Seal pup on an ethical wildlife tour in Tasmania


Sustainable Ocean & Wildlife Tours

Here in Tasmania, we are blessed to breathe the cleanest air in any populated place and to be surrounded by a spectacular geodiversity that supports unique plants, marine and wildlife, some species found nowhere else in the world. Tasmania has the world’s biggest exposure of Jurassic dolerite and over 5,000 km of coastline with pristine beaches and rugged rock formations, created on stormy days by the temperate sea.

But you don’t need to live near the coast to be connected to the ocean. The ocean regulates our weather and forms clouds that bring rain and fresh water. Yearly blooms of phytoplankton, microscopic organisms in the ocean, form the basis of life. They produce more than half of the worlds oxygen through photosynthesis, absorb human caused carbon dioxide emissions and serve as a food source for marine animals.

Life evolved in the sea about 3.5 billion years ago, long before humans walked the planet. Yet, it took us only one century to over-harvest the ocean, destroy habitat at land and sea, increase the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere by 25% and risk the eco-system on which we depend. No-one can point the finger, because we are all part of it.

Wild Ocean Tasmania is about creating a deeper understanding and awareness. We want to take with us those people who care and wish to share an amazing, possibly life changing experience. The idea behind our tours is to give something back to the eco-system that supports us and use the profit we make for ocean and wildlife conservation work.

So.., if you love phytoplankton, we love you too! 🙂

What we do:

  • Wildlife rehabilitation / raising of orphaned wildlife
  • Help with marine research and rescue
  • Creating facilities for conservation work and habitat for wildlife
  • 20 acres of private native forest to offset our carbon footprint
  • Recycled, 100% solar powered shipping container office
  • Choice of Honda motors (leader in environmentally responsible technology)
  • Avoidance of single use plastics & collection of rubbish out of the Ocean
  • Environmental education
  • Serving only vegan  (cruelty free) food & drinks on our tours
  • Encouraging an ethical interaction with all wildlife we encounter
  • Partnering with Sea Shepherd (Sea Shepherd Dive rules & ethics, monthly donations, beach clean ups, etc.)
  • Supporting numerous environmental projects & organisations (see below)

What inspires WOT:

“Love and need over profit and greed!”

These are Lenny & Lily, two of numerous Wallaby joeys that we’ve raised. They were both facing the same fate that many native animals have to face here in Australia. Lilys mother was shot and Lennys mother died when they got hit by a car. These two were lucky that they were found and brought to us, but huge numbers of native animals die each day due to our lifestyle.

Orphaned Pademelon joeys
We like to keep two animals of the same species, so they can “buddy up” while they’re in care.

If you would like to help or simply find out more about the wildlife that is currently in our care, click on the link below or follow our orphaned wildlife dedicated Instagram account @wild.hearts.rescue!

You can also follow this link to find out why there is so much roadkill in Tasmania and what we can do about it.

Ethical interaction with all wildlife

Giving the marine life space and maintaining course and a slow speed works a treat when watching wildlife out to sea, as the Whales, Dolphins and Seals can predict our movements and trust that it’s safe to interact with us.

Close whale encounters on our scenic tour.
Close whale encounters on our scenic tour.

When snorkelling with the marine life, we keep our guests on a floating foam mat to avoid splashing and kicking in the water. In our experience, these ethics provide a much better interaction with the wildlife, they generally come much closer and stay with us for longer.

Seal checking out our guests on the viewing platform.
Making friends with wild fur seals.

Humpback Whale Research

Logo of the Tasmanian Fluke Project

A collaboration with marine biologist Dr. Maddie Brasier, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies UTAS.

In 2020, we joined forces with marine biologist Dr. Maddie Brasier (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, UTAS) and we started the Tasmanian Fluke Project. Together we collect images of Humpback Whale flukes, the underside of the whale’s tail. The flukes are unique in their markings and trailing edge. Capturing photos of the flukes enables us to identify individual whales.

Powerful peddle throw by a Humpback Whale creating lots of spray water

Using the Happywhale data base, we match our flukes to a global dataset to find out where else these whales have been sighted before. This helps us understand whale movements which could be anywhere along their migration route. Closer to home, we’re starting to understand how long Humpback Whales may be residing in Tassie waters during their migrations as we re-sight the same individuals.

We’ve also been recording Humpback Whale feeding events off the Tasman Peninsula. Humpback Whales were thought to only feed in their polar feeding grounds and fast during their migration. We now know this isn’t the case. Our feeding observations in Tasmania have contributed to recent science publications. By building a picture of these feeding events across years, we hope our insights can help manage and conserve these important feeding habitats for Humpback Whales.

Orca research in Tasmania

Orcas are listed as ‘data deficient’ on the IUCN red list of threatened species. There is not enough information available to issue a conservation status for these animals. We work closely together with David Donnelly of Killer Whales Australia, an organisation dedicated to the conservation of Orcas in Australian waters. Their aim is to identify individual animals and to find out more about their diet and distribution. Killer Whales can be identified due to their dorsal fins (distinctive shape, nicks and scratches) and their saddle patch (the area just behind the dorsal fin). We try to get high resolution photos of these areas to send off to the Australian Orca Database for their ID catalogue.

Photographing orcas in Tasmania
Helping with the identification of Orcas in Tasmanian waters.

Wild Ocean Tasmania also provides the research vessel for PhD student Ben Sellers from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS). Ben is hoping to collect fatty tissue samples of the Orcas from aboard our vessel, using a modern biopsy method, which can help in identifying their precise diet.

Three Killer Whales surfacing.
Tracking Killer Whales for research purposes.

Supporting environmental organisations

At Wild Ocean Tasmania, we are committed to preserving the natural environment and supporting the conservation efforts of various environmental groups. We are proud to work closely with organisations such as the Bob Brown Foundation, Neighbours of Fish Farming, Environment Tasmania, and LOWCo to promote sustainable practices and protect the wildlife that call this area home. By supplying inside knowledge, images, and video footage, we aim to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and inspire others to take action.

Whale poo collection

We’re excited to collaborate with more researchers from the IMAS and the university of Tasmania this year to hopefully collect some Baleen Whale faeces samples to help with the analysis of the trace metal and organic carbon content which stimulates the growth of phytoplankton.

Whale poo research poster
…keep your eyes out for whale poo this year! 🙂

Quantifying predator interactions with bait balls / dynamic prey pulses.

A collaboration with researches from IMAS and UTAS to quantify the way in which both predators and prey respond during feeding events. The aim was to develop methods to automatically detect and recognise the predators in underwater videos. We supplied 150Gb of underwater footage for this project, that showed Seals, Dolphins and Tuna feed on bait balls.

Dolphins feeding on a bait ball.
Dolphins feeding on a bait ball.
Seals and Dolphins rounding up bait fish.
Seals and Dolphins rounding up bait fish.

Marine life rescue

Working on the Ocean, we often come across animals, predominantly sea birds, that suffer from pollution and human impact. This black-faced cormorant swallowed a hook and got entangled in a fishing line.

black-faced cormorant entangled in fishing line
Fishing line was wrapped around the beak and neck of this cormorant, highly reducing its ability to move, hunt and eat.

The fur seal on the photo below got entangled in a fishing net which is now deeply embedded into its skin. When the entanglement is not too bad, we can help the animals straight away. In this case we had to notify the Wildlife Management Branch of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment to take action.

Entangled seal
This fishing net must have been wrapped around the seal for a long time.

Sea Shepherd Dive Partner

Wild Ocean Tasmania is now Sea Shepherd approved dive partner

Wild Ocean Tasmania is an approved and active Sea shepherd Dive Partner. To be able to join the Sea Shepherd Dive community, businesses prove that they place marine conservation at the forefront of their operating activities. Sea Shepherd Dive partners donate monthly and adopt the program Rules and Ethics. All these ethics have been a vital part of our operations from the first day we started Wild Ocean Tasmania.

If you would like to book your special Tasmanian wildlife experience with an ethical, small business and support us with our wildlife conservation work, click on the link below! 🙂

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