Encounter Wild Dolphins

Admire Graceful Rays

Peel Away the Layers

Show Your Might

Expect the Unexpected

Marine Life of the Great Southern Reef

WaterMaarq tours provide unforgettable wildlife experiences along the spectacular Mornington Peninsula coastline helping you enjoy the best time to see birdlife, whales, dolphins, weedy seadragons and unique fish near Melbourne on a cruise, whether months in the planning or last minute.

Extending around Australia’s southern coastline is the Great Southern Reef, a massive network of rocky reefs holding some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. 

Featuring an extensive multitude of seaweeds and kelp, the communities of creatures those flowing fronds support and protect are unlike anything else in the world – ornate weedy seadragons, smoothrays (the largest stingray species), vibrant sponges, amazing nudibranchs, molting spider crabs, as well as world famed rock lobster and abalone. Not to mention our dolphins in Port Phillip Bay are a unique and protected population!

The temperate waters are cooler than the tropics, however beneath the surface you’ll find one of the most majestic, beautiful and colourful range of sea life that exists nowhere else.


Join our most popular dolphin boat tours and discover the temperate water jewels of the Great Southern Reef chain, right here in Sorrento, Victoria.

Dolphin Research Institute

Caring for our Bays

Bottlenose Dolphin

The Bottlenose dolphins are a feature of Port Phillip Bay, numbering around 120 in their population. Growing up to 4m long, they can swim up to almost 40kph. A protected species, interaction with them is managed tightly so as to ensure continued health and growth of these beautiful animals.

Humpback Whale

Humpback whales appear only during their transit from Antarctic waters to the North in the winter months. To see them rise up breaching the surface and crashing down in a symphony of white water is truly spectacular.

Smooth Stingray

The largest of all stingrays, reaching a weight of 350kg! Not aggressive, but very inquisitive.

Blue Spotted Stingaree

Stingarees are a medium-sized ray that are often found near the edge of reefs or seagrass beds.

Port Jackson Shark

Growing up to 1.65m long, they are not dangerous, but do have jaws with plate-like teeth for crushing shellfish.

Port Jackson Shark Egg

Known for their spirally flanged egg cases that develop into young over a year, hatchlings take about 10 years to grow to maturity.

Fiddler Ray

One of only two species of fiddler ray, they forage over sandflats growing up to 1.2m in length. Their golden eyes are incredible, as are their ornate dorsal markings and prehistoric looking spine.

Weedy Seadragon

Growing up to 46cm in length, closely related to seahorses, the male carries the eggs under its tail for up to 2 months.

Ornate Cowfish

A beautiful coloured boxfish, you might see them blowing jets of water to expose hidden prey beneath the sediment.


Kelp lifts and floats towards the sun, on which it relies for energy, through photosynthesis.

Southern Seacarp

Southern sea carp or marble fish eat seaweed and often surprise you from beneath the moving fronds.

Haeckel's Jellyfish

A glamorous jellyfish with bell size up to 30cm diameter. Often juvenile leatherjacket fish call their underside home.

Southern Leatherjacket

Leatherjackets are easily identified by their long spine over the eye and leathery skin. Australia is the centre of diversity for this species.

Longsnout Boarfish

Growing up to 61cm, the long-snouted boarfish is one of very few species that feeds on brittle stars.

Old Wife

The old wife is often seen in large schools and is known for the grating sound it produces.

Giant Cuttlefish

With eight short arms and two long tentacular arms, you probably know this species better for the internal shell you’ve found on the beach. The Giant Cuttle grow up to 80cm and have the most bewildering ability to change colour and pattern.