Great Victorian Fish Count Special Event

Put on your citizen science cap and join this very special tour whilst contributing to the protection and conservation of Victoria’s unique marine biodiversity.

All Snorkel Gear Inclusive Boat Tour

Get involved in citizen marine science

Special Event Tour Up to 10x Children/Adults From $49ea

View Amazing Marine Eco Systems

Educational and Fun

Only Two Special 2-Hour Tours Available 

From Sorrento Pier, Esplanade, Sorrento VIC 3943.
All Snorkelling Equipment Included.

Details & Itinerary

  • Enjoy a friendly and fun citizen science event and support important marine science research with WaterMaarq’s Great Victorian Fish Count special event
  • Visit reef systems only accessible by boat in a small group of 10, for a more up close and personal wildlife experience 
  • Led by your highly trained, personable and knowledgeable guides, identify and learn about our unique local wildlife species and swim with seals, all whilst having fun on our adventurous low profile RIB boats.


You are guaranteed to have a good time on one of our fun, swift and stable rigid inflatable boats (RIB) during a WaterMaarq tour. With no crowds, no hassle and almost no sea-sickness, enjoy a zoom across the bay from Sorrento with less time in transit and more time snorkelling to explore the most amazing marine eco system known as the Great Southern Reef, safely and easily snorkelled at Popes Eye Marine Park.


Led by our expert guide, the tour will be a mixture of science and fun as your guide shares the secrets of Port Phillip Bay’s underwater world. First up you’ll snorkel over the features of the Great Southern Reef, identifying fish and recording them on your tablet. This is exciting as you’ll be discovering first hand which fish species live in Victoria’s temperate waters..

The Great Victorian Fish Count has been running since 2002, led by the Victorian National Parks Association in partnership with Museum Victoria, Parks Victoria, Coastcare Victoria, RedMap, local dive operators and local community groups.

The data collected is uploaded to the Atlas of Living Australia (an online store for biodiversity data, currently with over 67 million records) to improve our knowledge of Victoria’s marine species.

According to Phillip Wierzbowski, from Coastcare Victoria, the Great Victorian Fish Count is “an experience that not only contributes to citizen science while admiring the diversity of Victoria’s marine life, it is great fun too”.

The Great Victorian Fish Count is supported by the Victorian Government.


Explore the undiscovered Great Southern Reef, home to marine life only found in temperate waters. Here you’ll be surprised by the marine life you see, species of which 80% don’t exist anywhere else on Earth. You’ll get up close and personal to unique fish including blue-throat wrasse, leatherjackets, old-wives, zebra fish, stingrays, nudibranchs, boarfish, gorgonian corals and fur seals, an experience like nowhere else.

Port Phillip Bay is the best place to snorkel the extensive Great Southern Reef as it’s protected from the ocean swell, the waters are shallow and you feel comfortable amongst the real wild fish in there! 

Visit a new world of colour on this fun boat tour from the pretty seaside town of Sorrento, near Melbourne.



The indicative schedule is as follows:
8:05am Meet at the Sorrento Pier to dress in your snorkelling gear and be ready to depart
8:30am Depart on board Apollo
8:45am Arrive at first snorkel site, prepare for fish count
9:30am Complete fish count
9:45am Zoom across the bay to swim with seals!
10:30am Return at Sorrento Pier, change clothes and celebrate citizen science success!


What You Should Bring

Swimwear, 2x towels in case it is cold (one for the tour, one for after), small bag with drink bottle, underwater camera, hat, sunglasses, warm clothing. We supply you with a warm wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins.

Best Things About This Snorkel Excursion

Enjoy an award winning experience sponsored by WaterMaarq at reduced prices for the regular 2-hour boat tour price. Regular tour pricing Ad/Ch $119/$99, pay only $69/$49 for the Great Victorian Fish Count tour!

A super fun 2-hour boat ride in the southern part of Port Phillip Bay for just 10 people. We’ll visit a super cool snorkelling spot where you will find awesome features of the Great Southern Reef, plenty of colour and fish to see (and count!). Then after you’ve recorded data for an amazing biodiversity programme, then you’ll swim with Australian Fur Seals, the most fun ever with a wild marine animal.

Frequently Asked

When do we arrive?
Be at the pier 25-minutes before departure. Allow plenty of time to find parking and make your way out to the end of the pier. At the pier you will dress in your wetsuit and receive your snorkelling equipment.

Where do we meet?
See the travel directions and details here.

What does the Great Victorian Fish Count involve?
Under the supervision of your expert marine guide, you’ll be provided with a tablet to record the fish you see, including hints for species identification. As you snorkel around, enjoy looking for fish and then note what you see. It’s really easy! The data recorded is then uploaded to the Atlas of Living Australia. 

Can anyone join?
Yes. All you need is basic swimming skills, a energetic spirit for adventure and a keen eye to look for our local fish and identify them. 

If you prefer to stay on the boat and observe and support your friends and family whilst they swim, you can do that too!

Will I get seasick?
Our Rigid Inflatable Boats are the same as the ones the Navy, Search and Rescue, Water Police, Fisheries and Coastguard operators use around the world. We call them the rally cars of the sea because of the sure-footed, stable and capable handling they have in all kinds of conditions.

Seasickness does not happen often on a RIB boat, they are open so you feel the fresh air, and the boat sits close to the water surface. If you’re worried about seasickness, we recommend talking with your local pharmacist or doctor about the various remedies available and follow their advice for taking precautions.

How cold is the water?

The Bay waters here on the Mornington Peninsula are beautiful with sandy beaches and exposed coastal cliffs. The water is generally cleaner and clearer and in summer months reaches temperatures up to 21 degrees. Winter temperatures are as low as 8c and Late Spring/Early Autumn average is around 17c+ .

Featured Marine Wildlife in the Port Phillip Heads Marine Park 

  • Blue-throat wrasse – curiously begin life as female fish and change into male as they grow
  • Scalyfin – defensive territorial fish
  • Leatherjackets – fish with rough sandpaper-like skin and beak-like teeth
  • Old wives – silver and black fish that look like angel fish and are noisy
  • Longsnout boarfish – endemic to Australia and identifiable by its long snout and fanned out spines
  • Southern short-fin eel – rare sightings occur in Autumn as they migrate from freshwater to the open sea to breed

All Snorkelling Equipment Included

Begin with a chat about what you’re likely to see, a thorough safety briefing, and an equipment demonstration. You’ll be provided with high-quality snorkeling equipment, including a wetsuit, mask, snorkel, and fins. All you need to bring is your swimwear, a towel, and a sense of adventure.

Take the plunge and discover the underwater secrets of Port Phillip Bay on a guided snorkelling experience in the Port Phillip Heads Marine Park. Enjoy more time to explore with a small group of up to 12 guests and high-quality equipment.

World Leading Conservation in Port Phillip Bay

The State of Victoria became a world leader in marine conservation when, after 11 years of investigation, community consultation and debate, it established a system of highly-protected marine national parks and sanctuaries in June 2002. 

Marine national parks are highly protected areas that conserve unique marine habitats in their natural state, and provide an insurance policy against environmental impacts. Victoria’s marine areas include rocky reefs, sponge gardens, towering kelp forests, sandy seafloors, seagrass meadows, mangroves and saltmarsh.

The 3580ha Port Phillip Heads Marine Park network is highly protected and reserved for conservation and protection of marine biodiversity and natural processes, maintenance of scientific reference areas and the opportunity to observe Nature in its true form. It provides a core example and the combination of outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values. 

2hr Sorrento Great Victorian Fish Count Snorkelling Boat Tour

The Great Victorian Fish Count marine science guided snorkelling boat tour event departs from Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula. It’s an easy drive from Melbourne or take the ferry from Queenscliff.


Tour Details

Drive yourself to Sorrento and join our 2hr RIB Boat Tour.

Getting There

By Car

From Melbourne you’ll need to drive around 90 minutes south to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula (allow 2 hours in summer, sometimes longer). Once you’re in Sorrento, you should park near the ferry terminal. Make your way to the Sorrento Pier (at the end of the Esplanade).

More Transport Options

Please click here see our detailed directions and additional travel information.

Sorrento Pier address: Esplanade, Sorrento VIC 3943

Things to Bring

Make sure you dress warmly for the tour, warm jackets, hats, beanies and good footwear are recommended. Bring your own swimwear and towel. We recommend two towels, one for use during the tour and one for afterwards if you prefer. Arrive with your swimwear already on underneath your clothing to make it easier to get changed into your wetsuit before the tour at the pier. A small bag or back-pack is advised for storing your gear on the boat. And don’t forget your favourite camera!

Regular tour departure times at 8:30am. Please contact us for any special requests. 

Tour Duration
2 Hours. Allow 3 hours in total to change into your gear before and after the tour.

Special Event Tour
Child: $49
Adult: $69

*Children (8-14) must be accompanied by an adult

Things to Know

  • It is recommended that you book at least one week in advance of your preferred date to book the best time and day for your tour and avoid missing out
  • Port Phillip Bay has regular changing conditions, tide and sea levels and your tour will be optimised for the best experience in line with the forecast and prevailing conditions
  • Guests must be physically fit and have sufficient mobility as we snorkel swim in open water and use a ladder to enter and exit the boat
  • Passengers with back, neck, shoulder or heart conditions, those who are pregnant or who have injuries/conditions that may cause a risk to their health are advised to not do these tours, or do so at their own risk
  • Please arrive 25 minutes before tour departure time
  • Tour times may be altered or cancelled due to sea conditions and we will use all reasonable endeavours to provide 24 hours notice


Click the Map for Directions

Bookings and Cancellations

Bookings are essential as places are subject to availability. Tours operate daily except Christmas Day and selected public holidays.

Full payment for your tour is required at the time of booking.  100% cancellation fee applies for no-show or cancellations within 24 hours of departure, 50% for cancellations within 48 hours of departure.


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