OUR DOLPHINS

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By: A.J.

Hi there readers this is A.J, with an article on one of our Marine Mammals that can be seen in the Port Phillip, Western Port Bays, and sometimes even around St Kilda Pier (if you are lucky); our friend the Dolphin. The place I have seen them mainly though is at Sorrento whilst crossing to Queenscliff on the ferry.

I love to watch their antics as they swim around after fish and jump up out of the water. I am sure, readers, that you would enjoy one of the tours down at Sorrento, to see them.

There are about 36 species of Dolphin around the world, ranging from the smallest Hector’s Dolphin to the largest of all Dolphins; the Orca (Killer Whale). One of the latest species to be identified was the Australian Snubfin Dolphin, named in 2005. The Snubfin has a rounded head, a short, stubby dorsal fin, and lives in small groups across the Northern Australian Coast.

Most Dolphins are similar to the Bottlenose Dolphin; with a slim beak and a dorsal fin. Others, like Orcas, have rounded heads with blunt beaks.

Did you know that Dolphins can swim up to 40kmh? They can move as fast, or faster, than many boats. Dolphins communicate with each other using physical signals; like head-butting, jaw-snapping, leaping out of the water or slapping their tails on the water surface. They have an individual whistle and use sounds to warn others of danger.

Dolphins use a type of sonar, known as Echolocation, to form sound pictures of their environment; they listen to the echoes from their own clicking noises. Clicks bounce back when they reach an object and these echoes tell the Dolphin everything they need to know about their environment.

Dolphins have great hearing: The highest frequency a Bottlenose Dolphin can hear is 150,000 Hz, compared to a human which can only hear up to 20,000 Hz. Dolphin sonar is so powerful that it stuns fish, making them easier to catch. They are also very intelligent in ways of memory, communication, hunting, and play.

Pods of Dolphins visit our shores and bays all the time and we should respect their environment as well as our own. Most places where Tourists can visit wild Dolphins have rules to protect them; boats should stay at least 100 metres away, jet skis at least 300 metres, and swimmers and surfers should stay at least 30 metres away. It is OK though if the Dolphin approaches you.

Research into Dolphins is being done all the time, so that we can all gain a better understanding of them. I love watching them and their antics always amaze me. I am sure readers that you would love them too. Soon I will adopt a Dolphin to help research and education into our wonderful Dolphins.

In this article I have used some information from The Dolphin Research Institute at Hastings and I thank them all very much for their help and assistance. Thanks also to “Flipper”.

Till next time readers.

A.J.

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