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The Third Generation of Bay Dolphins?

We may have discovered the third generation of common dolphins in Port Phillip, but we aren’t sure – yet…

The challenge is that it takes decades of field surveys followed by many days of painstaking analysis of images to build a picture of when females calve.

Poke is shown above with a new calf in October 2020. We know the calf is only weeks old from the subtle stripes on its side called fetal folds. We first saw Poke in 2005, and we know she has had at least four calves, making her one of the bay’s most successful mothers.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to keep track of mother-calf relationships because we can’t identify calves until they gain permanent markings. By then, they are part of the larger group and spend little time with their mother to build longer-term mum-calf links.

This is where the real detective work starts; looking for new mothers we identified as sub-adults. We are currently back-tracking through tens of thousands of images to ensure we don’t jump to the wrong conclusions.

While we can’t create detailed family trees, building a picture of calf-survivorship and tracking generations is possible.

This understanding is crucial to protecting Port Phillip’s common dolphins, especially when calf survival is a growing concern for many resident dolphin populations around the world and in Australia.  

Our work is only possible because of your support.

Supporting our Winter Appeal is an important thing you can do to help protect our dolphins, whales, and marine environment.

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