Dolphin Research Program
We have partnered with Marine Biologists from Flinders University to develop an ongoing dolphin research and monitoring program. The research targets the two species of dolphins we commonly encounter in the Gulf of St. Vincent, the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus), currently listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN, and short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis).
As an eco-tourism company, we support the implementation of standardised data collection and integration into tourism for use by science and management, with being in the field every day providing us with an incredible opportunity to undertake consistent and coordinated research.
The objective of this project is to collect baseline data on the distribution, abundance, age composition and health of the dolphin population along Adelaide’s metropolitan coast. The information gathered will help further our understanding of how many dolphins there are in the area, if their population is increasing or decreasing, the importance of different locations along the coastline for foraging and breeding, as well as inform us on how we can improve our practices to ensure our tours are run in an ethical and sustainable way.
The project began in 2022, with the trialling of different data collection strategies leading to the development of a personalised CyberTracker program. This software allows us to efficiently and easily gather information needed to make meaningful contributions to research, including GPS locations, age composition, group sizes and behaviour. CyberTracker also allows us to tailor our data collection methods to the needs of any future research project that may arise, including potential honours, masters and PhD candidates who wish to utilise our research.
We hope to further develop this research project in the future by incorporating dolphin fin ID data (using the distinct nicks and notches on a dolphin’s dorsal fin to identify individuals), allowing us to follow the movements of individual dolphins over time. We now have approximately 60 individual dolphins catalogued; however, this data is currently only collected opportunistically due to the training and effort required by crew to do so.
By contributing to our dolphin research program when purchasing your tickets, you are allowing us to employ dedicated researchers who will focus on data collection and analysis whilst on board, ensuring our research is of high quality and able to contribute to scientific literature and the education of our customers and the broader public.