Sorry! No photography or filming is permitted.
Like any location I considered adding to this project it required a lot of research. Research through recommendations, social media, news articles and more.
A location that I was asked to consider was Phillip Island, for very different reasons than what my project originally set out to document.
Phillip Island is one of Victoria’s most popular tourist attractions and what makes Phillip Island so special is that its a nature park and conservation area. Tourism in the area funds
Research - Penguins, fur seals and coastal birds;
Environment - Protection and enhancement
Education - Environmental experiences
Phillip Island Nature Parks have done a awesome job and always have staff in heavy tourist areas answering questions and where possible enforcing rules.
So why Phillip Island you might ask?
Phillip Island Penguin Parade experience is held every night at sunset and hosted by eco-accredited rangers. More than 2,000 people visit the parade on a daily basis with weekends and school holidays drawing crowds in excess of 4,000.
This was a scouting mission, I wanted to visit the location to see for myself and see what the issue is, and I will be honest… I had NEVER been to the penguin parade.
I spoke with one of the rangers prior to my arrival to discuss my project and the “No photography or filming is permitted at the Penguin Parade” Policy. The first question I asked was why? and how do you go at enforcing it?
The answer he told me was simple:
Penguins have sensitive eyes and a bright, sudden flash or unusual light can frighten or disorientate a penguin. To ensure penguins keep coming back to this special area we ask that tourists do not use cameras, camcorders or camera phones at the Penguin Parade.
It’s a constant battle trying to enforce it, our rangers are on hand to ask people not to photograph the penguins and I will see on the night for myself.
They do an amazing job! The rangers roam up and down the beach asking people to put their cameras away, they have announcements in different languages prior to the sunset parade asking you to put cameras away.
But… I was surprised that tour operators/guides aren’t on the same page. They stand at the back of the stands talking to each other rather than trying to enforce the rules. On the beach most are pretty good, rangers constantly asking people to sit down and put phones and cameras away.
Once the sun goes down the anticipation of seeing the little penguins reach the shore is breathtaking. The calls of “huk huk” as the penguins communicate with each other ready to dash across the beach to safety. The first 2-3 groups make it across the beach and its literally a swarm of people rushing to the top of the boardwalks to see them march to their burrows and in some cases meet their mates awaiting their return.
I didn’t follow them, I stayed on the beach and waited for the rest of the colony to come through, as I mentioned, I had never witnessed it before. After 20 minutes or so, I walked up to the top of the boardwalk and all I could see was a sea of flashes. People hanging over barriers taking selfies with penguins, leaning over looking underneath the board walks and the sounds of cameras clicking.
Tour operators standing still less than 10 metres away from all the action. A simple “excuse me, im sorry no photography” would probably suffice.
At the end of the night, I watched visitor after visitor take photo after photo, I wish I could have taken photos of them. I was amazed, and sad at the same time. The penguin parade staff are brilliant! They do such an amazing job!
So the question now becomes… how can I help them?
I contacted the rangers at the penguin parade, only too happy to help me out. I will be given permission to photograph and document the penguin parade at a later date.
I feel the urge to help them in some way, all it takes is for others to speak out, conservation in numbers. Every little bit helps.
What if we all helped enforce the rules?