The Rockingham Wild Encounters story started in 1989 when owner Terry Howson set about fulfilling his dream of swimming with wild dolphins. He christened the company ‘Rockingham Dolphins’ and it started out as a small ‘one man show’ with Terry skippering, tour guiding, taking bookings, doing the marketing and maintenance. In those days Terry used to take just one passenger a day and it was enough for him to get by.
As word of mouth grew about this unique, ‘must do’ experience, Terry focused on improving and growing the business into the successful company that it is today. This dedication to excellence was first recognized by the Industry in 2001 when Rockingham Dolphins won the ecotourism category of the Western Australian Tourism Awards. After subsequent wins in 2002 & 2003 Rockingham Dolphins followed up in 2004 with a National Ecotourism Award and by being inducted into the WA Tourism Hall of Fame.
In 1999, Terry expanded Rockingham Dolphins by creating a Dolphin Watch Tour in partnership with long term manager Aaron Heath. These days Rockingham Dolphins employs around 15 staff and over 20,000 passengers a year participate in the Swim with Wild Dolphins and Dolphin Watch Tours.
In 2005, Terry and Aaron joined forces again to purchase local cruise operation Penguin & Seal Island Cruises- a unique operation located in the E- class restricted zone of The Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Since taking over the operation has been overhauled and brought up to the high standards required for the international tourism Industry. The glass bottom boat has been renovated and a new 75 passenger Ferry was launched to service Penguin Island. To symbolize the change of ownership the business was renamed Rockingham Penguins.
After 6 months of operating Rockingham Dolphins and Rockingham Penguins as separate entities, it became apparent that there was a need to package tours from both companies and to create a central reservations base. This resulted in the formation of a marketing and administration entity known as Rockingham Wild Encounters.
Terry and Aaron take great pride in their ecotourism operations and constantly endeavour to improve their products and services. They also believe Rockingham is a uniquely special destination for marine wildlife and work on raising the general publics awareness of conservation issues through projects such as the Keep Perth’s Dolphins and Sea Lions Wild Envirofund Project.