Birthday Celebrations, Brilliant Support and Busy Days!


12th Birthday Celebration Survey 194 on KI Marine Adventures at  Dashwood Bay

……..And no time for Blogs!

What a busy but fantastic start to 2018!

Fantastic help, support and enthusiasm plus a whole sequence of events have all created a very busy but exciting and fruitful 5 months. Monthly surveys with community volunteers in our region on our wonderful Ecotourism partners Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures and The Big Duck – 5 on KI and 6 in Victor Harbor, underpinned by regular land base monitoring at specific sites, plus compiling increasing amounts of brilliant community data input, keep us all busy, generating staggering amounts of data for analysis and cataloguing. 12 “Engine Room” workshops in the region including a fantastic media training with wonderful Lance Librandi of Digiview Productions were productive and enjoyable, as always.

Presentations at the inspiring 2nd Australian Citizen Science Conference in Adelaide  – “What IS it about dolphins?” in February, Aldinga Library, Inman Valley Catchment Landcare group and Whyalla City Council in April, were all  well received.

Birthday celebrations on surveys on our magnificent Eco tourism partners were a treat! Celebrating our 12th KI Birthday on KI Marine Adventures on March 8th at beautiful Dashwood Bay on the North Coast and 7th VH Birthday on The Big Duck  on April 18th in wonderful Encounter Bay.

Special company in ABC journalist Alina Eacott and cameraman Glen on the 7th BD resulted in fantastic ABC News coverage of the event and the project generally, for which we are truly grateful.

The first of our 2018 IFAW National Whale Day surveys in the region took place this week on KI Marine Adventures in the beautiful Encounter Marine Park Sponge Gardens, celebrating with our small toothed whales – Common Bottlenose dolphins, with our second celebration later this month on The Big Duck in Victor Harbor, hopefully with the larger whales, now appearing in the wonderful Encounter Bay Whale Sanctuary.

Now…. down to basics!  Ongoing funding submissions and pursuits plus data editing, collation, analysis and summaries, working to make the data meaningful and accessible for protection and conservation purposes.

And…. more regular Blogs!

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Happy World Oceans Day….and Happy World Environment Day for the 5th!

5th Birthday Celebration Survey 86 on The Big Duck in Encounter Bay

What a year it was! Happy New Year!

Survey 192 volunteers on Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures –  Dashwood Bay, Kangaroo Island

It’s been a busy, crazy wonderful year with great fun and wonderful outcomes, shared with great friends, old and new!

The exciting new year kicks off with ongoing land and boat based surveys and workshops, and our presentation “What IS it about dolphins?”  to the 2nd Australian Citizen Science Association Conference in Adelaide in February. We are looking forward to sharing our Citizen Science project in this fantastic forum, in wonderful inspiring and uplifting company.

Our grateful thanks to our partners, sponsors, supporters and volunteers of all ages for another wonderful year of Citizen Science in our region.     Happy New Year!

What IS it about dolphins? 

Engaging Citizen Scientists in valuable research through an iconic species…..dolphins!


Introducing Citizen Scientists to an iconic, much loved species, employing easy to use, world’s best practise methodologies to monitor dolphins and collect data of enormous significance, generates extraordinary community interest in becoming involved. Over 12 years of longitudinal Dolphin Watch research in regional South Australian waters, a large number of volunteers of all ages have participated in highly valued research outcomes.

Elements including multi entry level access, valuing and true egalitarianism which characterise this inspiring, award winning project, have seen it readily adapted to multiple sites. The use of photographic identification techniques to capture / recapture dorsal fin images is very appealing because of its simplicity and high success rate.

Intrinsic health benefits of being involved in the natural word, particularly with respect to the advantages provided by exposure to the ocean are obvious in the enthusiasm of participating volunteers and the extensive benefits to the community accordingly.

Experiences on, in and under the water promote health and wellbeing. US Marine Biologist W. J. Nichols theorises being in or around the ocean lowers levels of neurotransmitters which relay stress signals to the brain, creating a mildly meditative state and sense of general happiness. A. Cochrane and K. Callen refine this to interactions with dolphins in “Dolphins and their power to heal” – Bloomsbury 1992.

The project has the added benefit of citizen volunteers being able to be involved in higher levels of scientific understanding, analysing and cataloguing their data – an enriched experience not always available to Citizen Science projects.

Tony Bartram

Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch Coordinator

#citsci2018   #australiancitizenscienceassociation  @kivhdolphinwatch

Survey 81 volunteers on The Big Duck – Victor Harbor


“Under Southern Skies” National Science Week 2017

Opening address by KI Commissioner Wendy Campana

Birds,  bees …..and all manner of things!

Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in collaboration with Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch presented “Under Southern Skies”  – a snapshot of conservation programmes and displays on Friday 18th  August. The National Science Week event “Under Southern Skies” highlighting the importance of conservation work on the South Coast of Kangaroo Island and celebrating Science in our community, was a stunning success …… under southern skies, in close proximity to our magnificent Southern Ocean!

From the opening address by KI Commissioner Wendy Campana and Mayor Peter Clements introduction and “call to arms” through to the close, the large crowd was enthralled and uplifted by a series of quality presentations about fascinating conservation programmes.

Dr Dave Ellis outlined the brilliant conservation programs conducted at Hanson Bay with a particular focus on the endangered species – Green Carpenter Bees and Rosenbergs Goannas. Danny Male from NRM followed, providing brilliant insights into the effects of ocean currents upon KI and how they relate to our Marine Parks. Another absolutely fascinating presentation fully engaging the audience, as did Tanya Rosewarne and Steph Wheatley, senior rangers at Seal Bay Conservation Park. Their presentation included maps of fascinating sealion foraging movements around SA and Seal Bay in particular. Dave Irwin’s talk on the admirable conservation and rehabilitation work of Raptor Domain outlined perfectly the juxtaposition of Ecotourism and conservation. Mel Pepper outlined the work of the Wildlife Rescue Network and the presentation concluded with Dolphin Watch’s Tony Bartram presenting information about South Coast dolphin movements and the role Citizen Scientists and the community at large can play in collecting vital data. The evening concluded with an entertaining raffle draw.

All in all a brilliant example of cooperation between Hanson Bay and Dolphin Watch, making use of funding provided through the National Science Week SA Community Grant to stage a wonderful event highlighting the tremendous opportunities KI’s pristine environment offers to educate the world.

Congratulations to Manager Kelly, Mick and team for hosting a brilliant Science Week event, providing a great collaborative model for the future. In a magnanimous show of support the Hanson Bay staff donated their services for the night, including provision of a delicious meal.

Thankyou to all for the outstanding support, contributions, sponsorship and making the effort to attend.

Roll on “What IS it about whales? (large and small)”  National Science Week 2018!

Introduction by Mayor of KI Peter Clements

“Small Island Communities: Models For Global Survival”

“Citizen Science in Action” presentation at the Oyster Shed, American River

15th Islands of the World Conference on Kangaroo Island

Dolphin Watch was fortunate to make two presentations during the 15th ISISA Islands of the World Conference on Kangaroo Island in July – one an academic paper “What IS it about dolphins?” in the Nurturing the Human Spirit strand, and the second an overview of the program and its spread, to the assembled field trip delegates as part of the “KI Marine Environment” lunch time sessions in the Oyster Shed at American River. Both were well received and will possibly lead to similar initiatives being developed elsewhere, notably Tasmania.

The enjoyable conference overall was uplifting and inspiring and it was good to see KI and all is has to offer “strutting the world stage.”

Special thanks to all our sponsors, supporters and volunteers for their efforts and in particular volunteer / photographer Peter Fuller for his wonderful video imagery which received wide acclaim.

Hearty congratulations to the wonderful Conference organisers and committee members for all your hard work bringing the whole enterprise to fruition so successfully.                

“What IS it about dolphins?” paper presentation – Nurturing the Human Spirit strand

Humpback Heaven – Good luck Roanna!

Volunteers Roanna Horbelt and Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures second skipper Nina Maurovic

One of Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch’s long serving core volunteers has been rewarded recently in an amazing way. Roanna Horbelt from Stokes Bay has been invited to join an expedition to research and film Humpback whales in Tonga by Scott Portelli, one of the world’s leading marine and wildlife photographers.

Scott, a keen conservationist, has won numerous awards for his extraordinarily beautiful images and video work including 2015 Travel Photographer of the Year, 2016 National Winner of the Sony World Photography Awards and 2016 Wildlife Photographer of the Year (Invertebrate Category) by London’s Museum of Natural History.

Roanna will travel to Tonga at the end of June to join Scott and a film crew from the Discovery Channel for what promises to be the experience of a lifetime.

Roanna, a highly skilled linguist who works as a tour guide / interpreter has also an established reputation for her work in wildlife rescue. She is obviously delighted at having the opportunity to work with the majestic Humpbacks as part of a highly professional dedicated team.

We are all thrilled with Roanna being afforded this magnificent opportunity. It is due recognition for Ro’s sterling efforts in dolphin research, as part of Dolphin Watch’s work over 11 years  and demonstrates the respect in which this project is held internationally. It’s good to know a small local entity which began on Kangaroo Island back in 2005 can lead to such a brilliant outcome for one of our volunteers.

Thankyou Scott and all the best Ro!

Humpback Whale off Kingscote, KI sighted on an Indonesian Exchange Teachers Dolphin Watch survey in 2011 – Skipper Andrew Neighbour

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?


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!


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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