Phillip Island has a unique ecosystem that is teeming with wildlife that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Melbourne on the Move offers a bus charter from Melbourne to Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade, as well as several day tours that encompass some of the other, lesser known wildlife attractions on the island. In this article, we celebrate the stunning flora and fauna of the island by taking a look at four of it’s unique inhabitants.
Without a doubt Phillip Island’s most famous wildlife attraction, the tiny blue and white fairy penguins draw thousands of onlookers every year who come to watch them ‘parade’ up Summerland Beach at nightfall. The smallest of the penguin species, fairy penguins are known for their ability to ‘fly’ underwater when hunting for their prey. Phillip Island is home to some 32,000 breeding pairs and plays an important role in both international penguin research and conservation.
Australian fur seals
Phillip Island is also home to Australia’s largest fur seal colony and a visit to The Seal Rocks Sea Life Centre is a great way to learn about these playful creatures and catch a glimpse of the Seal Rock colony through a telescope. Australian fur seals are the largest of the fur seal species with adult males weighing up to 360 kilograms. During the 19th century, the seals were heavily hunted for their fur and the national population was thought to have dropped from hundreds of thousands to a mere 20,000. However, Australian fur seals are now a protected species and the population has successfully recovered.
Also known as mutton birds, shearwaters are one of the few migratory birds that come to Australia to breed, and Phillip Island is the key breeding site in Victoria. With a wingspan of one metre, these impressive birds can often be seen between September and April out at sea skimming across the water at up to 85km per hour. shearwaters can also dive up to 50 metres deep when fishing for food. Impressively, the migratory path of these shearwaters includes Antarctica, New Zealand, Siberia, Alaska, South America and Japan.
Great white sharks
Arguably the Southern Ocean’s greatest predator, great white sharks are drawn to the cooler waters of the Bass Strait around Phillip Island due to the abundance of prey such as seals and penguins. Growing to lengths of up to six metres, great white sharks have a reputation as apex predators and play an important role in the marine ecosystem. Although no shark attacks have been recorded on Phillip Island for more than 25 years, great whites are frequently spotted in the area by helicopters and fishermen.