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Perth s special underwater sanctuary
The West Australian

"I reckon it's probably one of the most special places in Perth," Department of Environment and Conservation marine ranger Sean Emmett said as he looked towards the Shoalwater Islands.

"On a windless day it's paradise, especially under the water."

It is easy to see why the ranger is so taken by the 6658ha marine park.

The islands, just 50km south of Perth, are teeming with wildlife, with bottlenose dolphins diving through the shallows, sea lions sleeping on the beaches and hundreds of seabirds flying above.

On Seal Island, massive bull sea lions "haul out" on to the beach and roll around and nap on the sand.

The area is a kind of bachelor hangout, where the male animals spend most of their time before heading north to Jurien Bay, where the female and juveniles live, to breed every 18 months.

Mr Emmett said on a good day there might be 20 or 30 sea lions on Seal Island, which is surrounded by a sanctuary zone.

But if the animals are bitten by sharks or injured, they often haul out on Penguin Island, the only island in the marine park where public access is allowed.

Anyone who comes across a distressed marine animal is asked not to bother them or try to push them back into the water but to call DEC's Wildcare helpline on 9474 9055.