The Pilbara inshore islands comprise of over 170 islands, islets and rocks, many of which are small, have limited sandy beaches, and are surrounded by intertidal reef. Many of the islands are protected as nature reserves, and there are 20 nature reserves in total.
These remote islands are important breeding and resting places for migratory shorebirds, seabirds and marine turtles. Several threatened species rely on the islands as a refuge protected from disturbance or threats like introduced predators, light or noise pollution, bushfire and vehicles on beaches.
Four species of marine turtle (green, loggerhead, hawksbill and flatback) nest on the islands with major nesting beaches on North Muiron, South Muiron, Locker, Thevenard, Serrurier and Sholl Islands.
Around one million wedge-tailed shearwaters migrate to the area each year. They visit the islands (particularly the Muiron Islands and Serrurier Island) from July onwards in order to prepare a burrow for nesting when November arrives. During the day the adult birds are out feeding and return to their burrows every evening. Bird species that live on the islands year-round include the beach stone-curlews, pied and sooty oystercatchers and fairy terns.
Existing nature reserves
There are 20 existing island nature reserves that contain 97 islands, islets and rocks. These nature reserves are:
- Great Sandy Island Nature Reserve
- Lowendal Islands Nature Reserve
- Whitmore, Roberts, Doole Islands and Sandalwood Landing Nature Reserve
- Muiron Islands Nature Reserve
- Burnside and Simpson Island Nature Reserve
- Thevenard Island Nature Reserve
- Tent Island Nature Reserve
- Serrurier Island Nature Reserve
- Bessieres Island Nature Reserve
- North Sandy Island Nature Reserve
- Y Island Nature Reserve
- Airlie Island Nature Reserve
- Weld Island Nature Reserve
- Locker Island Nature Reserve
- Victor Island Nature Reserve
- Round Island Nature Reserve
- Little Rocky Island Nature Reserve
- Gnandaroo Island Nature Reserve
- Rocky Island Nature Reserve
- Whalebone Island Nature Reserve
The remaining Pilbara inshore islands are mainly unallocated Crown land islands but may become nature reserves in the future. These islands are managed by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage.
Island biosecurity – prepare before you go
Introduced organisms pose a major threat to island ecosystems. You can help protect the islands by ensuring that when you visit you check your clothes and gear are clean of any soil, seeds, invertebrates (like ants) and vertebrates (like house mice or Asian house geckos). Check under boot laces, and in the corners of pockets of clothes and bags. It only takes a short time and can mean all the difference to the protection of the species that rely on the islands.
The Pilbara inshore islands lie between the bottom of Exmouth Gulf and the Regnard Islands near Cape Preston. You will need your own vessel to access the islands. The winter tourist season is most popular for visitors, and the waters around the islands are popular for fishing, snorkelling and wildlife watching. For more information visit Muiron Islands Marine Management Area, Ningaloo Marine Park, and Barrow Island Marine Management Area.
Camping is not permitted on any of the nature reserve islands without 'lawful authority'. Seasonal camping is generally permitted on part of South Muiron Island, within the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area, and may be considered on other islands on a case by case basis. Contact the Parks and Wildlife Service’s Exmouth Office on (08) 9947 8000 for more information and to apply for a lawful authority. You will need to take all supplies and be experienced in open water boating. Campfires are not permitted.
Day use is generally permitted on nature reserve islands, though visitors are asked to be mindful of wildlife, and to take appropriate biosecurity measures. Access to Crown land islands is managed by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage. To find out more, please visit the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage website.
Accommodation is also available on Thevenard and Direction Islands. Visit Mackerel Islands for more information. Accommodation is also available in nearby towns such as Exmouth, Onslow, Dampier and Karratha
Worth protecting, now and into the future
A management plan is being prepared for the Pilbara Islands. Contact the Parks and Wildlife Service’s Exmouth Office on (08) 9947 8000 for more information. We encourage low-key, passive nature appreciation activities on and around the islands, and are always keen to hear about your experiences and observations of both native and introduced species.