The Crested Tern feeds mainly on small fish swimming close to the surface, plunging downwards into the water to grab the fish behind the head. Often fishermen will use flocks of feeding terms as a gauge to locate shoals of fish.
Around the backside of the island on the West Beach, you will see a small gathering of Crested Tern. These are the second largest of the terns which are found in Australia and one of the most commonly seen species however they don’t usually breed on these islands.
The limestone caves around the island take on wonderful shapes with natural archways and bridges. They can however be potentially dangerous. There are warnings that the formations maybe unstable due to the weathering and wave action. The overhangs, cliffs and caves are prone to collapse so you should take care when exploring these areas.
West beach is found on the backside of the island and less sheltered. Fossilised trunks and roots of a once grand tuart forest can be seen around this area, just south of the northern walk trail. The tuart forests have now been replaced with small thickets of berry saltbush, spinifex and sea spinach.
There are some good examples of Aeolian bedding along the west beach southwards from the northern walkway exit to the rocky foreshore of the southwestern
Penguin Island is a limestone plateau and today you will mainly see it covered with sand dunes and thickets. Once the island was covered with a Tuart Forrest, this was before the sea level rose some 10,000 years ago and the islands became part of the mainland. The sand dunes which covered the area were rich in lime from shell fragments however rainwater leaching through the sand partially dissolved the lime and cemented the sand below producing a base rock of limestone.
Penguins which nest on the mainland have declined over the years due to foxes and cats. Most colonies are now on offshore islands. The birds come ashore on Penguin Island an hour or two after sunset and they gather in small groups (or rafts as they are called) just off the beach, drawn together by their barking calls. They will then cross en masse. During reproduction they generally return each year to their natal colony to breed and often to the same burrow.
These little penguins usually live for around 10 years although some can survive up to 20 years. At sea, penguins are vulnerable to the wastes of human such as fishing lines, plastic items which have been discarded, and oil pollutions and about 15 percent of adults die each year. Of course one of their biggest concerns are sharks.
Little penguins are also known as Fairy Penguins, Little Blue Penguins, Northern or Southern Blue Penguins and are found on the southern coastline of Australia to northern New South Wales, mainly on offshore islands. The largest colony known is at Philip Island in Victora. They are the smallest of penguins with only being around 40cm (16 inches) tall and weighing around 1.1kg (2.4 lbs).
This is a small facility which provides an environment similar to the Little Penguins natural habitat so that visitors can get up close and person and learn through a commentated feeding session which is held at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm every day during the open season. The facility is also home to rescued and rehabilitated penguins.
In Nyoongar folklore, a Nyoongar elder used to sit at the edge of the water on the island and chant to the dolphins. The dolphins would apparently come to him and get so excited by his presence that they would chase the then prolific schools of fish at such high speed that they would cause some of the fish to leap out of the water onto the beach in masses. The old man would collect the fish he needed and return the remainder to the water and thank his dolphins friends.
In Aboriginal Dreamtime, spirit children were placed in special landscape features. When the sea level rose, this reportedly trapped the spirit children in these special places. The children are suppose to attach themselves to young whales (‘mammang’) and dolphins (‘kila’) and when a whale is found stranded on the beach, it is believed that it is the spirit of the spirit child returning home.
The Aboriginal tribe of the Nyoongar people have traditionally had a significant regard for the Perth coast. Their belief is that when a clan member dies the body is buried in the nearest coastal dunes or ‘Dreaming trail’. When the sea level began to rise some 10,000 years ago and flooded the coastal plain, the islands were isolated and now the graves of early Nyoongar ancestors lie beneath the waves. The Nyoongar believe that the Silver Gull represents the spirits of the dead and as the seabirds fly between the islands and the mainland each day, they maintain the spiritual link between the Nyoongars buried on the mainland and those who lie beneath the ocean. The word Wardarn means the Ocean.
Shoalwater Bay is home to the Shoalwater Island Marine park . This area encompasses numerous small islands which are important seabird breeding and roosting areas. There are some 50 bird species living on the island which rarely venture the short flight across to the mainland. Migratory birds also use the islands for resting, feeding and roosting. For the diver, you will find spectacular submerged reefs and shipwrecks.
One of the tiny islands between Penguin Island and Seal Island is Shag Rock... basically what it say, its more a rock. The Pied Cormorant can be seen pearched on the craggy outface.