A Volunteer’s Story

“My Dolphin Watch Experience

I can honestly say that joining Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch (KI/VHDW) is changing my life for the better.

And there are several reasons for that.

Most of my life has been spent on, in or close to the ocean; boating, fishing, scuba diving, swimming or quite simply sitting.

With a love of all things marine, moving to Australia on the very last day of 1998 was an easy choice. On previous trips to this great country, I had spent treasured time on liveaboards on the Great Barrier Reef, diving, and snorkelling, enjoying the amazing sea-life.

And in the years before, I had visited many  wonderful dive sites around the world, including Turkey (Bodrum) and Israel (Eilat). Amongst the glorious marine creatures I encountered, dolphins were always the most special.

Working as a marine scientist would have been my dream but, unfortunately, science wasn’t really a thing at my school way back when! So, I take every opportunity I can to get involved with marine projects.

Pre-survey briefing with Dolphin Watch Coordinator Tony Bartram – January 2021
Survey 217 on KI Marine Adventures at Dashwood Bay, Kangaroo Island – January 2021

Getting involved

Arriving on Kangaroo Island in 2020, and discovering KIVHDW, was such a buzz, so exciting and a dream come true. I was given contact details for Phyll and Tony Bartram and, before I knew it, I was off on my first survey.

Taking part in these surveys has not only introduced me to the dolphins of KI but also to some of the nicest people I have ever met. People who feel more like family, who have welcomed and embraced me.

Recovering from cancer, I get so much out of these trips. As well as interacting with the dolphins and learning more about them and their habitat, the surveys are helping me heal, mentally and emotionally.

And we all know dolphins have healing abilities!

Citizen Science Volunteers Izzy, Sue and John Holman at work at North Cape, Kangaroo Island – Survey 220

Interacting with dolphins

There are those who say humans should not interact with wild animals. But how else do we learn? It’s not the interaction that’s the problem, it is how it is managed. KIVHDW members show great respect for the animals and the environment. The fact that the dolphins come to us shows how keen they are to interact and how interested they are in learning about humans.

Animal behaviourists have observed that animals can benefit from interaction. When we go out on a survey, the dolphins appear to enjoy swimming around the boat, diving, and surfacing, even rolling on their sides to get a better look at us.

Just who is being studied here?

Research clearly shows that when people interact with animals in their environment, it promotes better understanding and education. And that leads to more support for conservation and protection.

Citizen Science

And then there’s the knowledge we gather through the surveys. How else would we be able to argue against developments such as Smiths Bay? Who else will speak up for the animals?

The importance of Citizen Science must never be under-estimated; it is crucial that ordinary people have the opportunity to study our world and share their knowledge. This empowers communities to speak up and make positive change.

Better access to more scientific data has never been more important.  And funding that research through Citizen Science must continue if we are to protect our natural world.

The people who take part in these surveys are willing to input time and energy, passion, and patience. But we couldn’t do any of this without the practical support of people like Andrew Neighbour, and all our sponsors.

Essential research

Citizen scientists provide a cost-effective means of carrying out essential studies. And they have been studying cetacean populations for decades, all around the world. Shore and boat-based research is enabling us to learn more about the dolphins, their behaviour, and their environment.

Being a part of this is a privilege. And it feels good to be making a difference to the world in which we live. I would recommend the experience to anyone interested in marine life and the ocean.

For me personally, I cannot get enough of it! We are there to gather data but sometimes, I just have to stop and watch and enjoy. The feeling of joy and peace that comes over me helps calm the anxiety that has always plagued me.

As a person with high-functioning autism, this has become a key part of my new life on Kangaroo Island, and I intend to be involved for many years to come.”

Isobel Coleman June 9th 2021

Hardy volunteers heading out to North Cape on KI Marine Adventures on a very chilly Survey 220 – June 2021
Debrief post-survey Lunch and Dolphin Watch 16th Birthday celebrations at Emu Bay Lavender Farm – March 2021

Thankyou so much dear Izzy for so kindly sharing your very special story. We have always felt Dolphin Watch is life changing for all of us, and we are delighted it is so for you too! Such a joy to have you on board!

Love and gratitude, always. XOX

#THANKYOU #citizenscience #dolphinwatch #dolphins #volunteers #conservation #kangarooisland #victorharbor

Time to celebrate!

16th KI Birthday Survey 219 on Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures on March 9th 2021 – Dashwood Bay
10th Victor Harbor Birthday Survey 115 on the Big Duck Boat Tours April 28th 2021 – Encounter Bay
Volunteers at work – Dashwood Bay, Kangaroo Island
Volunteers at work – Victor Harbor

In March and April 2021 we celebrated significant milestones in our region with our 16th and 10th Birthdays – 16+ years of Citizen Science in the region on Kangaroo Island since 2005 and 10 years since we expanded to Victor Harbor in 2011. 

Volunteers, scientists and dolphins….. a magical mix!!

We have undertaken 336 boatbased research surveys on Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures www.kimarineadventures.com.au (220) and The Big Duck Boat Tours www.thebigduck.com.au (116) Eco Tourism vessels plus volunteers regularly joining marine tours in the region,  collecting vital data to supplement our survey efforts.  64 boat surveys on KI core group volunteers Sue and John Holman’s small Stacer “Maggie” have been undertaken on Kangaroo Island since Feb 2019, plus a massive number of landbased monitoring surveys at various sites in the region.

Monitoring Bottlenose Dolphins on the North Coast of Kangaroo Island
Monitoring Bottlenose Dolphins at Granite Island, Victor Harbor

Our purpose is to monitor and gather data regarding the movements of dolphins in our regional waters, creating ever expanding catalogues of Common Bottlenose dolphins and Shortbeaked Common dolphins, using photographic identification techniques taught to us by our mentor Dr Mike Bossley AM. Establishing dolphins’ home range and preferred habitats enables us to work towards increasing their protection with a view to conservation. Volunteers experience life changing community action and custodianship, caring for their environment and natural resources, impacting globally and effecting change.

Dolphin Watch was created as a project for senior students to involve them in practical environmental studies and issues related to the marine environment. It has morphed into a longitudinal community project which sees Citizen Science volunteers of all ages actively involved in data collection, analysis, collation, cataloguing etc. It is egalitarian as each participant can choose their own level of involvement and do as little or as much as they like to contribute. It has multi entry levels so that anyone interested can take part.

Volunteers all have passion in common plus a love for dolphins and the marine environment. Everyone can see the need and understand the relevance of the work and the need for it to be undertaken. Its value to the global community and worldwide conservation effort is understood fully.

Citizen Scientists on the way to Dashwood Bay, KI – January 2021
Citizen Scientists heading out on survey in Encounter Bay – April 2021

We recently completed an extensive detailed review of the Kangaroo Island data and are well on the way to completing the Victor Harbor review, with analysis and transformation of this fascinating regional data. Working with our scientific advisors towards higher levels of protection than currently exist, our current focus areas include non seasonal breeding plus further connectivity investigations etc.

The designation of Kangaroo Island’s North Coast as a Mission Blue Hope Spot www.mission-blue.org in 2020 is a great recent success. The project has won many awards over the years including an IFAW and two UN Awards and the Australian Government’s Minister’s Award for Coastal Custodians in 2007. We trust that bringing international attention to bear on the Hope Spots – Kangaroo Island North Coast and the Great Southern Reef www.greatsouthernreef.com, and the remarkable endemism which abounds, the message will gradually get out there. So much protection and conservation effort has brought the Great Australian Bight and Kangaroo Island’s waters on to the world stage and started gleaning interest in the temperate waters wonderland that exists.

Through the involvement of the International Union for Conservation of Nature www.iucn.org in both the Hope Spot and the recent Important Marine Mammals Area designation, the word is spreading about the special nature of the Reef.

Grateful thanks as always to our wonderful partners, sponsors, supporters and volunteers who make it all happen.

Please hop on over to follow our ongoing Citizen Science activities on Instagram and Facebook  @kivhdolphinwatch  or Twitter @KIDolphinWatch  and should you be in the region we would love to see you and welcome you on board!

#THANKYOU #happybirthday #16years #10years #citizenscience #kangarooisland #victorharbor #encounterbay #fleurieupeninsular #greatsouthernreef #southernocean #bottlenosedolphins #commondolphins #volunteers #supporters #conservation #missionblue #thinkblue

Time to celebrate – North Coast, Kangaroo Island
Happy Days! Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor

The world is watching…..

Dashwood Bay – on our Dolphin Watch Citizen Science survey monitoring the resident Bottlenose dolphin populations on Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures
Smith Bay – landbased monitoring at the site for the proposed KIPT “multi user deepwater port facility”

7 days to #SAVESMITHBAY !

This is our last chance to object to Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers proposed industrialisation of the pristine North Coast of Kangaroo Island, with a wood chip timber export port, now referred to as “a multi-user deepwater port facility”!!

Stunning Smith Bay is right is the middle of Australia’s newest @missionblue Kangaroo Island North Coast Hope Spot declared in August 2020.

PLEASE read wonderful Mission Blue www.mission-blue.org Founder Dr Sylvia Earle’s letter below, appealing to Premier Steven Marshall in September 2020.  

PLEASE submit an objection by responding to KIPTs Addendum to the Environmental Impact Statement through an email to the Minister for Planning and Local Government majordevadmin@sa.gov.au by February 12th 5pm.

Or if you prefer:

THANKYOU Dr Sylvia Earle and all at Mission Blue!

Tuesday 15 September, 2020

The Hon. Steven Marshall MP, Premier of South Australia

State Administration Centre, 200 Victoria Square, Adelaide SA 5000

I am pleased to inform you that the Kangaroo Island-North Coast has been approved as a Mission Blue Hope Spot and as such is now one of 131 areas recognized for their exceptional natural, scientific, aesthetic, social and historic importance. Mission Blue, a U. S. based conservation organization, works closely with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and more than 200 international partners to secure enhanced recognition and protection for places such as Kangaroo Island’s North Coast, the Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Sea, Galapagos Island, Palau, Antarctica’s Ross Sea and other sensitive areas regarded as global treasures.

The nomination was submitted by Tony and Phyll Bartram of Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch working in collaboration with Australian Ocean Laboratory – AusOcean. It has the support of many other stakeholders including both the State and Federal Members of Parliament, corporate entities, ecotourism operators, other Not-for-Profit organizations and community members. The involvement of the stakeholders and supporters indicates the widespread interest in protecting a wonderfully rich ecosystem with incredible biodiversity – a veritable marine wonderland, the home for sea creatures as distinctively Australian as kangaroos and koalas.

Enhanced protection for this unique region is of special importance now because of the current proposal to carve an export facility at Smith Bay in the heart of the North Coast by Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers to facilitate the export of timber. If the port is approved, construction and operation of the port will result in a huge loss, not only for South Australia, but for the world. This is an area that has remained remarkably resilient, an economically and ecologically valuable temperate equivalent to the Great Barrier Reef. And, like the Barrier Reef, the region is vulnerable to human actions that serve short term interests but incur enduring and irreparable loss. Any potential threats to this relatively unspoiled, largely intact area should be carefully considered both in terms of environmental damage and lost economic potential.

Dashwood Bay – looking East towards the adjacent proposed “multi-user deepwater port facility.”
Smith Bay – Eastern end
Smith Bay – Western end

The special nature of Kangaroo Island, a key part of the Great Southern Reef, is described in a 2019 AusOcean Smith Bay Marine Ecology Report by Catherine Larkin :

Yet temperate waters hold a great diversity of marine life and few more so than the waters of southern Australia, increasingly referred to as the Great Southern Reef (GSR). Unlike tropical reefs in which species are distributed globally, 90% of species found in the Great Southern Reef are endemic to southern Australia.

These are not cosmopolitan species that might just as easily pop up on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) as a reef in Belize, The Maldives or The Philippines. These are marine species that are native to Australia and geographical isolation has confined them to our waters. They are as much a part of the Australia’s wonderful natural heritage as our unique terrestrial wildlife. Kangaroo Island’s marine environment is particularly significant as it encompasses semi protected Gulf waters, unprotected Southern Ocean waters and areas of confluence between the two. While several marine studies have been conducted over the years, generally these have been quite sparse in their geographical coverage.”

Protecting special areas in the ocean has proven to be economically rewarding and effective as a means of maintaining the health of the ocean and of helping to recover damage already incurred by pollution, overfishing and other human actions. At Mission Blue and with our partners globally and locally, we are looking forward to supporting actions by the South Australian and Australian governments that will safeguard Kangaroo Island’s North Coast as an enduring gift for people in the 21st century – and beyond.


Dr. Sylvia Earle

Founder, Mission Blue

KIPT’s Second Addendum to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)



#hopespot #northcoast #kangarooisland #greatsouthernreef #dolphins #whales #endangeredspecies #biodiversity #IMMA #protection #conservation

#7days #pleasehelp #thankyou

Cape Cassini – West of Smith Bay
Stokes Bay – West of Smith Bay
Shortbeaked Common dolphins, North Cape – East of Smith Bay
Emu Bay – East of Smith Bay
Dashwood Bay – Dolphin Watch Citizen Science dolphin monitoring survey on KI Marine Adventures
Boxing Bay – East of Smith Bay
Smith Bay – too precious to lose! PLEASE help us to #savesmithbay !!

A Charity Partnership with Goodwill Wine!

A Charity Partnership with Goodwill Wine

@goodwill­_wine https://goodwillwine.com.au    Good causes. Great wine.

We are delighted to have just formed a charity partnership with wonderful #goodwillwine

Want to support us just by drinking wine? Now you can!

Goodwill Wine sources quality boutique Australian wines and donates half of the profits to charities and non-profit organisations. By selecting us when you order, we get your donation and you get awesome wine.

In fact, the wines are so good they come with a money-back guarantee. The Age describes them as “seriously good” and Gourmet Traveller Wine says they’re “quality boutique wine”. Which means you can get great wine, while supporting a great cause. Cheers to that!

Buy Goodwill Wine and we’ll get 50% of the profits ☺

To celebrate our new partnership, they’re offering you FREE SHIPPING!

Just enter the code FREESHIPKVDW at checkout: 


*Minimum order $40. Free shipping excludes WA, NT & TAS. Offer ends midnight 29th October

We are looking forward to our 1st order of #shiraz….with free shipping!

Thankyou so much Goodwill Wine. We appreciate your help and support, and wonderful wine, so much!


#socialenterprise #foragoodcause #charitywine #fundraisingwine #sponsorship #specialoffer #weekendvibes #wineisgoodforyou

#THANKYOU #cheers !

Kangaroo Island North Coast Hope Spot launched!

“Hope” Bottlenose dolphin – Peter Fuller
Southern Right whale – Dave Connell
Whitebellied Seaeagle Juvenile – Sue Holman
Leafy Seadragon – Richard Wylie

“We have some great news – Australia’s Kangaroo Island North Coast is now a Hope Spot!

Located off of South Australia, Kangaroo Island is part of the Great Southern Reef and about 85% of the species in the area are endemic, found nowhere else on Earth. It is home to elegant leafy sea dragons, the endangered Southern right whale, large coral colonies that have thrived for hundreds of years – and Kangaroo Island kangaroos, a small, grey species found only on the island.

This Hope Spot designation recognizes the Champions’ goals of increased marine protection for the island’s surrounding waters, the expansion of ecotourism and research tourism in the area, and the need to protect Kangaroo Island from a proposed timber port project.”

Hope Spot Champions: Tony and Phyll Bartram of Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch @kivhdolphinwatch
Hope Spot Partners @ausocean

Please find Mission Blue’s Kangaroo Island North Coast Hope Spot launch here:

1. Mission Blue’s Hope Spots page

2. The press release posted as a blog on our website, as well as on the StoryMap hosted on Esri. 

3. The launch announcement on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

(C) Mission Blue

Thankyou so much wonderful Dr Sylvia Earle, Shannon Rake, Avrah Baum and Brett Garling at fantastic Mission Blue ….and our fabulous partners AusOcean http://www.ausocean.org !

Now…. thanks to you all….we have #hope!

#MissionBlue #sylviaearle #kangarooisland #northcoast #conservation #bluehope #thinkblue

#love #gratitude

Leafy Seadragon – KI AusOcean
Blue Devil – AusOcean
Bottlenose dolphins, Dashwood Bay – Phyll Bartram
Bottlenose dolphins, North Cape – Scott Portelli


Kangaroo Island North Coast – South Australia’s First Mission Blue Hope Spot Approved!

Kangaroo Island’s unique North Coast is now the focus of international interest and scrutiny in the coming months as part of a collaborative effort by Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch and the Australian Ocean Lab – AusOcean www.ausocean.org to successfully nominate it as a Hope Spot under the Mission Blue Project.  www.mission-blue.org

All images kindly provided by Quentin Chester. www.quentinchester.com

“Congratulations on the designation of Kangaroo Island North Coast as an official Mission Blue Hope Spot. We are thrilled to recognize you as the Hope Spot Champions for Kangaroo Island North Coast.

As you know Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean – Earth’s blue heart. Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean.

While about 12 percent of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks etc.), less than six percent of the ocean is protected in any way. Hope Spots allow us to plan for the future and look beyond current marine protected areas (MPAs), which are like national parks on land where exploitative uses like fishing and deep sea mining are restricted. Hope Spots are often areas that need new protection, but they can also be existing MPAs where more action is needed.

They can be large, they can be small, but they all provide hope due to:

• A special abundance or diversity of species, unusual or representative species, habitats or ecosystems

• Particular populations of rare, threatened or endemic species

• A site with potential to reverse damage from negative human impacts

• The presence of natural processes such as major migration corridors or spawning grounds

• Significant historical, cultural or spiritual values

• Particular economic importance to the community

The Hope Spots Council made this designation based on the merit of the nomination and the criteria mentioned above. We commend you for all of your work with Kangaroo Island North Coast and celebrate with you for this designation. We stand in solidarity with you and support your efforts to protect this incredible place.”


Dr. Sylvia Earle

President, Mission Blue

August 18th 2020



#missionblue #hopespot #northcoast #kangarooisland #southaustralia #greatsouthernreef #hope #conservation #protection #love #gratitude

Hope Spot Nomination for Kangaroo Island’s North Coast

Shortbeaked Common Dolphins – North Coast November 2017: Phyll Bartram
Humpback Whale – North Cape December 2018: Sofie Nyberg
Humpback Whale – North Cape November 2011: Andrew Neighbour
Bottlenose Dolphins – Dashwood Bay North Cape 2012: Richard Wylie

Kangaroo Island’s fabulous North Coast will be the focus of international interest and scrutiny in the coming months as part of a collaborative effort by Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch and AusOcean nominating it as a Hope Spot under the Mission Blue Project.

This initiative could see the area, one of only a handful of such designated sites around Australia’s coastline, promoted widely as one of the world’s most important marine environments.

The Mission Blue Project www.mission-blue.org  is the brainchild of Dr Sylvia Earle considered amongst the world’s most highly respected marine authorities, a leading marine scientist and explorer. It has resulted in some of the world’s most important marine habitats being afforded greater protection and profiling as places to visit for people from around the globe.

As part of the Great Southern Reef, KI’s temperate waters are home to an incredible number of species with at least 85% found nowhere else in the world.

Dolphin Watch Coordinator Tony Bartram met on several occasions recently with Shannon Rake via Zoom while she was isolating in California. Shannon is the Mission Blue Hope Spot Program Manager who offered great encouragement and advice to the co-nominators in an extensive, far reaching discussion.

It is possible in the near future, as a result of this initiative, that the marine environment of KI’s North Coast may be considered in the same light as the terrestrial environment, capable of providing extraordinary world leading wildlife experiences. This is something for which the island’s land based environment is renowned.

It deserves nothing less than this special recognition as the following quote from Catherine Larkin of AusOcean outlines:

“KI is unique in that it sits at the confluence of two oceanographic systems providing unique habitat that supports an abundance of marine species, many of which have high conservation value. From Leafy sea dragons, to pods of 100 dolphins and large coral colonies that have existed for hundreds of years, KI has provided an important refuge for many vulnerable species whose numbers have declined significantly elsewhere.”

This promising proposal will be assessed by the Mission Blue Council early in August.

Today, more than ever….we all need hope!

#missionblue #hopespot #northcoast #kangarooisland #southaustralia #hope #love #gratitude

Australian Sealion – North Cape 2016: Phyll Bartram
Southern Right Whales – Smith Bay 2018: Yumbah Aquaculture
Osprey – Dashwood Bay 2018: Phyll Bartram
Whitebellied Seaeagle – North Coast 2018: Peter Fuller
Hooded Plover – Smith Bay 2018: Phyll Bartram
North Coast of Kangaroo Island – Gary Bell / KI Digicam
Dolphin monitoring at Smith Bay, Kangaroo Island: Phyll Bartram
Bottlenose Dolphin – Dashwood Bay: Tony Bartram
“Hope” Bottlenose Dolphin – Dashwood Bay: Tony Bartram

Moving forward…thanks to AusOcean!

North Coast of Kangaroo Island – Gary Bell / KI Digicam

Shortbeaked Common Dolphins – North Coast, Kangaroo Island
Bottlenose Dolphin – Dashwood Bay, Kangaroo Island

2020 has been a very different year ….to start with, first the devastating bushfire crisis which impacted upon the lives of so many friends and associates, followed by the virus pandemic and the global impact upon everyone.

As they say in the classics – nil desperandum, and the research goes on, albeit in a different form.

Regular monitoring and fantastic data input has continued, thanks in particular to stalwart Dolphin Champions Sue and John Holman in their boat “Maggie” on Kangaroo Island, underpinned by ongoing land based monitoring and community data input in the region. The time which isolation has provided has given us the opportunity to progress the data review of nearly 14 ½ years of Citizen Science data in the region more energetically, with brilliant outcomes. A focus on the identification of female and calf Bottlenose dolphin pairs, life histories etc has confirmed the calving occurring in all 12 months of the year locally – a great result.

A brilliant collaboration with AusOcean www.ausocean.org has seen the digital acoustic recorders recently deployed, setting up acoustic monitoring stations to record whale and dolphin activity along the North Coast of Kangaroo Island. This will provide a fascinating insight into cetacean migrations and the Southern Right whales in particular. A brilliant concept realised thanks to AusOcean, and a long time in the making.

The Australian Ocean Lab – AusOcean are a fantastic environmental not-for-profit organisation with a difference. Their mission is to help our oceans through technology, partnering with other NPOs in the area of marine conservation. Developing and applying technology for solving ocean science and conservation challenges…how amazing is that!!

We are incredibly grateful for their wonderful expertise, enthusiasm, generosity and support.

Read all about their inspirational work through a range of exciting projects and their vital research at Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island on https://blog.ausocean.org  

Looking ahead with optimism and hope as much as possible…… and sending good wishes with love to this wonderful world!

#citizenscience #Covid19 #dolphins #photographicidentification #acousticmonitoring #research #whales

#northcoast #kangarooisland #hopespot #thinkblue 

Southern Right Whales, Smith Bay, Kangaroo Island – Dave Connell
Dolphin monitoring at Smith Bay, Kangaroo Island
Bottlenose Dolphin calf – North Coast, Kangaroo Island

City and Country Year 8 Citizen Scientists on Dolphin Watch!

Year 8 Citizen Scientists from both the city and the country, following classroom presentations, enjoyed working in dolphin research with Dolphin Watch in September and November last year. Two classes of SHIP students from Seaton High School in Adelaide and two classes from Kingscote Campus of Kangaroo Island Community Education assisted with data collection efforts using photographic identification techniques, aboard Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures “Island Explorer”.

A fascinating experience for both groups to be involved in scientific research in the field and to contribute to global understandings regarding these fascinating iconic marine mammals.

Funding provided by the State Government in the case of Seaton HS allowed the students to participate as one of five SA Entrepreneurial Schools.


Thanks are due to Tom Griffith, Assistant Principal – Emerging Technologies and Specialist Programs at Seaton High School, and staff, and Emma Bell, Science and HASS teacher at Kingscote for their part in facilitating these hands on experiences and follow up data analysis and learning activities for their students.

Special thanks to Ross Evans of Natural Resources KI / Department for Environment and Water, sourcing funding from Inspiring South Australia through the Kangaroo Island Regional Science Hub, https://inspiringsa.org.au/science-hubs/ facilitating two groups of island students once again being involved in a postponed National Science Week activity.


To the wonderful city and country students, a huge thankyou for their fantastic data acquisition, enthusiasm and support.

We look forward to future productive collaborations and successful outcomes ….for the brilliant students AND the dolphins! 

#citizenscience #education #students #volunteers #bottlensosedolphins #conservation #thankyou

Citizen Science…and community data in action!

Bottlenose dolphin Portelli, Whyalla….now known as “Mrs Portelli” !

‘Rosie’ – a wonderful story of Citizen Science and the magic of community data by our fantastic volunteer Roanna Horbelt.

” This year my partner Phil and I decided to take a road-trip from Kangaroo Island, our home, right along the coastline of our precious state of South Australia….all the way to WA. We wanted to see for ourselves what might be effected were oil to actually spill into this pristine oceanic wilderness. We wanted to meet the people; the locals that rely on the sea. The residents that live in and on the water’s edge…..the people whose lives would be changed forever were the oceans tainted by oil. We also wanted to see the creatures…..the cetaceans, the sea lions, the incredible birdlife…all those that do not have a voice….and to see what this potential threat might mean to them.

And we were not let down! What a simply stunning, incredible, unique, diverse stretch of coastline!! And the characters!!! I could write a book on most of them.

But what surprised us perhaps the most was the amount of dolphins present at almost every point, every coastal township, every beach. We found them leaping the waves in the large swells around Venus Bay, fishing close off the rocky shoreline of Lincoln National Park, surfing in large numbers head to head at Hally’s Beach and catching squid in the Whyalla harbour.

We lingered a little longer in Whyalla as I had heard about the very tame dolphins there from my mother who used to frequent this area a lot in her younger years. And we were not disappointed!

There were at least 10 dolphins just hanging around in the harbour amongst the shipping vessels And quite a few more in the mouth, and just out to sea. Then I saw what looked like a seal surfacing the water. Definitely no dorsal fin that I could see…. I took hold of my Dolphin Watch camera and zoomed in to get a better look. And suddenly realised that this ‘seal’ was far from being a pinniped…as it had a tiny little newborn bottle-nosed dolphin by its side! On closer inspection I realised that this poor mum had actually lost most of her dorsal fin. But this had clearly not stopped her from having a precious little bub.

After the initial excitement of finding a new-born, the situation at hand did make us ponder on the how’s and why’s of this clearly once severe injury however.

I have since found out that this beautiful dolphin pod actually follows the boats into the harbour each day…..as both the fishers and the locals feed them with freshly caught (or bought) fish! This explained to us both their very docile behaviour… and quite possibly (and even probably) the injuries to the mum of this little one. Also concerning to us was the fact that dolphins obviously learn from their mothers (and the rest of the pod)…..so is this little one now going to learn from its mother how to follow the boats in…get fed from the locals….and possibly sustain a similar or more severe injury to its mother? Just unthinkable!

But for now I just took as many photos as I could as they swam out to sea.

Interestingly enough, back home again and attending a lunch with our Kangaroo Island Dolphin Watch family, I saw what seemed to be our finless dolphin on the screen of one of the computers being used to ID some of our local bottlenose dolphins! How strange! Surely not. But the mystery was soon to be revealed. A dear friend of ours and wildlife photographer, Scott Portelli, had recently been to Whyalla to capture the annual mating of the giant cuttlefish. And he had actually met our dolphin underwater! And had sent the footage and photo’s attained at that date to the Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch team. Wow! The dolphin in question even already had a name! ‘Portelli’!

Just love this. The magic of Dolphin Watch in coastal communities coming together! Citizen Science in action!

So we now know that ‘Portelli’ is, in fact, a lovely lady! And that she, this year, gave birth to precious little ‘Rosie’ (named after my close friend Rosie Portelli, Scott’s wife).

And that is the story of little Rosie, the just born Whyalla bottlenose dolphin, that will hopefully now be catalogued together with her mum….so that many more people such as ourselves will be able to identity her and enjoy her company in the coming years, and greet her and her mum from us just across the ocean! ”

Thankyou so much dear Ro and Phil Smith of http://whalesinthewild.com……and wonderful photographer Scott Portelli http://scottportelli.com

Magic indeed!

#citizenscience #communitydata #volunteers #bottlenosedolphins #whyalla #conservation #magic

Mrs Portelli and new calf Rosie