There won’t be any birds in this post but surely everyone loves dolphins. So I thought I’d share some pictures from a recent trip. This wild dolphin was playing just in front of me in the shallows.
These were taken in a town called Bunbury, about 2 hours drive south of Perth. The town is built by a lovely bay, which happens to be a perfect home for dolphins. It’s shallow and sheltered, and has plenty of fish in it. And lots and lots of dolphins.
There’s a dolphin visitor centre and the wild dolphins frequently come to shore all year round. When a dolphin comes to the shore at the centre someone rings a bell. Visitors and volunteers then stand in a line, thigh deep in the water. The wild dolphins then come and have a look and a play. It’s one of the few places in Australia where you can do this. Each one might stay for just 2 minutes, or even for as long as an hour, it’s up to the dolphin. Sometimes they come on their own, sometimes several come together. Sometimes they might not come at all for a while – there are no guarantees with wild animals.
It’s just a breath taking experience. It’s hard to think that they’re completely wild, they’re so curious and confident in the company of all those people. You don’t touch them or feed them, just stand while they swim around you. About 90 of them live in the bay all of the time, and about 200 are regular visitors to it. About 20 of them are regular visitors to the shore. Last year, one of the females brought her calf in to show it off less than 24 hours after it was born – I wish I’d seen that.
The centre runs boat tours around the bay, and also trips to swim with the dolphins in the bay. When we arrived a trip came in where the visitors had been in the water with one group for about 45 minutes.
They’re all bottlenose dolphins. The bay is especially safe for raising young because so much of it is too shallow for sharks to live and hunt in, and sharks are their main predators.
We went on the boat tour and it was amazing. We must have seen 40 – 50 dolphins while we were out. We were told that the group in the picture above were probably all mothers and calves. The calves aren’t tiny – they looked pretty much full size, but they stay with their mum for several years. The youngest would have been at least 9 months old as this year’s calves hadn’t been born yet. It was such an amazing trip that I’ll be going back again soon in the hope of seeing one of this season’s calves.