Why reporting a dolphin sighting is so important
A POTTSVILLE-BASED charity researching the numbers and health of dolphins in Tweed waterways is appealing to the community for help.
As part of a study in partnership with the Tweed Shire Council, Dolphin Research Australia monitors dolphins through monthly surveys in the Tweed River estuary.
However the charity’s founding director Dr Elizabeth Hawkins explained over the past few months, the researchers are not seeing as many dolphins in our waters as usual.
“(This) is why we are hoping and asking the community that live in the Tweed to give us a hand and be eyes for us to try and find out why,” she said.
To become a Dolphin Watch citizen scientist, visit the charity’s website to report sightings.
Dr Hawkins said while photographs were appreciated they were not necessary.
“We identify dolphins by photographing their dorsal fins, each dorsal fin is unique,” she explained.
“We’ve had a great response so far by the public ... the research has revealed the Tweed River is an important feeding habitat for a small resident community, primarily consisting of mothers and calves.
“We are particularly interested in the dolphins that use the estuary regularly as these individuals represent some of the most vulnerable in our coastal population.”
Dr Hawkins has worked for more than 20 years researching whales and dolphins in the Northern Rivers region.
The current research project has been going since 2018 and early estimates indicate about 50 different dolphins use the Tweed River estuaries — some for almost a decade.
Separate baseline research conducted in 2010 by the organisation proved using dorsal fin markings, some of the same animals are still around today.
Dolphin research Australia hopes to publish preliminary results on Tweed’s dolphin populations as early as next year.
For more information visit dolphinresearchaustralia.org.