Marine Matters – by Phil Coulthard
As featured in the South Western Times – 28/04/16
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and in this case, possibly another thousand or more. Check out these photo’s I managed to take last weekend on the dolphin swim tour. Leaping high in the air like a superhero was one of our newest mums Scout! In a jumping spectacle very rarely seen so close to the boat, we are not sure why a mum of a new-born calf would want to burn so much energy, but there she is in all her glory reaching heights well beyond belief.
With the summer dolphin season rapidly drawing to a close, we had one last chance to get out there on Saturday before the winter weather set in and WOW, what a grand finale it turned out to be! Considered one of the best swim tours ever, we experienced more than 100 excited dolphins swimming with us for almost an hour before we had to leave the water due to sheer exhaustion. But it was definitely worth the effort! Although the 6m leaps into the air were jaw droppingly impressive, the amount of sound and movement they displayed under the water made for a truly unforgettable experience.
Rarely have I seen so many enthusiastic Bottlenose dolphins socialising in one place, especially at this time of the year when they are more inclined to focus their attention on the seasonal migration of herring and salmon schools close to shore. But on this occasion they were really excited to see us and couldn’t get enough of our pathetic attempts to swim with them. I suspect they had just finished a meal and were in the middle of some serious social activity when we arrive so our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I often try and prepare our guests for limited interest and interaction from the dolphins as we have always adopted a very low key approach to the swim program. Promoting minimal impact continues to be our main priority so we never really know when and if the dolphins will actually find the time to swim with us. What a surprise then to experience such a great response for the last tour of the season and one that will most definitely stay with everyone on board for the rest of their lives.
Although the end of April also coincides with the end of the defined dolphin season here in Bunbury, we will continue to see them within the Koombana Bay area for the next month or two fattening up on salmon and herring. Moving further offshore once the Leeuwin current pushes south, the majority will then remain outside the Bay until next summer, preferring to risk deeper water and the presence of large sharks to feast on the predictable aggregations of the juicy Giant Cuttlefish. Those left behind include approximately thirty locals who have developed specialised survival skills to deal with the harsh realities of Koombana Bay during winter and spring. Incredibly there are even a handful of females and their young calves who live exclusively within the testing waters of the Leschenault Estuary where the shallow waters remain very cold, full of sediment and saturated with fresh water from the surrounding catchment.
Sorry about the corny title for this blog but really it is...it's SUPERDOLPHIN! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, SUPERDOLPHIN appeared in Koombana Bay last weekend to the delight of our swim
We know our dolphins are pretty amazing but the latest research paper from the Murdoch team has highlighted how smart they really are! According to a scientific paper recently published in the Australian
Very exciting news to present to you the latest research paper from the Murdoch University Cetacean Research team based here at the Dolphin Discovery Centre. The paper entitled "Sex-Specific Patterns