Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park
|Spanning the Northern Spencer Gulf waters from Port Pirie to Whyalla and up to Port Augusta, between the Flinders Ranges and the great expanse of the Eyre Peninsula. The sheltered waters of the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park are best known for its internationally recognised breeding area for the Giant Australian Cuttlefish. The park also includes wetlands of national importance and is home to a vital nursery area for a large range of fish and crustaceans. Providing plenty of opportunities to enjoy the diverse marine life including cuttlefish, dolphins, whales, migratory and resident shorebirds, waterbirds and fish species. |
Divers and snorkelers alike shouldn't miss the amazing display of the cuttlefish between May and August as the species change colour and patterns to try to impress their potential mate.
Fishing is very popular within the park and can be undertaken on jetties and most beaches. These fertile seas also make fishing a popular activity, with King George whiting, garfish and prawns, as well as blue swimmer crab the catches synonymous with the region.
However fishing is prohibited in sanctuary zones. Sanctuary zones are the core conservation areas, created in key locations such as Cuttlefish Coast and Yalata Harbour. Sanctuary zones protect all animals and plants from harm, helping visitors to ‘sea life naturally’.
Main image credit: Carl Charter
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Visitor Information and Park Management:
National Parks and Wildlife Service Port Lincoln Office (for Eyre Peninsula/Whyalla portion of the marine park)
Phone: (+61 8) 8688 3111
National Parks and Wildlife Service Clare Office (Yorke Peninsula and Mid North/Port Augusta & Port Pirie portion)
Phone: (+61 8) 8841 3400
Medical, fire (including bushfire) and police emergency situations
Phone: Triple Zero (000)
Phone: 131 444 for non-urgent police assistance
National Parks and Wildlife Service SA – After-hours duty officer
Phone: 08 8688 3223 (Eyre Peninsula) or 0417 883 678 (Yorke and Mid North)
Within the park
Please contact National Parks and Wildlife Service Port Lincoln Office on (08) 8688 3111 or the after-hours duty officer on (08) 8688 3223 (Eyre Peninsula) or the Clare Office on (+61 8) 8841 3400 or the after hours duty officer on 0417 883 678 (York Peninsula and Mid North)
Outside of the park
Please contact a local wildlife rescue group
If you find a sick or stranded marine mammal (including whales, seals, sea lions and dolphins), please contact National Parks and Wildlife Service Port Lincoln Office on (08) 8688 3111 or the after-hours duty officer on (08) 8688 3223 or the Clare Office on (+61 8) 8841 3400 or the after hours duty officer on 0417 883 678 (York Peninsula and Mid North)
When to visit
Generally anytime is great depending on your chosen activity - check out the Bureau of meteorology Marine page forecasts. May to August - A highlight of the marine park is the seasonal aggregation of Giant Australian Cuttlefish who visit the Point Lowly coastline near Whyalla in their hundreds of thousands each year to breed. It is a world renowned, unique event to this marine park. Check out the Cuttlefest Festival program with a host of activities celebrating the cuttlefish.
Scientific surveys in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park have recorded hundreds of species of fish, invertebrate animals and plants and shorebirds. The most well known is the Giant Australian Cuttlefish and the Bottlenose Dolphin.
Check out some of these species in an Underwater Guide to plants and animals in South Australia.
If you want more technical information please refer to our baseline reports on Enviro Data SA.
There are 8 sanctuary zones in Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park, each one unique and designed to protect important habitats, marine species, breeding grounds or important refuge areas. These are important conservation areas where fishing and all other extractive activities are not allowed.
Cowleds Landing Sanctuary Zone
An ecologically important site for saltmarsh, mangrove and estuary habitats as well as sheltered beach, mudflats and seagrass. This zone provides an important nursery area for species such as blue swimmer crab, snapper and whiting as well as being an important shorebird feeding ground. The 8 Mile Creek site is becoming an outdoor classroom for local schools. To learn more watch the short film Secrets of the Saltmarsh, or head to the Eyre Peninsula Landscapes Board Saltmarsh Threat Abatement and Recovery Page or download the Samphires of the Eyre Peninsula Guide.
Fairway Bank Sanctuary Zone
This zone protects offshore, subtidal seagrass and sand habitat, representing those habitats types in the centre of the Gulf. It supports a nursey area for snapper and provides habitat for pipefish and seahorse species.
Cuttlefish Coast Sanctuary Zone
This zone protects part of the internationally recognised breeding site for the Giant Australian Cuttlefish who aggregate in the area between May and August each year. Humpback Whales are also regular visitors to this coastline during the cooler months. The boulder reef and macroalgae habitat found within the zone represents some of the only reef habitat found in the Upper Spencer Gulf and is also important to purple sea urchin, reef fish and southern calamari. This rocky coastline is in the form of boulders or shingle ridges, a rare geological phenomena over 5000 years old and a remnant of the last ice age. The area is of cultural significance to the Barngarla people. You can take a virtual tour with the cuttlefish.
Blanche Harbour Sanctuary Zone
The Blanche Harbour Sanctuary Zone protects mangroves, intertidal sand and seagrass environments which provide important nursery habitats for many species. It also include the unique mega-ripple or sand wave environment in the middle of the gulf, sea sponge gardens as well as habitat for sea pens and the Pot-bellied Seahorse .
Yalata Harbour Sanctuary Zone
The saltmarsh, mangrove and sand/mud flat habitats provide important nesting and feeding grounds for resident shorebirds, while migratory shorebirds, whose habitats are protected under international treaties, use the area for feeding.
The mangrove-seagrass habitats within the zone are known nursery areas for species such as King George whiting, yellow fin whiting, blue swimmer crab and western king prawn. It overlays part of the Winninowie Conservation Park, establishing a protected corridor between the land and sea
Winninowie Sanctuary Zone
The area is characterised by a system of tidal creeks bordered by mangroves and sand and mud flats backed by saltmarsh habitats and is an important nursery site and feeding ground for shorebirds. This Sanctuary Zone contains six seagrass species (four of which have warm water origins due to the high summer water temperatures only found in the upper reaches of the gulf). It overlays part of the Winninowie Conservation Park, establishing a protected corridor between the land and sea. The large tidal range and extremes of water temperature around the Winninowie Conservation Park have reportedly resulted in the richest and most diverse coastal flora in the state and remnant natural habitat of high biodiversity value with one the largest undisturbed stands of mangroves remaining in South Australia. There are large communities of razorfish and hammer oysters within the zone.
Head of Gulf Sanctuary Zone
This zone found at the very top of the Gulf protects the most saline waters and the highest tidal movement (3m) environments within the Gulf. This sheltered coastline includes saltmarsh habitats fronted by mangroves and tidal sand and mud flats, providing and important nursery to many species.
Port Davis Sanctuary Zone
This zone conserves regionally significant sheltered environments such as saltmarsh, mangrove, tidal creek and seagrass habitats which provide a nursery area for species such as King George whiting, yellow fin whiting, snapper, blue swimmer crab and western king prawn. Mangrove forests in this zone are reported to be used by the spawning adults and post larvae of mud cockles. The area is also an important dolphin feeding site.
Whyalla Foreshore - Accessible Beach Program
Offering everybody the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of picturesque Whyalla Foreshore beach, there are three beach wheel chairs available for short term loan and a beach mat. The Sandcruiser and Sandpiper wheelchairs have large balloon-like tyres which make for easy access on soft sand.
Beach mats are available on Saturday and Sunday between October and Easter each year. Mat roll out is subject to tide times, weather conditions and resources! Beach wheelchairs are available for free use from 9.00am till 1.00pm Saturday & Sunday, from October to Easter. Available chairs are Sandpiper (children) & the Sandcruiser (adults).
Please note: these beach wheelchairs are not available for use in water. Beach wheelchairs can be picked up from the Whyalla Surf Lifesaving Club, look for the Accessible Beach Ambassadors on duty, they will be wearing a blue hi-vis vest. Beach wheelchair bookings are recommended but not essential!
If you would like to use the chairs outside of the program hours please contact the Whyalla City Council to make this happen.
You can book a chair by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 8640 3444.
Dogs allowed (on lead)
Dogs are welcome in marine parks but please check with the relevant local council as by-laws may vary.
Assistance dogs are permitted in most public places and are therefore welcome in South Australia’s parks and reserves. Assistance dogs must be appropriately restrained on a lead and remain under your effective control at all times while in a park or reserve.
As per the dogs in parks and reserves policy, if the dog is not an accredited assistance dog, they must be trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate that disability and meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for a dog in a public place. However, refusal may be given if the person with the disability is unable to produce evidence the dog is an assistance dog with the appropriate training.
Before taking your assistance dog into a park that does not normally allow dogs, it is highly recommended that you contact us so we can provide you with the latest information on any potential hazards within specific parks that may affect your dog. Please contact the park via the contact details provided under the contact tab or contact the visitor service centre via email or on Facebook.
Along the shoreline boundary of the marine park there are numerous, council and privately owned, facilities that might be useful to marine users especially jetties, boat ramps and carparks.
- Port Augusta
- Port Germein
- Port Pirie
There is some vehicle access on beaches available in the park, however due to the sheltered waters, the mud and sand found on the beaches is very soft, so take extreme care.
- 5-Year Status Report 2012-2017 Summary (pdf)
- Upper Spencer Gulf management plan summary (pdf)
- Upper Spencer Gulf management plan (pdf)
- Baseline and predicted changes for the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park (pdf)
- Marine Park factsheet (pdf)
- Summary of State Heritage Place (pdf)
- Saltmarsh Threat Abatement and Recovery Project (STAR Project)
- Samphires of the Eyre Peninsula (pdf)
- An Underwater Guide to plants and animals in South Australia
- Snorkelling guide (pdf)
- PIRSA Recreational fishing app
- Great Southern Reef
Teach and learn resources
Dive into marine science in your classroom and inspire your students to design a scientific technique to monitor or survey animals, plants and the environment in South Australia’s marine parks. This curriculum-linked, Primary School (Years 5 & 6) resource is designed to support teachers in schools implement teaching and learning programs about marine parks in South Australian waters through STEM and integrating the Sustainability Cross Curriculum Priorities and General Capabilities.
Explore the connections that we have with the ocean and inspire your students to design a new ecotourism venture in your local marine park. This curriculum-linked, Secondary School resource is designed to support teachers in schools implement teaching and learning programs about marine parks in South Australian waters through Geography, Technologies, Science and Work Studies and integrating the Sustainability Cross Curriculum Priorities and General Capabilities.
Pests and diseases
Exotic aquatic animals and plants (particularly noxious species) can damage the natural balance of our environment. Aquatic pests threaten South Australia’s fisheries, aquaculture, recreation, navigation, and tourism industries.
- are exotic (non-native) species that have, or pose the risk of having, impacts
- can be fish, aquatic plants and animals (crabs, molluscs invertebrates)
- compete with native species important to our economy and conservation
- damage aquatic environments reducing attractiveness and social enjoyment of aquatic areas
- foul aquaculture and industrial infrastructure
- pose health risks
- can be found in freshwater, estuaries and marine environments.
Marine pest locations and data can be found using the National Introduced Marine Pest Information System.
Reporting suspected exotic species
Early detection is important to stop the establishment and spread of aquatic pests. If you see an unusual freshwater or marine creature report it straight away:
- call Fishwatch 24 hour hotline on 1800 065 522
- report via the free SA Fishing App
- Department of Primary Industries and Regions
Aboriginal peoples have occupied, enjoyed and managed the lands and waters of this State for thousands of generations. For Aboriginal first nations, creation ancestors laid down the laws of the Country and bestowed a range of customary rights and obligations to the many Aboriginal Nations across our state.
There are many places across the State that have great spiritual significance to Aboriginal first nations. At some of these places Aboriginal cultural protocols, such as restricted access, are promoted and visitors are asked to respect the wishes of Traditional Owners.
In places where protocols are not promoted visitors are asked to show respect by not touching or removing anything, and make sure you take all your rubbish with you when you leave.
Aboriginal peoples continue to play an active role in caring for their Country, including in parks across South Australia.
DEW Park management (https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/park-management)
DEW Aboriginal partnerships (https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/park-management/co-management-of-parks)
The Nukunu, Kujani, Kokatha, Andyamanthanha and Barngarla Aboriginal people have traditional associations with (including Aboriginal traditional fishing) in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park. Examples of this include Aboriginal campsites in Winninowie Conservation Park and fish traps in Fitsgerald Bay. There are also stories of the tradition of singing to the sharks and dolphins to bring fish in at Point Lowly. For more information head to Coast of Dreams and Plenty.
The Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park was proclaimed in 2009 and became fully operational on October 1 2014.
The Whyalla-Cowleds Landing, Blanche Harbour-Douglas and Yatala Harbour-Upper Spencer Gulf Aquatic Reserves are now included in the relevant sanctuary zones and their Aquatic Reserve status has been repealed.
We have picked the brains of our Park Rangers to find out what they would recommend you see and do whilst visiting this park.
- Snorkel or dive with the Giant Australian Cuttlefish off of Point Lowly near Whyalla. You can do this on your own or with a tour operator.
- If you cant do that try the next best thing, a virtual tour.
- Discover Cuttlefest and take part in an activity.
- Visit the Heritage Listed, Stranded Shingle Ridges at Fitzgerald Bay. A remnant of the last ice age, there are only 3 of these rare, geological phenomenons in the world.
- Discover the rich samphire flats of the Cowleds Landing Sanctuary Zone, identify species and learn about their ecological importance with the Samphires of Eyre Peninsula Guide.
- Walk, push or fish SAs only circular jetty at Whyalla. An entirely accessible jetty where you can meet Craig, the giant mosaic, accesible cuttlefish seat while you are there.
- Like a challenge? Try kiteboarding at the Whyalla Foreshore Beach.
- See the friendly dolphins in the Whyalla Marina but be sure not to feed or touch them. You can also launch or hire a kayak here.
- Access the Whyalla Foreshore Beach in a wheelchair by either using the beach mat or a beach wheelchair. Bookings required.
- Take a spectacular photo of the Point Lowly Lighthouse and its spectacular coastline. Stargazing and photography is also a must at this site.
- Visit the HMAS Whyalla and the Whyalla Maritime Museum
- Witness the landscape of where the desert meets the sea and visit the nearby Whyalla Conservation Park and Wild Dog Hill.
- The Upper Spencer Gulf is a mecca for shorebirds and waterbirds both migratory and resident. Discover and identify shorebirds using the Shorebird Identification Guide at Eight Mile Creek - Cowleds Landing Sanctuary Zone, Port Augusta, Weeroona Island, Blanche Harbour, Yalata Harbour, Winninowie and Port Germein.
- Kayak or paddleboard tidal creeks and seagrass at Whyalla Foreshore Beach, Cowleds Landing Sanctuary Zone, Port Augusta, Blanche Harbour, Yalata Harbour, Winninowie Conservation Park, Port Germein, Weeroona Island and Port Pirie. Just be aware of soft muds and large tidal movements.
- Visit the Wadlata Outback Centre at Port Augusta and learn about local Aboriginal culture.
- Discover historic shipwrecks by kayak in Port Augusta
- Set sail with the second oldest Yacht Club in South Australia at Port Augusta
- Walk or fish South Australia’s longest wooden jetty at Port Germein
- Discover Shakka the shark in Port Pirie’s Cultural Precinct
Stay in the park
Privately run camping accommodation adjacent to the marine park includes:
- Discovery Parks Whyalla
- Point Lowly and Fitzgerald Bay Campsites
- Whyalla Caravan Park
- Discovery Parks Port Augusta
- Port Germein Caravan Park
- Port Pirie Beach Caravan Park
4WD access and track info
There is some vehicle access on beaches available in the park, however due to the sheltered waters of the Upper Spencer Gulf, the mud and sand found on the beaches can be very soft and have tidal creeks crossing the beach, with extreme care required. Tidal movement is also high in the Upper Spencer Gulf and can move up to 3m between low and high tides, which on sand and mudflats can mean the tide goes out over 500m or more. Check tide times before heading out.
Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park can be accessed from a variety of boat ramps and beach access points.
Fishing is very popular within the park. Fishing access has been maintained at key fishing destinations such theWhyalla jetty and Beach, Point Lowly, off the old Port Augusta Power Station, Miranda Shacks, Port Germein jetty, Weeroona Bay, John Pirie Bridge, Chinaman Creek and First, Second, Third and Fourth Creek near Port Pirie.
You are allowed to fish within marine parks but not in the sanctuary zones. Sanctuary zones are no-take areas to protect important marine habitats, significant species and fish breeding grounds. Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park has eight sanctuary zones so be sure to be familiar with fishing restrictions and zones before heading out.
Get started at these spots
- Crabbing along the Whyalla Foreshore and squid off the Whyalla jetty
- Jetty fishing for sand whitiing and crabs along the longest wooden jetty in South Australia at Port Germein
- Boat fishing for kingfish at Port Augusta
- Find a park.
- Fishing in Marine Parks.
- Be aware of the sanctuary zones. Respect the areas where you can and can’t fish. Sanctuary zones do not allow you to remove any fish and also have regulations about boat cleaning and releasing bilgewater.
- Make sure you know about catch limits and legal lengths for the fish species you are targeting.
- Teach children in your group the importance of ocean safety.
- Make sure you’re aware of any seasonal closures, PIRSA's recreational fishing web page can help.
- Check out be responsible with your fishing gear blog by Good Living.
- Respecting Marine Mammals
- Fishing in Whyalla
- SA Fishing App
Along the coastline, there are some beautiful spots to view birdlife, marine plants and animals including Stony Point and Black Point. Please do not disturb animals on the shore such as in rockpools, best to leave your bucket at home. Please do not disturb animals on the shore such as in rockpools, best to leave your bucket at home.
Remember it is illegal to remove any bottom-dwelling organisms from any intertidal rocky reef in South Australia. This area is measured from the high water mark to a water depth of 2 meters. Learn more about protecting intertidal reefs.
Snorkelling and diving
Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park is best known for the unique mass breeding event of the Giant Australian Cuttlefish. But there are other opportunities for snorkelers and divers to experience marine life.
Diving is a popular marine sport, but like any activity involving the outdoors and wild places, it’s important to be prepared. You should always consult a local dive shop or someone with recent experience in the area before attempting any dive.
- Get inspired by reading 10 top spots to snorkel in South Australia on the Good Living Blog.
- Download an Underwater Guide to plants and animals in South Australia
- Read about swimming with the Giant Australian Cuttlefish
- Check out this video to see some of the marine creatures the South Australian Reef Life Survey team encounter on their surveys.
Popular spots to get you started
Stony Point and Black Point
Every year from May to August thousands of Giant Australian Cuttlefish gather at the shores of Point Lowly, South Australia because it is cuttlefish mating time! The only mass aggregation of its type in the world, snorkelers and divers can watch the mesmerising breeding display from the Stony Point and Black Point access points.
The water is cold (10-16 degrees), but the cuttlefish are amazing and a bucket list experience. You can book a tour with an operator such as Experiencing Marine Sanctuaries and Whyalla Diving Services. For those more experienced you can go on your own with your own gear, or hire gear from Whyalla Diving Services.
Stony Point is the easiest access point with toilets, change rooms, shelter and a ramp into the water.
Black Point is within the Cuttlefish Coast Sanctuary Zone. There are no toilet or change room facilities, but access via a boardwalk into the water.
Try this virtual tour to see this amazing experience from your computer.
Whyalla Marina and Mud Wreck from Whyalla Foreshore
The artificial rock wall of the Whyalla Marina has been colonised by a range of species and acts as an artificial reef. Reef fish, ascidians, rock-pool shrimp ange of other species can be seen along these rocks. The nearby seagrass beds are home to a range of fish species such as rays, flathead and kingfish as well as squid and crabs.
The Whyalla Mud Wreck can be accessed from the foreshore. Check with Whyalla Diving Services for more information.
Port Germein jetty
Head out at high tide and snorkel the sandflats near and under the jetty to discover fiddler rays, small fish, crabs and molluscs.
John Pirie Bridge (Bridge to Nowhere)
Snorkel the sheltered, tidal creek of Port Pirie to find a range of fish and invertebrate species.
Kayaking and paddle boarding
What better way to explore South Australia’s coast than by kayak or stand-up paddleboard?
Paddle above the Giant Australian Cutlefish at Point Lowly, through the myriad of tidal creeks and seagrass beds in the Gulf, discover historic shipwrecks at Port Augusta or near dolphins at the Whyalla Marina. Be sure to maintain the legal distance of 50m from marine mammals such as dolphins and seals with a kayak or paddleboard or within 100m for a whale. If a marine mammal approaches you that is ok, just keep your paddle up out of the water.
Blogs and websites for inspiration
Beach driving and 4WDing
There is some vehicle access onto beaches available in the park, however due to the sheltered waters of the Upper Spencer Gulf, the mud and sand found on the beaches can be very soft and may have tidal creeks crossing the beach, extreme care is required. Tidal movement is also high in the Upper Spencer Gulf and can move up to 3m between low and high tides, which on sand and mudflats can mean the tide goes out over 500m or more. Check tide times before heading out.
Beach driving can be accessed at 8 Mile Creek (Cowleds Landing) Fitsgerald Bay, Douglas Bay, Blanche Harbour, Commissariat Point, Chinamans Creek, Miranda and Port Germein.
These coastlines provide important habitat for shorebirds. Watch out for birds and their chicks when beach driving, avoid driving along the high water line in spring and summer when these shorebirds are nesting.
Standard road rules apply when driving on beaches, including the laws for speed limits, drink driving, vehicle registration, drivers licenses and seat belts.
Be careful if driving on the beach, and only do so at low tide. Remember tides are unpredictable and can turn quickly. You may only drive on the beach between the high and low water mark. There is no vehicle access to the sand dunes.
Beachcombing and shorebirds
Along the coastline, there are some beautiful spots to view birdlife, marine plants and animals including Whyalla Foreshore, Cowleds Landing, Point Lowly, Fitsgerald Bay, Blanche Harbour, Port Augusta Beach, Miranda, Port Germein, Winninowie, Weeroona Island and Port Pirie. Please do not disturb animals on the shore such as in rockpools, best to leave your bucket at home.
Remember it is illegal to remove any bottom-dwelling organisms from any intertidal rocky reef in South Australia.
This area is measured from the high water mark to a water depth of 2 metres. Learn more about protecting intertidal reefs.
Useful links and resources
- A Beach Explorers Guide to plants and animals in South Australia
- An Underwater Guide to plants and animals in South Australia
- Shorebirds in the region
- 10 things to look for when beach combing
- 5 Mistaken Identities
- Samphires of Eyre Peninsula Guide
Hear about common mistaken marine identities from Adelady
Dolphins, seals and whale watching
In the waters of the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park you can encounter a range of marine mammals. Long-nosed Fur Seals can be found along the Whyalla Marina Breakwater year round and also feasting on cuttlefish along the Cuttlefish Coast at Point Lowly from May to August.
Humpback Whales and occasionally Southern Right Whales are also observed each year off the Cuttlefish Coast, particularly off of Black and Stony Point from April to October.
Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins are also commonly seen throughout all of Upper Spencer Gulf year round. January is calving season for dolphins, so you may spot a mother with calf at this time.
The Whyalla dolphins which are regularly seen at the Whyalla Marina are very friendly and have historically been fed by locals and tourists for many years. They have become accustomed to this and have learnt to beg. Unfortunately artificially feeding dolpins has a negative impact on them and their young. Please enjoy looking at them but please do not feed them and abide by the appropriate rules.
It is an amazing experience to see these majestic creatures in the water but remember to keep your distance for both your safety and that of the whales, dolphins or seals. For more information and whale watching guidelines see the safety tab.
How to get the most out your marine mammal watching experience:
- Bring some binoculars and or camera with good zoom lens.
- Bring your patience and a chair - they may take some time to appear but you will be rewarded with one of nature’s most beautiful scenes.
- If you have a boat, respect both the mammals and the law. You must be at least 50m away from dolphins and seals (150m if a calf or pup or injured animal is present) and 100m for whales (300m with a calf)
- Never feed or harass a dolphin, seal or whale it is illegal and it harms the animal
- Marine debris is harmful and can impact wildlife, so always discard fishing gear in bins provided, or take it with you if no bins are available
- Observe seals on the land from 30m away or more
- Remotely piloted aircrafts (drones) must be at least 300m from any marine mammal (additional Civil Aviation Safety Authority restrictions apply).
Read the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary User Guide for information about dolphins in South Australia and find ideas how to keep dolphins safe
- Respecting Marine Mammals
- Whale watching in South Australia
- 5 great spots to see dolphins in South Australia
- What to do if you find a stranded marine mammal in South Australia
Join the SA Whale Centre’s mailing list to receive sighting updates.
Report a whale sighting
Flora and fauna
Flora and fauna species lists
To download flora (plants) and fauna (animals) species lists for this park, use the 'Create Simple Species List' tab under 'Flora Tools' or 'Fauna Tools' in NatureMaps.
Totally Wild Swim with the Cuttlefish
Giant Australian Cuttlefish - Great Southern Reef
Secrets of the Saltmarsh
|The ocean is an unpredictable environment, when undertaking water activities you are doing so at your own risk. |
Strong currents, rips and very high (up to 3m) tidal movement can make water activities dangerous in some areas throughout Upper Spencer Gulf Marine
Weather, wind and wave conditions can change quickly. Always check the weather
before heading out. Check the Bureau of Meteorology marine page for forecasts and observations.
Snorkelling and diving
|Here are some basic but important safety tips when snorkelling or diving: |
|Here are some basic but important safety tips for kayaking and paddleboarding: |
|Maintaining the legal distance from marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, and seals is important, both for our safety and that of the animals.
The animals may be seriously injured if they are struck by a vessel or frightened young may become separated from their mothers. Even if there is no contact, coming too close can disrupt feeding, breeding, and migratory behaviors.
Regular water users should make themselves familiar with all the rules for interacting with marine mammals by viewing the National Parks and Wildlife (Protected Animals – Marine Mammals) Regulations 2010.
In the water
In the air
Take extreme care when driving in the park – be aware of soft, shifting sands, blowouts and drop-offs.
Driving on the ocean beach is only permitted between the high and low water mark.
When driving on the beach, it is best to do so at low tide. High tides and storms can cause sections of the beach to become treacherous. Check the tide times for your forward and return journey.
When driving on sand, deflate your tyres as appropriate for your vehicle. Take care when lowering tyre pressure as there is a risk you could roll a tyre off a rim. Also, remember that lower tyre pressure can mean a change in how the vehicle handles. Don’t forget to reinflate your tyres to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure before leaving the park.
Please consider other drivers by not obstructing the flow of traffic.
Maps on your mobile
If you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Avenza Map app and have interactive national park maps on hand when you need them.
The app uses your device's built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. The app can be used without a network connection and without roaming charges. You can also measure area and distance, plot photos and drop placemark pins.
How to get it working on your device:
1. Download the Avenza Maps app from the app store (iOS/Android) whilst you are still in range (its free!).
2. Open up the app and click the shopping cart icon.
3. Click ‘Find’ and type the name of the national park or reserve you are looking for.
4. Click on the map you are after and install it (all our maps are free).
5. You will now find a list of your installed maps on the home page of the Avenza Maps app.
6. Use our maps through the Avenza Mapa app while in the park and never take a wrong turn again.
It is important to read the pdf map capability statement and disclaimer before using these maps. Please be aware that the landward boundaries of Marine Parks are defined as the median high water (unless otherwise specified). Mapped shoreline is representative only.
It is recommended any geo-referenced pdf maps or GPS files and the appropriate apps are downloaded and installed prior to leaving home due to lack of network connectivity in remote areas.
SA Marine Parks Maps
- SA Marine Parks – online map
- SA Marine Parks – sanctuary zones guide
- SA Recreational Fishing Guide app
Downloadable spatial data (GPS coordinates)
You can download GPS files for all marine park zones in a number of formats. It is important to read the GPS data capability statement and disclaimer before using these maps.
Come and enjoy this park for free.
Other fees and permits
To help manage marine parks, there are some restrictions on what activities can be undertaken within the parks.
Marine parks permits may be issued to allow an activity that would otherwise be prohibited by the Marine Parks (Zoning) Regulations. The following activities in sanctuary zones will be given favorable consideration for permits:
- scientific research
- competitions and organised sport events
- tourism operations
- commercial photography and film making
- installation of moorings