It’s impossible to talk about Australia without mentioning its animals. While many people first think of koalas and kangaroos, there are other interesting species to see that live in the ocean.
With about 4000 fish species and a variety of whales, dolphins, penguins, and other saltwater creatures, the country is one of the most visited for diving experiences.
Whether you’re a local looking to explore your own backyard or a visitor from afar, you must visit one of these incredible locations to enjoy some of Australia’s best marine life. Most of them are close to big cities and you can easily find an organised tour to your liking.
Here are our recommendations:
1. Dive with great white sharks at Neptune Islands
Located in the vicinity of the famous Kangaroo Island in South Australia, Neptune Islands are home to one of the most feared sea predators, the great white shark. They come here in large numbers to feed on the fur seals living on the Eyre Peninsula of the islands.
Those brave to come face-to-face with a shark can step into the cage that is submerged into the water so you can safely view these creatures during a licensed tour.
If you are satisfied with seeing sharks from afar, you have other options. Take a boat ride to the seal and sea lion colonies, as the Neptune Islands territory is their breeding ground.
The region is also renowned for its variety of bird life so keep your binoculars close so you can spot Rock Parrots or White-bellied Sea Eagles.
2. Catch whale-watching season in Perth
If you want to see the giants of marine life, you should go whale-watching in Perth which offers two ideal seasons during the year.
The first season is from March to May when humpback whales come to Flinders Bay for mating. The second season is from August to December where you’ll see southern right whales – the mothers and calves of this endangered species come to the area for shelter.
You may be in luck to spot other whale species, like blue whales, the largest mammal on the planet that comes to Perth Canyon to feed.
Besides whales, you can go to Jurien Bay, just north of Perth, to swim with sea lions and to Rockingham to snorkel with bottlenose dolphins.
Marmion Marine Park is a great place to dive and snorkel, not only for caves and reefs but also to encounter green turtles, sea sponges, and a variety of fish. You can observe the largest western Australian colony of little penguins on Penguin Island during the walking tour on the boardwalk.
3. Snorkel with seals at Batemans Bay
Batemans Bay in New South Wales has a large park and sanctuary located on 85,000 hectares, from Murramarang Beach to Wallaga Lake.
One of the most popular activities here is snorkelling with the fur seals at Montague Island, off the coast of Narooma. This is also where you will encounter little penguins on Snapper Island whose numbers are thriving despite other colonies being in decline.
Divers commonly encounter dolphins, turtles, and grey nurse sharks, but the most fascinating is the wide variety of fish in the area. During summer, tropical fish come here with the warm current, turning every dive and snorkel experience into a colourful show.
The park is also nesting grounds for seabirds, like albatross, pied oystercatchers, and hooded plovers.
4. Hang out with Maori Wrasse fish at Hayman Island
Hayman Island is one of the most beautiful parts of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland where people come to relax in many of its resorts. However, being home to one of the most charming fish in the world is a good enough reason for some to come here.
Maori Wrasse is a friendly fish species with thick lips, a distinctive forehead, and a colourful body that likes to hang out with divers. Stop by Blue Pearl Bay to meet the most famous representatives of these interesting sea dwellers called Elvis and Priscilla.
If you want to participate in turtle conservation, visiting between January and March will have you helping just-hatched younglings to reach the sea safely. Another unique sight is spotting giant clams attached to the reef, some as heavy as 200kg (400 pounds).
Additionally, go to the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel and help the conservation effort to keep this enormous ecosystem alive. Turtles, crabs, and starfish are common sightings here, as are 1500 fish species, dugongs, and sharks.
5. Swim with dolphins at Mornington Peninsula
Only about an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula has a bustling marine life, some of which you can get up close and personal.
Namely, you can snorkel and swim with bottlenose dolphins on an organised tour or while on a private sailing trip.
Diving is popular here because of many underwater caves and cliffs that are occupied by a variety of fish, especially by the wreckage of WWI submarines.
However, dolphins are not the only marine life you can swim with. Stingrays, squid, rag-pickers, cuttlefish, and seahorses will enjoy your company at the Port Phillip Heads Marine Park.
They don’t call seals dogs of the sea for nothing and you can spot these cheeky creatures while diving at the Pope’s Eye.
Experience incredible marine life in Australia
Everything has to start from somewhere and these five best locations to enjoy amazing Australian marine life are ideal to meet and greet sea creatures.
Sometimes you can get close, like with dolphins and seals, or you can keep a respectable distance for conservation purposes, like with penguins.
The most extraordinary thing that can happen is kissing a whale during a watching tour or hanging out with funny-looking Maori Wrasse.
But one thing is certain, Australian marine life will give you a lifetime of wonderful memories and probably see you return for more.