Fin review: Mandurah boaties need to take heed of our dolphins this summer

Beautiful creatures: A Peel-Harvey resident calf called Sooty. Photo: supplied.
Beautiful creatures: A Peel-Harvey resident calf called Sooty. Photo: supplied.

Summer is the season when most of us enjoy days on water in the Peel-Harvey. Boating, swimming, crabbing or fishing, we all have our favourite activities.

Although the resident Peel-Harvey dolphins can be seen throughout the waterways in the summer, Mandurah town waters appear to be one of the areas where high human and dolphin activity coincide. 

Not only do the dolphins travel through, but they also feed, socialize and rest in this area.

This summer is also special as three of the resident female dolphins, Bowie, Prince and Lucy have already given birth to new calves earlier this month.

Several more calves are expected to be born to the resident community toward the end of summer and in autumn.

As we share the waterways, to ensure the wellbeing and safety of our dolphins, I would like to remind everyone of the code of conduct around them. 

In WA, the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, which has now come to force, aims to ensure the conservation and protection of biodiversity in our State.

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The regulations of this Act dictate the code of conduct around dolphins.

For approach distances, if you are in the water swimming, you are required to stay a minimum of 50 meters away from dolphins. If you are on a boat, or any other watercraft, the distance you need to keep is 100m.

Especially in the shallows of the estuary and in narrow, and often busy channels and canals of our waterways, give the dolphins space and time to move freely without following or crowding them.

Although the Mandurah dolphins do not show any evidence in their behaviour they have been fed by humans, I feel it’s important to remind everyone it is illegal to feed them.

Feeding may result in begging behaviour, which in turn may alter individuals’ social interactions with other dolphins and may also lead to females not adequately looking after their young.

A local dolphin bowriding a boat. Photo: supplied.

A local dolphin bowriding a boat. Photo: supplied.

I hope in Mandurah, by following the code of conduct, we can lead by example and enjoy the dolphins without impacting their wellbeing.

Krista Nicholson is a PhD candidate with Murdoch University.