Pumicestone Passage, which is located between Bribie Island and the mainland is a protected marine park that provides habitat for dugongs, turtles and dolphins. Buckley’s Hole, at the southern tip of the island, was declared an environmental park in 1992. More than 350 species of birds live in or visit the area.
The Pumicestone Passage at Bribie Island has a small population of dugongs numbering anywhere from about 8 to 12 and it is believed they call this waterway home. They can be very elusive to sight but there are 3 known sea-grass beds in the Passage where these creatures forage regularly.
On a mirror-calm day they can be easily sighted when they pop their nose up out of the water to breathe so if they are around sightings can be experienced regularly. Even on choppy days, it is believed they are still out in the Passage, however due to the wave-action they are extremely difficult to spot. Over the last few years sightings have included a mother floating on her back breast feeding her infant, a dugong couple mating close to an exposed sand-bank – a bit rough & ready, but hey, that’s how they do it! This local herd is spotted regularly in various areas of Pumicestone Passage from south near Bongaree Jetty and north up near Donnybrook – an area known by the Ferryman crew as ‘dugong alley’.
Dugong only inhabit the lower end of Pumicestone Passage and do not venture up past about Mission Point due to limited seagrass feeding grounds for them further up.
Here at Bribie Island we regularly see dolphins playing and frolicking in these waters. We see 2 types; the Indo Pacific Humpback dolphin which is rarer and the more often spotted bottle-nose dolphin.
Many dolphins sighted are ‘regulars’ to this waterway and we know this by their individual scars and markings over their backs and their fins. Sightings of dolphins over the years have included dolphins mating, schooling up fish (which has been seen regularly while just walking along the foreshores here), mothers with their new born babies (just a few days old) and just the everyday sightings of them swimming up and down the Passage in search of food.
Turtles are the most elusive of our marine animals here at Bribie Island. They come up to breath and then they shoot away so fast if they have spotted you and they do not come up for air for possibly another 20 minutes or so and they could have swum far away from you in that time. We have 2 types we regularly spot – the Green Turtle as well as the more endangered Loggerhead Turtle.
Turtles nest from Red Beach at the southern end of Bribie right around to the northern tip of Bribie Island on the surf side. They come to these waters to check out food sources if they are coming into breeding age & season and then mate and lay their eggs here through from about October/November to about March/April. On a recent 3 hour tour up the Pumicestone Passage, on a mirror calm day – 14 turtles were sighted throughout this short space of time. They have also been spotted mating.
Pumicestone Passage and Bribie Island have more bird species than Kakadu!
Over 300 species of birds have been sighted over recent times and while some of these birds are native species, many more are migratory birds that come from the Northern Hemisphere (Siberia etc) to this waterway each summer.
Breeding is done in the Northern Hemisphere and they come to these rich feeding grounds to fatten up in preparation for the long flight back and to breed again in the North.
The migratory birds can be spotted from about September to March/April and low tide is the best time to see them when they are out on the exposed intertidal feeding banks in the more northern reaches of Pumicestone Passage, however there are three bird hides that can be accessed – Buckley’s Hole at Bongaree, Kakadu Bird Hide at Banksia Beach and Toorbul also has a bird hide.
Some of the bird species here include emu (‘Eric’ has been known to wander around the streets of Banksia Beach), Jabiru (these breed up in the National Park), Bar Tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eastern Curlew, Black winged Stilt, Black Swan (about 60 of these live in Pumicestone Passage) Royal Spoonbill (a nest of these can be seen at Bellara just off Bribie Bridge), Eastern Osprey, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Brahminy Kite, a range of egrets and herons, mangrove kingfishers, Kookaburras, plus many many more.
Truly a ‘Twitcher’s Paradise’!! Make sure you bring your binoculars and your Birding Guide.
Bribie Island has a small population of Brumbies with this small herd living up in the northern area however they are spotted regularly at Gallagher’s, Poverty and Mission Point. Throughout the wet in early 2011 they were often at White Patch due to many sections of the island inaccessible due to the amount of water lying around. Cattle
Bribie has a small herd of Hereford cattle living up in the island, numbering only about 4 or 5.
Yes, there are dingoes on the island, however they are very rarely seen around the populated areas of Bribie Island and keep to themselves up the more northern section of the Island. Wallabies / Kangaroos
Bribie Island has a reasonable size population of Wallabies and Kangaroos. They can be seen regularly on the Golf Courses, and in the more untouched areas. They can be seen every morning and evening at Poverty Point if you have a 4WD & permit.
These can be seen in many areas, some even living in some of the quieter streets. Mostly they are around the edges of the Bribie Island Recreation Park at Woorim, White Patch etc.