Our Community Dolphin Watch program provides an on-going and invaluable database of the dolphins in Port Phillip, Western Port and the Gippsland Lakes. This is citizen science, from long before the term had been invented.
Jeff Weir (DRI’s Executive Director) explains it this way. “The wonderful people in Community Dolphin Watch, and they’re all volunteers, allow us to put ‘dots on the map’ on where the dolphins are, and what they’re doing.”
The sightings that are sent to DRI are all collated and documented by Denise Matheson (above), the co-ordinator of CDW.
Denise is a true stalwart of DRI – you can read more about her in our newsletter, Volume 43, Winter 2011. As Denise said then, and repeats now, “Keep me busy by sending many sightings.”
Anyone can become part of Community Dolphin Watch – just spot your dolphin/s, note the time, date, number, species (if you can; common dolphins have a rather stylish, silvery lower side to them compared to the somewhat larger bottlenose dolphins), what they’re doing and where they are. Then let us know.
Remember: do not approach the dolphins. DRI wants your sightings, not your encounters. If you see anyone acting inappropriately, contact DEPI on 136 186.
Sightings of dolphins are reported to us from all around the coast during summer. However, over winter it’s very different. DRI would like to acknowledge here two of our newest ‘dolphin spotters’ who send in their sightings of the dolphins in Western Port. Through the depths of winter, Shane Mathieson and Geoff Hall reliably sent in sightings; this is very important data for the ‘knowledge bank’ we are building about this small group of resident bottlenose dolphins.
Being the manager of the Balnarring Cellarbrations bottle-shop, Shane (opposite) can’t get to the beach quite as much as he would like to, but is often down there before opening-up shop. (He is also one of our donation tin-hosters).
As Shane says, “This (CDW) is an easy way to give back something to the dolphins. We love having them here, and seeing them is always special. Even my family knows how much I care about the dolphins. They’ve just recently joined me up as an Adopt-A-Dolphin member, I reckon that’s going to be my birthday present from now on…. ”
When asked if he would be prepared to be in this newsletter, Geoff Hall (below left) said “Only if you think people would be interested in a retired couple who walk along the beach to get the mail and spend five minutes reporting dolphin sightings; you can tell them it’s not an onerous activity. Of course, it probably helps that we can see them out the window too!”
Community Dolphin Watch is an easy way to be involved in helping our dolphins. The Community Dolphin Monitoring Project is more ‘hands on’; both provide valuable data for the future.