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Published: April 9th 2016
Waiting to feed the dolphins
Young and old enjoy the encounter.
Place names in Australia are interesting - some finding their origin with the original land owners, others from European sailors from the 1770's and on. I was expecting some unusual story where a mystery message washed ashore in a tin can. Nope!
It appears that this is an unusual adaption of the aboriginal land owners name - Tuncanba. Tuncan is the seam mammal we know as a dugong, and ba is 'the place of'. No, we didn't see any dugong, but there is a population of about 120 Australian Humpback Dolphins here.
These dolphins never venture into the outer ocean, but live in the estuaries around Tin Can Bay and Fraser Island. They live long lives, breed very slowly, and are generally a very gentle dolphin. I say generally because should you touch their rib area, they will spin around very fast and send you flying. This is why when the feeding sessions are on, those in the water must keep close so that no dolphin can get behind the viewing public. There were four wildlife officers supervising the feeding today, and we often saw the dolphins nudge them with the beak - they often go home with bruises
Waiting to grab a fish!
However, the supervisor has a great rainbow flag that frightens them away.
on their sit-upons. This nudging is a social interaction within the dolphin family, now shared with their human friends.
I call the officers friends for a couple of reasons. These dolphins bring gifts from time to time and place them in the hands of the wildlife officers. One of the seniors showed Marg and I a personal set of photos taken over the past few years. The dolphins have brought them ancient bottles, a crustacean coated brick, a very old tin can (now that's appropriate) and sponge from a reef. Secondly, they bring their babies with them almost as soon as they are born, and well before they are able to feed. The oldest dolphin in the herd is a spritely 35, and the one in the panorama is 29. There is a baby in the photos - he's 4 and still learning about human interactions, and is inclined to be rather mischievous.
Apparently dolphins see and maybe are attracted to pink. One young lass dressed in pink bent low over the water to submerge her underwater camera. Within minutes, a curious dolphin was nudging the camera with his/her beak. Another quite young girl in pink found a
dolphin approaching quite close too.
There are very few places in Australia where you can feed a dolphin - Tin Can Bay being the only one on mainland Australia. Now, when reading reviews, a person complained that they paid $5.00 for 30 seconds to feed one fish to one dolphin and then got sent out of the water. Today, probably 50 or more people had that same pleasure. If one person gave 3 kgs of fish to one dolphin, no one else would get to share. The children were just so excited this morning as the dolphins gently took the fish from their hands. It is a unique experience, so, please rejoice that so many people got to share the pleasure. We found the dolphin feeding well organised and managed, and hopefully they will be able to maintain this supplementary feeding for the future.
Tin Can Bay is located east of Gympie and a little south of Fraser Island. Many visitors to Fraser Island cross from Inskip Point some distance from here, but only if they are a full 4WD vehicle as driving on the island is only on sand. Tin Can Bay is in an estuarine location
A friendly nudge
These dolphins (mature) weigh around 180kgs, and up to 2.7 meters long.
popular for water sport on well sheltered waters. No surfing here!
When paying for fuel at the local servo, it was painfully slow getting the credit card response from the bank. The servo reminded me that approvals here come via tin cans and string.
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