Celebrating National Whale Day 2017

Survey 78 volunteers, crew and special guests on The Big Duck

IFAW National Whale Day celebrations were held on June 13th on the 78th survey for the Citizen Science volunteers, and they were joined by some special guests for the occasion.

The members of Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch took to the waters of Encounter Bay with Tourism Minister Leon Bignell, advisor Lucy Anderson and Channel 9 film crew Brendan and Lincoln. They saw only small toothed whales – Bottlenose dolphins, including some well known residents who were positively identified at a workshop at the SA Whale Centre the following day, but ….what a delight it was!

The 15 captivating dolphins were frolicking in close proximity to The Big Duck while busily engaging in fishing activities off Boomer Beach, in perfect conditions.

It is a known fact that we have greater biodiversity in our regional waters than in the whole of the Great Barrier Reef. This includes a large number of cetacean species, both large and small – whales and dolphins. Migrating whales visit our shores seasonally but dolphins are here all months of the year. This provides us with fantastic opportunities to enjoy the whales but also carries the responsibility for minimising our impacts and caring for them and their habitat – our oceans.

A wonderful way to show the Minister the vital Citizen Science work undertaken, gathering invaluable data to inform conservation efforts, and display Ecotourism at its best. The fantastic quality of experiences such as these in our region was reflected upon in the Minister’s speech to the volunteers at the celebration lunch at the Crown Hotel following the survey. Our grateful thanks to our very special guests for kindly making the effort to join us to help us celebrate, our wonderful volunteers and supporters for over 6 years of research effort and to the mighty Big Duck owners, skippers and crew for making it all happen.

On IFAW’S National Whale Day in June each year, we celebrate these magnificent sentient beings, but also consider our need to care for them. Some species like the playful Humpbacks and majestic Blue Whales visit across many months and are considered to be recovering to pre-whaling numbers but Southern Right Whales appear to still be in trouble.

We all need to consider carefully our impacts upon our oceans. Thank you to all who contribute to caring for the cetaceans in our waters. So thrilled to know the majestic larger whales have since arrived in Victor Harbor – such an important Whale Sanctuary to treasure and protect.

Minister Leon Bignell and advisor Lucy Anderson

 

“Under Southern Skies” National Science Week 2017

Another presentation for international volunteers recently at the magnificent Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on the rugged South Coast of Kangaroo Island, saw a small but enthusiastic audience introduced to Dolphin Watch, including Jim, one of the two Sanctuary owners. Congratulations to both Jim and Todd on 20 years of fantastic conservation effort and special thanks to Manager Kelly and Mick and staff for their wonderful work, fantastic help and support, and facilitating our visits.

“Under Southern Skies” presents an exciting new National Science Week 2017 focus at Hanson Bay through this wonderful collaboration, featuring the magnificent terrestrial and marine biodiversity of the south coast, highlighting the importance and relevance of Science in our region and beyond, and leading to greater knowledge and understandings of existing conservation programmes and the need to care for coastal environments.

Offering a different focus, building on our 7 successful National Science Week events, Under Southern Skies will involve an evening celebration with a snapshot of brilliant conservation programmes on KI, including those at the sanctuary, with guest presentations by various speakers and displays, live music etc.  This main event on August 17th will be supported by a community South Coast survey on our fantastic operational partners Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures, a Dolphin Watch presentation and a community open workshop during Science Week.

Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is well known for its conservation efforts and international volunteer programmes in an unspoilt wilderness, recognised as one of the most bio-diverse and pristine ecosystems that remain in Australia. In 1998 it was added to the Heritage Places National Estate Register.

Thankyou Hanson Bay!

 

Celebrating 6 years of Citizen Science in action in Victor Harbor

Dolphin Watch has been unobtrusively monitoring dolphin populations on Kangaroo Island since 2005 and Victor Harbor since 2011, minimising impacts and behavioural change, collecting vital baseline data. Developing understandings of custodianship of these sentient non human persons and their habitats, dedicated volunteers of all ages participate in surveys on Eco Tourism vessels: Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures and The Big Duck Boat Tours, Victor Harbor, plus land-based monitoring, contributing a staggering number of volunteer hours over 11 plus years.

Victor Harbor’s 6th Birthday survey was a fantastic experience for all on board despite the conditions with 22 Bottlenose dolphins displaying peaceful resting behaviours in close proximity, allowing for great observations and data collection.

A delicious lunch at the Red Orchid followed, allowing original owner / skipper Dan Irvine and new owner / skipper Michael Veenstra to be thanked for their fantastic support of our vital research efforts. A stunning birthday cake once again created by volunteer Gloria Jean was truly the “icing on the cake”. Highly productive workshops at the SA Whale Centre on the following 2 days saw all observed dolphins identified – a tremendous result.

Thanks to all at The Big Duck, the wonderful volunteers and supporters, the SA Whale Centre and especially our wonderful Manager Nedra Haines once again for her fantastic organisation, dedication and outstanding contribution to the welfare of the cetaceans in the region over the years.

What IS it about dolphins?

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What IS it about dolphins? Is it their fluid beauty, enigmatic “smile”, remarkable intelligence and adaption to environments…..or is it something even more wonderful and mystifying?

Deified by ancient civilizations and indigenous cultures, these non human persons epitomise the best of natural experiences in the marine world which is so mysterious and prepossessing to humankind. Perhaps it is this – they lead us down to the sea and provide a pathway for extraordinary interactions in the oceans of the world.

Is it because they appear spiritual and sentient to some or playful and fun loving to others…..or something quite different? Maybe it is much more fundamental and simple – they make us feel good. As the vast majority of us benefit from interactions with them, the question is answered in the value they bring to our lives.

This forthcoming book of stories regarding a broad spectrum of people from all walks of life describing connections or interactions with dolphins, goes at least part way in answering the question proferred in the title. In a remarkable feat of generosity, goodwill and support from many representatives of the world’s communities, the authors are bringing together heart warming and illuminating writings, images and art work. From a retired sheet metal worker / truckie / photographer to world leading scientists, from world renowned artists to volunteer researchers, contributors are endeavouring to answer the question, reflecting their individuality and the meaning that dolphins bring to their lives.

It seems the answer is as individual as the writers themselves, and it is in this fact that the strength of the relationships formed lies.

What IS it about dolphins? Perhaps they bring out the best in us and in so doing provide us with hope for the future, and isn’t that a good thing and something for which we should be eternally grateful?

Love and gratitude to all the wonderful contributors ….and to the dolphins of the world.

Happy 11th Birthday Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch!

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Dolphin Watch celebrated its 11th Birthday in style on March 8th with a research survey at Dashwood Bay aboard project partner Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures’ flagship “Zeehond”. A perfect day gave the dedicated crew of volunteers, old and new, a fantastic opportunity to observe at close hand between 70 and 80 dolphins, resting, socialising, mating and generally having fun in a magnificent pristine environment.

A barbecue at Emu Bay followed giving coordinator Tony Bartram a chance to thank KIMA for their outstanding support over 11 years of research effort of this iconic species and their habitats. A huge vote of thanks is also due to all the wonderful volunteers of all ages, our other project partners Whale and Dolphin Conservation and The Big Duck Boat Tours, Victor Harbor,  our long term sponsors I-Nex Corporation, Sealink KI, KI Paperworks, Raptor Domain and the Ozone Hotel, and mentors, sponsors, supporters, scientists and collaborators. As challenges increase the invaluable data collected by this group of conservation minded Citizen Scientists is being called upon more and more to inform management decisions with respect to the health of the marine environment.

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We’re Back!

I -NEX Corporation Managing Director Mark De Raad and Dolphin Watch Coordinator Tony Bartram November 2016

I -NEX Corporation Managing Director Mark de Raad and Dolphin Watch Coordinator Tony Bartram November 2016

After a protracted period of time following a severe hacking under a previous host, this site has a new web presence, safely “under the wings” of our wonderful Dolphin Watch sponsors I-NEX Corporation. We will be updating with information and developments from the ensuing period with new happenings over time… a work in progress! Thanks for your patience and Watch This Space!

On November 14th Tony and Phyll were fortunate to attend an inservice on the operation of the new website with Managing Director Mark de Raad. The site was launched and is now operational, thanks to Mark, Adrian and their team and their greatly appreciated long term effort, support, patience, energy and faith in our project. I-Nex is a wholly Australian based software development, consulting and support company founded 20 years ago under the direction of Mark de Raad. They are involved in the creative thinking and the making of significant research and environmental projects, often in collaboration with research organisations and all with an eye on social improvement and education. I-Nex skills include the creation of websites, mobile apps and related technologies, enabling mass data collection through “crowd” contributions (examples of this include the KIVHDW app and website) but also specific projects such as our data base www.islandmind.com.au and FoodNow dietetics and physiology research for Deakin Uni.
“We greatly value the work that the Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch team do for our South Australian environment and are justly proud of our nearly 11 year sponsorship.”

www.i-nex.com.au  Telephone 08 8236 7456

Mark de Raad  April 7th 2016

Thankyou dear Mark and team. We greatly value the work you do and all you have done for us…our very own White Knight. Love and gratitude always.
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6 Years Of Research Effort From Lameroo Schools

Lameroo Schools onboard Phil Robinson’s cray boat October 19th 2012

Lameroo Regional District Schools participated in field survey research effort for the sixth year in succession on October 19th. As in previous years Phil Robinson ferried the students and accompanying adults out to North Cape on board his cray fishing boat. Andrew Neighbour of Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures then took the group, half at a time to North Cape proper and around to Cloud Bay in search of the local dolphin pod. The combined efforts were rewarded with good sightings in reasonable conditions, with the second group in particular experiencing a brilliant up close encounter with approximately 18 dolphins over an extended period. The data obtained is invaluable and the efforts of the students were remarkable, particularly given the high levels of excitement the dolphin observations generated. A great experience again for all involved and a credit to the Lameroo visitors, and another brilliant effort by Andrew, Phil and crew. Special thanks to teacher Maureen Steinborner for her fantastic long term interest and support.

Onboard with “The Recorder” – Port Pirie Dolphin Watch

Port Pirie Dolphin Watch crew September 28th 2012

Windy conditions with poor visibility made the field survey at Port Pirie on September 28th somewhat difficult. In spite of this the crew of Kevin, Tony and Phyll, joined by Celeste from the Port Pirie Recorder, and farewelled by Port Pirie Dolphin Watch teacher Tegan, were treated to a magnificent observation of 20+ Bottlenose dolphins frolicking off the western end of Ward Spit. This has proved to be a reliable site for regular sightings over the past 3 years, providing the basis of much of the local data collection, research effort and cataloguing.
Once again our sincere thanks are due to Kevin Pallant for his outstanding long term contribution along with Trevor Thomas, unfortunately suffering from serious ill health currently. Get well soon Skipper Trevor!

KI Sealink Ferries Staff Training Begins

Training Sealink staff onboard the Spirit of Kangaroo Island October 10th 2012

On Wednesday 10th October Tony Bartram trained Sealink Ferries staff in dolphin monitoring and data collection techniques at their offices in Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island and Cape Jervis on the mainland, and crews on board the Spirit of Kangaroo Island and the Sealion. The staff, particularly those on board, together with Sealink passengers, will be assisting in gathering data regarding the dolphins which are frequently sighted on voyages across Backstairs Passage, and their habitat. Rudimentary information regarding whale identification was also provided to enable the crews to provide information regarding sightings to the SA Whale Centre and the SA Museum.
Kangaroo Island Dolphin Watch are extremely grateful to Sealink for ongoing sponsorship through funding and travel, providing significant support for the development and sustainability of the project and its expansion to Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch, which has been in operation for 18 months. The community education and awareness raising resulting from Sealink support is significant and highly valued.

Youth Connect / SA Works Dolphin Watch 2012

Data analysis at the Youth Connect Workshop September 3rd 2012

The Youth Connect SA Works Dolphin Watch project which commenced on July 23rd, continues to go from strength to strength, with alternating weekly field surveys and workshops. The project managed by Regional Development Australia is funded by the Commonwealth and State Governments, linking young people with older community volunteers.
A fascinating workshop with Gary Bell of KI Digicam has resulted in a greater understanding of how to obtain quality video footage and editing to best effect with products improving in quality and impact accordingly. Migratory Wildlife Networks Geoff Prideaux’s workshop on data entry on the website www.kangarooislanddolphinwatch.com.au created great excitement when he demonstrated the API mapping tools he has created. A world first application with considerable wow factor and readily adopted as a project by Nina and Sharon in particular. An absolutely stunning result.
The introduction of three new enthusiastic students recently, Jayden, Thomas and James, has boosted research activity and analysis, movie editing etc. Skipper Andrew’s work with the new students and Ellis is outstanding, equipping them with a broad range of skills and experiences in employability in boating and marine services.
A wonderful community Citizen Science project highly valued and thoroughly enjoyed by all.