Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dolphins

Preamble: It has taken me a long time to get around to posting about Tin Can Bay's major natural tourist attraction. I send all my visitors around to see this but seldom go by myself. However, this was one thing that convinced me that this would be a great place to live – water clean and quiet enough for these beautiful creatures would definitely be clean enough for me!

Visitors waiting for the dolphins

Some years ago an Indo-pacific Humpback Dolphin was injured in the Tin Can Bay area. The fishermen down at Snapper Creek fed the dolphin until it recovered and was able to completely look after itself again. However, a pattern was set and the dolphin returned on most mornings for a free feed. This is the basic story that all agree on, but since records were not kept the details vary slightly. I was originally told that the injured dolphin was a female – Scarry - and she brought her next calf with her. Scarry had disappeared some weeks before I came to this area but her calf – now a full-grown male named Mistique - continued to come in for his free feed. In the past 5 years Mistique has become the dominant male in his group and now brings in a female, Patch, and another young male, Harmony. Ever since I have been here the dolphin feeding and viewing has been carefully managed and monitored. About a year ago the Queensland government stepped in and approved a new management plan. The dolphins are fed at the same time each morning. They may come a little earlier – or not at all some mornings. They only get 3 kgs of fish which is a mere snack compared with their total intake each day. There is a dedicated band of volunteers who organize and manage all visitors. The rules are strict! Wash your hands before coming into the water. Do not touch the dolphins at all. If they touch you that is OK. The result is a great experience of wild dolphins who eagerly come in for a few fish and then quickly disappear for the rest of the day.
For more information see: http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/nature_conservation/wildlife/az_of_animals/indopacific_humpback_dolphin/

and http://www.barnaclesdolphins.com.au/

This is what it was like yesterday morning:
Mistique and Harmony approaching the waiting visitors.
Too early for feeding but Mistique comes in among the visitors
Mistique

17 comments:

  1. Wonderful story. I both enjoy the interaction and the care to not harm or overly tame. I wish I could visit!

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  2. Thanks Vickie - and you'd sure be welcome to visit!

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  3. This sounds wonderful Mick.

    I agree with Vickie - it sounds as though those resposible have got the balance right in allowing visitors to enjoy the dolphins whilst at the same time protecting the dolphins from the visitors!

    I'd love to come over and see all your wildlife - and have a little of your sun (it did shine here today too - whoo hoo)!!

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  4. Hi Tricia, I think its a pretty good balance too - and it really is thrilling to have such a huge creature come up to you of its own accord. Glad you've had some sun but it still looks pretty cold to me from your recent photos. Here right now it gets a bit too hot in the middle of the day.

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  5. Mick - it's really wierd trying to get my mind round the fact that here (as I type this)it' 21.40 - it's dark outside, the pond's got a covering of ice and the bird bath water is frozen solid! And there you are - baking in the heat in the middle of the day!

    Isn't life grand!

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  6. Hi again Tricia, its a funny old world! My son is in Seattle and I look at a web cam in that city most days and feel rather glad I don't have all that rain!

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  7. Wonderful animals Mick, always a thrill to see. I remember stopping the boat out on the lake and having a pod of dolphins all around us, magic.

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  8. Hi Mick
    Nice story, with what sounds like a good outcome.
    Loved the shots of the Dolphins swimming between the legs of visitors.
    Last shot of the Dolphin "blowing" is very good.
    Cheers
    Denis

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  9. Hi Duncan, Dolphins are always special and its great to have these here year round.

    Hi Denis, yes we think its a good outcome - although it was nearly shut down last year. Some few wanted there to be no interaction at all but eventually the majority opinion had the government bodies responsible agreeing with the present carefully managed situation.

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  10. If only we could show a lot of animals the same trust they often put in us!

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  11. Hi Tony - You're right - If only!

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  12. Thankyou so much for the story, this is how we should see these wonderful creatures on their terms, it is my dream one day to do something like this, i have been fortunate to see a pod of dolphins down here in cornwall a couple of times they are just so captivating!

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  13. Thanks Avalon, they are fascinating creatures and its very exciting to see a pod of them.

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  14. How magical. I once had a pod of dolphins play around me after sunset when was alone on the long jetty at Streaky Bay. They circled m on the jetty for the longest time, I so wanted to communicate, so I whistled Mozart as more and more of them froliced aroud me till it was quite dark.

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  15. A wonderful experience, Arija

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  16. It's so fantastic, it sounds nearly surreal to me. Thank you for this post!

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  17. Thanks Tilcheff. Its a great experience to be in the water and have these great creatures come up so close.

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