Penguin Island (Western Australia)

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Penguin Island ferry
Penguin Island is located in Indian Ocean
Penguin Island
Penguin Island
Location of Penguin Island (Western Australia)

Penguin Island (32°18′19″S 115°41′28″E / 32.30528°S 115.69111°E / -32.30528; 115.69111Coordinates: 32°18′19″S 115°41′28″E / 32.30528°S 115.69111°E / -32.30528; 115.69111) is a 12.5 ha island off the coast near Perth, Western Australia, 700 m from Rockingham. It is home to a colony of little penguins, the largest population of the birds in Western Australia. The waters surrounding the island make up the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. (Download a map from here).

Regular ferries carry tourists to and from the island and other marine-park sights. Access is also available by private boat or by swimming. Walking across a tidal sandbar at low tide is not advisable. At high tide and in strong winds this can be very hazardous, especially for weak swimmers, and has resulted in several drownings.[1] Visitors should take their own supply of food and drink, since none can be purchased on Penguin Island, though there is a picnic area with seating. Waterless composting toilets are in use there.

Visitors are strictly prohibited from being on the island except during specified daylight hours from mid-September to early June. This means that only a small population of captive penguins can be viewed. However, there are many other sights including nesting seabirds and a 500-strong colony of pelicans.

Penguin Island has many geographical features, such as cliffs, small sea caves, headlands, beaches, coves, notches and natural bridges. There are also numerous wave-cut platforms.

Significant areas of Penguin Island include North Rock, Pelican Bluff, North Beach, McKenzies Well, South Beach, Abalone Point, and Surfers Beach.

There are numerous lookouts and walkways throughout most of the island. Some areas are fenced off to the public to protect wildlife and lessen dune erosion.

Little penguin population[edit]

The little penguin population which breeds on Penguin Island is genetically distinct and in decline. In 2007 there were between 1600 and 2000 little penguins on Penguin Island during breeding months. By 2011, the number had dropped to about 1000. Penguins have been observed taking longer foraging trips leading to chick malnutrition and starvation. Prey depletion and climate change are considered to be major pressures on the breeding population. A proposal to construct a marina at Point Peron is also considered a future threat. A number of rescued penguins are kept in a dedicated enclosure for visitors to the island to observe.[2]

Little penguins also breed on nearby Garden Island, 6.5 km to the north. The two colonies are considered as a single meta-population. In 2007, the meta-population was estimated to include a total of 2369 individuals.[3]

Historically, the penguins of Penguin Island have been victims of dog attacks[4] and shooting by holiday-makers.[5] An informal assessment of the Penguin Island colony was made by Vincent Serventy in 1946. After several visits, he estimated the colony to number approximately 500 pairs.[6] In the 1940s concern was expressed for the viability of the penguin colony on Penguin Island, due to combined threats of human landing parties with guns and dogs, occasional fires, and an abundance of rabbits which were denuding the island of its former vegetation and accelerating its erosion. Rabbits were believed to have been introduced to the island in the 1920s, and numbered approximately four to five thousand in the late 1940s.[7] By 1950, it had become an illegal act to take a dog to Penguin Island.[4]

Penguins were present on Penguin Island in the 1900s,[8] 1910s and 1920s.[9][10][11] Seals were also known to haul out on the island around this time.[12]

Image gallery[edit]


  1. ^ Two drown as sandbar warning is ignored The Australian/AAP 29 December 2010
  2. ^ Moodle, Claire (2014-09-22). "Saving the penguins". ABC. Retrieved 2014-11-10. 
  3. ^ Cannell, Belinda (2012-03-05). "Grim reaper cuts swathes through the Little Penguins of Perth". The Conversation. Retrieved 2014-11-10. 
  4. ^ a b Serventy, Vincent (1950-12-14). "Fairies of the islands". Western Mail. Retrieved 2014-12-07. 
  5. ^ Green, Wallace (1918-02-21). "Destruction of penguins". The West Australian. Retrieved 2014-11-11. 
  6. ^ Serventy, Vincent (1946-01-31). "Haunt of Fairy Penguin". Retrieved 2014-12-07. 
  7. ^ "Penguins Of Penguin Island". South Western Advertiser. 1948-03-05. p. 5. Retrieved 2015-08-21. 
  8. ^ "Search: Scientific name:%22Eudyptula%20minor%22 - within 1.0 km of point(-32.30577,115.69015) | Occurrence records | Atlas of Living Australia". Atlas of Living Australia. Retrieved 2015-08-21. 
  9. ^ "PENGUIN ISLAND.". Western Mail. 1924-10-23. p. 29. Retrieved 2015-08-21. 
  10. ^ "PENGUIN ISLAND A Visitor's Comments". Sunday Times. 1926-03-07. pp. 12 S. Retrieved 2015-08-21. 
  11. ^ "DESTRUCTION OF PENGUINS. To the Editor.". The West Australian. 1918-03-07. p. 6. Retrieved 2015-08-21. 
  12. ^ "Seal caught on Penguin Island". Western Mail. 1917-05-11. p. 28. Retrieved 2015-08-21. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Crane, Kevin, Carolyn Thomson and Peter Dans. Discovering Penguin Island and the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Como, W.A. Dept. of Conservation and Land Management, 1995. ISBN 0-7309-6971-1

External links[edit]