Researchers from the Dolphin Research Institute, Curtin University and Macquarie University have recently published a scientific paper in the Royal Society Open Science journal. The paper describes the residency of a small community of short-beaked common dolphins in the south-eastern coast of Port Phillip.
Short-beaked common dolphins are usually found in offshore waters so to regularly encounter them in Port Phillip, which is comparatively shallow compared to their usual habitat, is very unusual. This means that not only do we have resident bottlenose dolphins in our bay, but also resident common dolphins. According to the Dolphin Institute’s Research Director, Sue Mason, (pictured) 10 of the 13 adult common dolphins photographed between 2007 and 2014 are resident. In fact, the total community may consist of as few as 30 common dolphins. This includes adults, sub-adults and calves. Like bottlenose dolphins, individuals within the common dolphin community are identified by the various nicks and notches that accumulate on the dolphins’ dorsal fin over time.
One way that we can all help care for the dolphins in our bay is to remain at least 100m away from them if in a boat or 300m if you are riding a jet-ski. While it is tempting to get close and interact with dolphins, these minimum approach distances help to reduce the risk of injury to both the dolphins and vessel passengers.