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Photo: Giuseppe Carollo

Sightings of bottlenose dolphins in the Yarra, and in the Maribyrnong and Patterson Rivers over the past week, provide an exciting reminder of Melbourne’s close connection to our wonderful bay.

This connection is two-way, meaning that the products of our lives in the suburbs where 5 million of us live,  flow down the rivers, creeks and drains — to the dolphins’ home in our bay.

It’s fantastic to see dolphins so close to town. This is not an everyday event, but we do have sightings in our database going back nearly 27 years. Dolphins have been seen as far up the Yarra as the Chapel St Bridge and in the Maribyrnong far beyond the racecourse.
Dolphins were also recorded in the Yarra in September last year.

This time, we are concerned for the health of these dolphins and the wider bay, with the flood of dangerous chemicals into the waterways following the recent industrial fire and reports of dead fish, eels and birds. The above video is quite close to the “trouble spot”.

We suspect the dolphins are following fish that migrate into the rivers. It’s natural for dolphins to do this and there is generally no need to intervene.

Port Phillip is home to resident communities of approximately 120 bottlenose dolphins and more than 30 common dolphins.

It is remarkable to have these dolphins living in our backyard, when many coastal communities around the world are losing their resident dolphins. We need to protect their environment.

It is important for the public to respect our dolphins and obey the dolphin watching regulations. People shouldn’t deliberately approach dolphins closer than 100 metres in boats, 300 metres on jetskis or 30m for paddlers and swimmers.

We urge people to report their sightings via our sightings page HERE.

(Thanks to Richard Wilson and the Footscray City Rowing Club, and Chris Lennox for the great videos. Also Giuseppe Carollo for the photo of dolphins in the Patterson Lakes canals).

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