Recognising the individual dolphins helps us to keep track of population size, their social structure and their movements enabling us to research and monitor them more efficiently.
The Port River Dolphins are identified and named by Dr Mike Bossley and Whale and Dolphin Conservation. Mike has been studiying the Port River Dolphins since the 1980’s and his valuable research enables us to
know so much about the dolphins, their lives and their history.
We do not agree with tagging or interfering with the dolphins, instead we use a variety of non-intrusive identification techniques to help us recognise them.
The most common technique we use to monitor the Port River Dolphins is photographing the dolphin’s dorsal fin (the fin on the dolphins back). The dorsal fin is made of soft cartilage and often dolphins will obtain notches and nicks in their fins enabling us to identify them easily (see Unhap).
Not all dolphins have notches and nicks in their dorsal fin so another technique we use is the shape of the dorsal fin. Some fins are more triangular (See Crystal) and some are very tall and curved (See Captain Hook).
There are other individual characteristics that can help us identify them. Some are slightly paler in colour; some have scars that we are able to see easily. Others also have notches and nicks in their tail flukes (See Twinkle). The tail flukes are also made of soft cartilage and can get nicks and cuts quite easily.
Dolphins will often get small cuts, scratches or rakings on their fins and bodies. Rakings are teeth marks from other dolphins. Dolphins heal remarkably well and rakings, scratches and cuts will often dissappear. They therefore make it easy to tell dolphins apart in the short term but are not reliable for identification as they usually heal quickly and will completely disappear after a little while.