By: Tatum Stafford
The warm waters of Perth are home to some of the world's most incredible marine wildlife.
With dolphins, sea lions, penguins, tropical fish, turtles and many more species living off Perth's pristine shoreline, there are a range of locations that allow you to get closer to nature - and in summer, the chance to get your feet wet in the process.
Here are seven of Perth's best marine wildlife encounters.
1. Sea lions in Jurien Bay
Just over two hours north of Perth lies Jurien Bay, a quaint coastal town known for some of its furry marine inhabitants. The sea lions of Jurien Bay are playful, inquisitive and love an audience.
If you’d like to see them in action, tour boats can take you offshore to see and swim with them. The waters here are one of the main breeding grounds in WA for the Australian sea lion, which is also one of the world’s rarest species.
2. Dolphins in Rockingham
For an underwater encounter a little closer to home, head just 45 minutes south of Perth to Rockingham for a guided dolphin swim. There are more than 200 bottlenose dolphins in the waters off Rockingham and its offshore islands, which you can observe while snorkelling.
Dolphins are intelligent, social creatures that display some fascinating natural behaviours that you may be lucky enough to spot during your visit.
3. Penguins at Penguin Island
Penguin Island is a short cruise from Shoalwater Bay in Rockingham, and is home to the largest colony of little penguins on the WA coast. A 1.5km viewing boardwalk guides visitors around the island, but the shyer penguins are best seen at the Penguin Island Discovery Centre.
Keep an eye out for Kevin, the biggest, loudest penguin who is the star of the centre’s daily talks and feeding sessions.
4. Turtles, sea sponges and fish in Marmion
Just 20 minutes north of Perth, Marmion Marine Park is a snorkelling and diving area filled with caves, limestone reefs and spacious lagoons. Bottlenose dolphins and Australian sea lions can be spotted throughout the year in the park, but when snorkelling through the area’s caves and ledges you’re most likely to spot a variety of fish, sea sponges and green turtles.
If you’d prefer to watch from ashore, seabirds also flock to the area year-round, and are best viewed from Little Island or Burns Rocks.
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5. Tropical fish on Rottnest Island
Rottnest is home to a whopping 135 species of tropical fish. Protected by limestone reefs, its coastline is dotted with snorkel-friendly beaches and bays, including Little Parakeet Bay, The Basin, Mary Cove and Parker Point - which features its own snorkel trail.
The trail consists of a number of plaques with information about the area’s abundant flora and fauna, and is a great place to spot a large variety of the island’s fish population.
6. Sharks, stingrays and turtles in Hillarys
AQWA is the home of Australia’s largest single aquarium; a 3-million-litre shipwreck coast that welcomes guided dives and tours every day. Those aged 15 and over can plunge into the aquarium and come face to face with seven different species of sharks, loggerhead turtles, the world’s largest stingrays and schools of WA’s most precious fish.
For the younger kids, the aquarium’s moving conveyor belt will move you underneath the shipwreck coast tank and closer to the giant sharks, stingrays and turtles – without having to get your feet wet.
7. Dolphins in Mandurah
Mandurah, about an hour south of Perth, is home to one of Australia’s healthiest dolphin populations. As such, a Mandurah dolphin cruise is one of the region’s most popular attractions.
Hop aboard to discover the cheeky nature of these marine locals, as well as the town’s internationally-recognised wetlands, abundant birdlife and expansive estuary system.
Want a discount on your next ferry ride to Rottnest?
Members save on ferry trips with Rottnest Express, Rottnest Fast Ferries, and Sealink Rottnest Island.
Last updated: August 2021