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Isolated from mainland Australia by the Bass Strait, some of the wildlife and marine life that inhabit Tasmania’s wilderness and coastal landscapes are seen nowhere else. Here are our tips for the best wildlife spotting opportunities in Tasmania.
Combine your enthusiasm for expedition cruising with wildlife spotting opportunities with Coral Expeditions Tasmania voyages aboard Coral Discoverer.
Wildlife Highlights of Tasmania:
The wombat is a large marsupial about the size of a stocky small dog and is found in south-eastern Australia, including a robust population across Tasmania. One of the best places to see wombats in the wild is on Maria Island on Tasmania’s east coast. Being marsupials, female wombats rear their young in a pouch, but with a distinct difference to other marsupials. Wombats have a backwards-facing pouch – a useful evolutionary feature that prevents wombats covering their young with soil when digging. Wombats are nocturnal creatures and have powerful claws and rodent-like front teeth that they use for digging extensive burrows. They are herbivores and eat mainly grasses, herbs, bark and roots.
Native to Australia, Tasmanian devils no longer inhabit mainland Australia and are only found in the wild in pockets of Tasmania. With their small, stocky and muscular stature, Tasmanian devils are solitary carnivorous marsupials that hunt prey and opportunistically scavenge on carrion. Males can be feisty, particularly during mating season which can become quite competitive as males compete for female partners. Since the late 1990’s the devil facial tumour disease has seriously reduced Tasmanian devil numbers, threatening the species’ survival which is listed as endangered. A healthy disease-free population of devils inhabits Maria Island, making the island your best opportunity to see Tasmanian devils in the wild.
Bennett’s wallabies, which are also known as red-necked wallabies are identifiable by a white stripe on their jaw, black nose and paws along with a patch of reddish fur across their shoulders. They’re a mid-sized wallaby commonly found in coastal scrublands eastern Australia including Tasmania. Some Bennett’s wallabies have a rare genetic mutation which gives them a white fur coat. Bruny Island is a terrific location to see Bennett’s wallabies. The island is also home to a significant population of white wallabies, some of which are albino and have white coats with pink eyes, ears and nose.
ORANGE BELLIED PARROT
Critically endangered Orange-bellied parrots (known endearingly as OBP’s) are so rare that there are thought to be little more than a handful surviving in the wild. One of the few Australian parrots that migrate annually, OBP’s spend winter months in coastal South Australia and Victoria before migrating across the Bass Strait to southern Tasmania for breeding as summer arrives. A captive breeding program was implemented with bird sanctuaries and conservation parks as an ex-situ conservation method to create an ‘insurance population’ to prevent the extinction of the species. The most likely chance of seeing OBP’s in the wild is at Melaleuca, Port Davey, in Tasmania’s southwest wilderness area. About the size of a budgerigar, look for their vibrant colouring with bright green and yellow bodies with a distinct orange patch on the lower belly.
Little penguins are the world’s smallest penguins and are seen in abundant numbers in Tasmanian waters. Sometimes called fairy penguins, their streamlined shape and efficient flippers enable them to hunt and catch prey in shallow, swift dives up to depths of 30m. They spend daylight hours in the ocean feeding, returning to the same shore after dark, where they spend the night in rookeries, burrowed into vegetation adjacent to the beach. Bruny Island is a good location to view little penguins. An observation deck has been established near the narrow isthmus to view these creatures as they come ashore each evening.
DOLPHINS & WHALES
The ocean surrounding Tasmania supports large populations of dolphins, whales and porpoises with approximately 45 species identified. Humpback and southern right whales are frequently sighted during their annual migration.
Humpback whale populations congregate in Antarctica during the summer months to feed. From late autumn they start heading north into Tasmanian waters and beyond on their annual migratory route. Humpback whales spend the winter months in warm northern waters to breed and raise young calves. They return to Tasmanian waters usually around September to November as they return to Antarctica. Dolphin species often sighted in Tasmanian waters include common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, southern right whale dolphins. A likely part of the Tasmanian coast to see dolphins is around the Tasman Peninsula region where food sources are abundant.
View Wildlife with an Expert Expedition Team
Coral Expeditions’ Expedition Team are experienced wildlife spotters and offer expert interpretation and insights into Tasmania’s unique eco-system and the wildlife that inhabits it. Coral Discoverer’s Coastal Treks of Tasmania itinerary has been designed to seamlessly enable extensive shore excursions to maximise immersion in the landscape and its wildlife spotting opportunities. After each days’ exertions, retire to the Coral Discoverer’s panoramic Explorer bar and recharge with a Tasmanian single malt or a famed Tasmanian wine. Surely there isn’t a better way to explore Tasmania’s coast!
Combine your enthusiasm for expedition cruising with wildlife spotting opportunities with Coral Expeditions Tasmania voyages January to March 2021 on expedition ship Coral Discoverer.