Ranger tips: Encounter Marine Park

Ranger tips: Encounter Marine Park

Get insid­er tips on the best places to vis­it and must-do activ­i­ties from Ranger Nik­ki Zanardo.

Stretch­ing from Adelaide’s beach­side sub­urb of Christies Beach to the mouth of the Riv­er Mur­ray and the Coorong, Encounter Marine Park pro­tects the diverse marine life of St Vin­cent Gulf, Back­stairs Pas­sage and Encounter Bay.

It’s also a great place to vis­it, with so much to do – like dip­ping your toes into the water at one of the beach­es, snorkelling and div­ing at spec­tac­u­lar reefs, surf­ing one of the many great breaks, see­ing the giants of the deep – south­ern right whales – on their win­ter migra­tion, or fish­ing from beach­es and jetties.

Want to expe­ri­ence it for your­self? We’ve asked Ranger Nik­ki Zanar­do for some tips for your next vis­it. Here’s what she had to say:

What’s the strangest thing you have ever seen washed up on the beach?

A leather back tur­tle. They do come to South Aus­tralian waters but they are clas­si­fied as a vul­ner­a­ble species so you don’t see them too often.

It was impres­sive to see a leatherback tur­tle up close and realise just how big they real­ly are. This one was just over 2 metres in length!

Where can you see a leafy sea dragon?

Off the old Rapid Bay Jet­ty at Rapid Bay. This spot is inter­na­tion­al­ly recog­nised as one of the best sites to see a leafy sea drag­on. You can enter the water from the steps at the end of the new con­crete jet­ty and swim across.

It’s pos­si­ble to snorkel and free dive to see these amaz­ing crea­tures, but you will have more luck of see­ing one if you go scu­ba diving.

There are also sev­er­al dive oper­a­tors that con­duct dive trips at this site, so if you are unfa­mil­iar with the area then it is rec­om­mend­ed that you dive with one of them, espe­cial­ly because the tides and cur­rents in this area can be quite strong and dan­ger­ous at times.

Anoth­er great spot to see leafy sea drag­ons is along the base of the Bluff (Roset­ta Head) in Encounter Bay.

Remem­ber, these mys­ti­cal sea crea­tures are nat­u­ral­ly cam­ou­flaged so you will need to look hard to spot one oth­er­wise you could eas­i­ly swim right past one!

Leafy sea dragon

While you are in the Vic­tor Har­bor area, why not go for a walk to Gran­ite Island Recre­ation Park and enjoy the south­ern ocean views?

You may be lucky enough to spot a whale or two as the height of Gran­ite Island pro­vides a won­der­ful view­ing platform.

Which is your favourite beach?

Sec­ond Val­ley. It may be small, but there is so much to see and do while you’re there. Swim, snorkel or dive, or spend a cou­ple of hours explor­ing the rock pools and see what you can find!

If you have a kayak, head for a pad­dle between Sec­ond Val­ley and Rapid Bay – one of my favourite bits of coastline. 

Where’s the best spot to go snorkelling or diving?

Encounter Marine Park has many great snorkelling and div­ing sites cater­ing for snorkel­ers and divers of any age or experience.

If you’re new to snorkelling or div­ing then sites like Port Noar­lun­ga are a great option.

You can begin from shore and snorkel around the small reef on the south side of the jet­ty. As you get more con­fi­dent, and if the weath­er is good, you can head along the jet­ty and snorkel/​dive off the main reef. If you’re feel­ing adven­tur­ous, take a dip off the back side of the out­er reef.

These sites will have you sur­round­ed by friend­ly fish and intro­duce you to a whole vari­ety of marine life.

Ranger tips: Encounter Marine Park

When and where is the best spot to see a whale?

South­ern right whale num­bers are at their peak dur­ing July and August. My favourite spot to see them is from the view­ing plat­form at Basham Beach.

Mums and their calves often spend a lot of time around this area, and it’s the per­fect spot to watch them as they can get quite close to the shore.

Top tip: Before you head out, check out the whale sight­ing log. And most impor­tant­ly, don’t for­get your binoculars!

Park of the Month

Through­out August, Marine Parks are being cel­e­brat­ed as the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice South Australia’s Park of the Month. There are lots of events and activ­i­ties to get involved in – check the web­site for all the details.

Main image: Ranger Nik­ki Zanardo

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living