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A Dolphin Called Traveller

When we realised the common dolphins which came into Port Phillip in 2005 were here to stay, we wondered if such a small group could survive.

Today we have about 100 in the Port Phillip catalogue and evidence of the third generation since 2005 – a truly remarkable story!

Our team always spoke about “transient” dolphins that we occasionally see, often in large groups, that we assume come in from Bass Strait for brief visits.

But we never had proof of animals being recorded inside and outside the bay – until we found a common dolphin called Traveller.

We first recorded Traveller off Phillip Island in June 2016 (top image). Then in October last year, over five years later, we photographed her inside Port Phillip with her very own calf (following image). She was seen again in the bay in late October this year.

We have separate catalogues for common dolphins inside and outside Port Phillip. Traveller is the first dolphin to be matched in both catalogues, providing evidence of movement between the bay and northern Bass Strait.

This information is critical for environmental managers, as it indicates that the Port Phillip common dolphin community is not isolated and is part of a broader population out in Bass Strait.

Further research and analysis will help us to understand the mix of resident and transient animals.

This new understanding is excellent news, as a larger community provides greater resilience against pollution and environmental change!