. 

As the reputation of Rockingham dolphins grew, Terry focused on improving and expanding the business and the organisation won several awards in the the ecotourism category of the Western Australian Tourism Awards and a National Ecotourism Award in 2004, leading to induction into the WA Tourism Hall of Fame. 

Boasting the only marine park reserve in an Australian capital city, the organisation has expanded its portfolio of ecotourism experiences. Operating the Penguin Island ferry service, organising wildlife walks on the island, alongside providing snorkelling experiences with wild Australian Sea-lions and Bottlenose Dolphins, all serve to illuminate the region's marine biodiversity while fostering a deeper appreciation for conservation endeavours.

The team led by owners Terry Howson and Chad D'Souza, take pride in curating immersive and unforgettable experiences, while upholding environmental stewardship for this critical conservation zone for life above and below the surface.

As part of our commitment to sustainability we have also sought independent verification of our practices through the ATAP Ecostar Accreditation programThis program is for operators that demonstrate a level of environmental management over and above the base requirements of ATAP including managing impact and disturbance on the environment, contributing to conservation and sustainability, establishing environmental risk management strategies, supporting and benefiting the local community and recognition of the cultural & heritage issues of the area. 

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Quick facts

  • Experience the only marine park in a capital city that showcases a myriad of wildlife above and below water
  • Prime spot for viewing Australian Sea-lions, Dolphins, Penguins, Seabirds and Rays
  • Visit Penguin Island which has been given the highest conservation status of all penguin colonies in Australia

About the region

Shoalwater Islands Marine Park

The Shoalwater Islands Marine Park is located off the coast of Western Australia, near the town of Rockingham, approximately 40 kilometres south of Perth.

Declared in 1990, the Marine Park encompasses over 6,600 hectares and stretches between Cape Peron and Becher Point. The reefs that run through the region are part of Australia's longest limestone reef system that stretches 450 kilometres (280 miles) from Geraldton to just north of Mandurah. These structures formed from sand and limestone deposits over millions of years, are an essential mechanism to protect the region's shorelines, with 90% of the energy from swells dissipated by the reefs.

Within the marine park are several islands including Seal Island, Shag Island, Bird Island and Penguin Island. These islands are critical breeding grounds for seabirds and home to colonies of Little Penguins, Australian Sea Lions and approximately 200 resident Bottlenose Dolphins.

Seagrass meadows are abundant in the marine park and contribute to the outstanding water quality and provision of habitat and food for marine mammals, fish and marine invertebrates. Above the water, vegetation on the islands includes beach spinifex, coastal pigface, coastal wattle and Moonah and Banksia species.

Penguin Island is designated as a conservation area, highlighting its importance for wildlife conservation. The island's protected status helps safeguard its diverse habitats and the species that rely on them, including the Little Penguins, seabirds, marine mammals, and more. Conservation efforts in partnership with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation & Attractions (DCBA), aim to minimise human impact on the island while promoting environmental stewardship and education.

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