An aerial image of Penguin Island
An aerial image of Penguin Island

On the 26 August 2022 the Minister for Environment announced immediate steps to protect vulnerable little penguins at Penguin Island, following a concerning decline in their population, which included:

  • ­    When the forecast maximum temperature for Penguin Island is 35 degrees or higher, the island will be closed.

  •     The current annual winter seasonal closure of Penguin Island will be extended by at least four weeks to accommodate a prolonged breeding season, which has been extending later each year.

  • ­    Hot weather management to keep penguin’s cooler, additional water sources, increased signage, and restricted access zones;

  • ­    Increased monitoring of eight knot speed limit zones around Penguin Island and Shoalwater Bay; and

  • ­    Increased weed management and rehabilitation efforts to maximise the native vegetation habitat for penguins.

Following the Minister’s announcement, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) has been working with commercial tour operators that visit the island to coordinate and manage tours to the Penguin Island Discovery Centre during the extended closure period between 15 September to 14 October 2022, when the island will reopen to the public.  

The option of having the Discovery Centre open for tours while the rest of the island remains closed during this extended closure period is consistent with the decision made by the State Government.

Visitors on these tours to the Discovery Centre will be restricted to the beach immediately in front of the lawn area, the adjacent stairs the lawned area and the toilets.  The movement of visitors outside this area will not be permitted during the extended closure period due to penguin nesting activity still occurring north of the toilets. 

Additionally, both the north and south boardwalks will remain closed due to pelicans that have established breeding sites on the north and south of the island next to boardwalks and viewing platforms.  This aligns with every other season when these areas are closed to the public due to seabirds nesting close to the boardwalks and lookouts.

Visitors arriving via ferry will generally have a 45 minute tour, including 25 minutes in the Discovery Centre and those on a sea kayak tour will be provided with additional time to rehydrate on the lawned areas before the return paddle with a maximum time of 1 hour on the island.  

The educational and interpretive talk provided by DBCA staff within the Discovery Centre will include information about the extended closure and the reasons behind this extension.  

Tours groups will access the island between 10.00am and 3.00pm to avoid peak penguin and seabird activity being in the mornings, late afternoon and evenings. 

DBCA is continuing to work with commercial tour operators and external researchers in regard to the approach of when the forecast maximum temperature for Penguin Island is 35 degrees or higher and the island will be closed.

DBCA will keep you informed as planning on this action and other initiatives to continue to support and protect little penguins are implemented throughout the 2022-23 summer.

Page reviewed 20 Oct 2022