Although we seem to have a healthy dolphin population in Port Phillip at the moment, there are a number of pressures that have the potential to impact upon it and other marine life. Threats include pollution, introduced species, coastal development, overfishing, aquaculture and a growing tourism industry. In order to minimise and manage such threats, we need to know as much about the dolphins and their movements as possible.
The Dolphin Research Institute does not have the resources to be in the field all of the time, nor can we adequately cover both Port Phillip and Western Port. Therefore, to identify and measure threats, we need as many eyes on the water as possible to cover those times when we are not around. Sighting information can tell us a lot about the dolphins’ movements and habitat requirements, providing vital baseline information that can be used to determine future research and management priorities. Sighting information is also important as a monitoring technique because dolphins are good indicators of the health of the marine environment. Dolphins are very sensitive to changes, as they are at top of the food chain, thus any drastic changes may be an indication of what is happening in their environment. Such knowledge is vital for the best management of our local marine regions.
The community needs to take pride in and be responsible for our marine environments and by sharing your knowledge, important messages can be passed on to all.
Since 1994, we have received sightings from all around Port Phillip, including the occasional ones up the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers! There have also been sightings in Western Port, and we now know that there is a small, resident population of dolphins there. We have also received a number of whale sightings over the years, usually southern right whales, humpbacks and occasionally killer whales.