Dolphin Diary – September and October 2015
Updated: Feb 28
Hi Everyone, Due to the early arrival of my daughter Lily at the beginning of October I didn’t get a chance to post September’s dolphin diary so I have included both the September and October diaries together.
This Dolphin Diary is dedicated to one of our beautiful Mother dolphins, Crinkle Top. Crinkle Top passed away on the 26th of October.
She was an adult when Mike Bossley first began his research of the Port River Dolphins. We believe she may have been about 40 years old when she passed away. Crinkle Top has a large home range and therefore we would often not see her for a while. I was fortunate to be able to get know Crinkle Top and one of her calves quite well in 2006 when they spent a large amount of time in the inner port.
Crinkle Top with one of her calves
September began with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Action group, Coastal Ambassadors and Experiencing Marine Sanctuaries sharing a stall at the Royal Adelaide Show. This is by far the biggest community event in South Australia with nearly 500,000 people attending over the 10 days. Some of the important messages we highlighted included:
Reminding people about disposing of old fishing line and rubbish properly;
Reeling fishing lines in when dolphins are nearby;
Allowing dolphins space and reminding people not to circle or harass them when out on the water; and
Reminding people that feeding wild dolphins is harmful to them.
We were also able to talk to people about the Port River Dolphins, their amazing stories and remind people that Whales and Dolphins should be Wild and Free.
Tiffany, Summer, Lartelare and June have been in and out of the Patawalonga regularly over the last two months. We often see these dolphins in the Port River so are fortunate to know a large amount about them and their families. Tiffany’s calf, Summer is nearly 3 years old and Lartelare’s calf June is nearly 6 months old. Summer has an older brother Bubbles and older siter Star. I have not seen Star and Bubbles in the Pat. but wonder if they spent time in there with Tiffany when they were young calves.
On the 15th September while watching Lartelare and June in the Pat, June became entangled in fishing line. This was just before the tide gates opened and as June raced towards the lock gates to go back into the open ocean I was not able to see if she had managed to free herself. We searched for June both around the Pat and the Port and found her when she ventured back into the Pat when the gates opened again the following afternoon. I was very pleased to see there was no sign of the fishing line. As mentioned in the August Dolphin Diary, fishing line is a major threat to Dolphins and other marine life.
The dolphins usually enter and exit the Pat during high tide when the lock gates open. They can also enter and exit via the boat lock when a boat is going through. Originally I had thought they would not follow a boat into the boat lock because the area is very confined and they would then be trapped in this very confined area with a boat for several minutes while the water levels equalise.
I was very surprised when I watched Lartelare and June follow a boat in. It was quite frightening to watch as the gates began to close, I was concerned that one of them might get crushed by the gate or that either June or Lartelare would race back through the gate as it was closing and they would be separated. I was also concerned that they would be trapped in the lock if they did not exit with the boat. They appeared to know what they were doing and once the gate opened and the boat headed out to the open ocean, Lartelare and June followed.
Even though the dolphins are often trapped in the Pat when the gates are closed they don’t seem to mind and when the gates open they venture back in. The area is very protected from the wind and waves and there are plenty of fish in there. We often see the dolphins playing with their catch and throwing the fish around.
Summer throwing a fish
Over the last two months I had spent the majority of my time watching the dolphins in the Pat so did not spend as much time at the Port. It was great to get back to the Port and see Tiffany’s older calves Star and Bubbles and to see several of the other Port residents as well. Port River resident, Ollie has been particularly playful and friendly. My 3 week old daughter was able to meet Ollie when he came over close to the beach. We also saw him leaping in the wake of one of the tugs.
Some of the other Dolphins we have seen over the last month include Lunar, Crystal, Hope, Marianna, Ali, Unhap, Harmony, MJ, Ripple, Bianca, Doc, Tallula, Oriana, Rob Roy and Twinkle.
Look out for the November Dolphin Diary at the beginning of December.
Summer in the Pat