The Shoalwater Islands Marine Park is located 50 kilometres south of Perth, adjacent to the City of Rockingham and covers an area of approximately 6658 hectares. The park starts in the south at Point Becher, it extends approximately 3 kilometres offshore and encompasses the chain of limestone rocks and islands (including Penguin Island) that runs parallel with the coastline. It contains the waters of Shoalwater Bay, Warnbro Sound and a small southern section of Cockburn Sound. The northern boundary of the park is located just north of Cape Peron.
The marine park contains a rich diversity and abundance of both marine and terrestrial wildlife. The islands of Shoalwater Bay abound with seabirds, many of which are seldom seen on the mainland. They are important seabird breeding sites. Sixteen species use the islands for courtship, nesting, feeding and roosting. Little penguins breed in burrows on Penguin Island- this colony has been given the highest conservation status of all penguin colonies in Australia. There are also breeding colonies within the Marine Park of silver gulls, fairy terns, bridled terns and Caspian terns. Crested terns are commonly seen, but don't usually breed on the islands.
The cavernous reefs surrounding the islands provide good snorkelling and diving. The reef areas support a variety of temperate and subtropical invertebrates including sea stars, urchins and molluscs as well as a number of fish species. Bottlenose dolphins are extremely common in the park's waters.
A colony of Australian sea lions haul out on Seal Island for most of the year and often fish and swim in nearby waters. The Australian sea lion is the rarest in the world and the species is given special protection under State legislation.
Extensive areas of the sea floor are dominated by seagrass. These areas are important in the life cycle of many fish, since they provide a nursery habitat for juveniles of an array of fish. The seagrass beds also help stabilise the sandy floor.
The Department of Conservation and Environment is responsible for the overall management of marine parks in WA including the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park which was officially gazetted as an A class reserve on the 25th of may 1990. The park is managed in accordance with the Shoalwater Islands Management Plan 1992- 2002. This has recently undergone a review process which resulted in the release of the 2007- 2017 Shoalwater Islands Management Plan, the overall vision of which is
" In the year 2017, the marine flora and fauna, habitats and water quality of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park will be in the same or better condition than in the year 2007. The area will support and encourage public use and enjoyment and will be considered to be an important social and cultural asset to the local community and public of Western Australia. "
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