As winter is coming to an end I thought I would give you quick update on how our dolphin research is going.
Since we started in January we have observed 343 groups of dolphins and identified approximately 400 individuals in our study area.
We can tell the dolphins apart from each other by the unique nicks and notches on the trailing edge of their dorsal fin.
Although we have observed dolphins move in and out of the Peel-Harvey, we have been able to separate the animals into those who mainly spend time in the Peel-Harvey waterways and those that mainly reside in coastal waters.
We have identified approximately 100 individuals in the Peel-Harvey with about 30 of these always seen mainly in Dawesville Cut.
We routinely look for the animals we encounter in catalogues of dolphin fins from similar studies in Bunbury and Perth.
So far we have made four matches to the Bunbury catalogue and 11 to the Perth catalogue.
This information is very valuable for us to better understand the movement patterns of dolphins using our study area.
We have also commenced collecting tissue samples for genetic analyses, which will be used to investigate population genetic structure.
So far all the seasons have been different.
In the summer months we had new calves been born.
All 13 calves born in the Peel-Harvey this year are still accounted for!
Autumn and winter in contrast have been the seasons for feeding.
We very much look forward to spring, not only to see what the dolphins get up to but also to have better weather.
The Mandurah Dolphin Research Project is a partnership between Murdoch University, City of Mandurah and Mandurah Cruises that commenced in January 2016.
They are measuring how many dolphins use the Peel-Harvey waterways and how they are connected to dolphins in nearby coastal waters.
You can follow the project on Facebook or through this fortnightly column.