Bottlenosed dolphin at the surface MLSSABottlenosed dolphin at the surface MLSSA

Among South Australia’s most beloved marine species are the bottlenosed dolphins, Tursiops sp. Dolphins which forage, feed and rear their young in inshore environments like Tursiops are vulnerable to various threats in the marine environment. These include the possibility of being struck by a boat, personal water craft or propeller, becoming entangled in discarded or lost fishing tackle, or having their wild foraging behaviors altered by people actively attracting the dolphins by baiting and hand-feeding them. Their health can also be impacted by various forms of marine pollution from industrial and domestic sources.

As such, there are various groups active on Facebook which draw attention to South Australia’s dolphins, dolphin conservation and related habitat protection initiatives. The list below provides a collection of these, so that people interested in these subjects can connect with like-minded people and help encourage others to act responsibly when around dolphins or sharing their environment. Some of these groups also advocate directly to government to help shape relevant laws and regulation.

Also listed are businesses in South Australia offering guided dolphin tours (on water or shore-based).

Please add a comment below if you know of a group, initiative or relevant business not yet featured in these lists.


Dolphin watching, citizen science & advocacy groups

Facebook page or group Year created Description
WDC – The Port River Dolphins 2008 WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (formerly WDCS) is the leading global charity dedicated to the conservation and protection of whales and dolphins.
Adelaide Dolphin contact stories (group) 2010 A place to record and share personal stories of contact with Dolphins in and around the city of Adelaide in South Australia. Dedicated to Dr Mike Bossley for his work with and for the Port River dolphins. Initiated by Brett Stokes.
Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch 2011 Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch is an award winning community volunteer project in partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation, monitoring dolphin populations on Kangaroo Island since 2005 and Victor Harbor since 2011. Developing understandings of custodianship of these fascinating creatures and their habitats, dolphins are monitored unobtrusively, minimising impacts and behavioural change, collecting vital baseline data to globally inform practise.
Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary – Action Group 2012 Our vision is a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free.
Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch (group) 2012 A group for all the wonderful volunteers, friends and supporters of Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch.
Dolphin Watch Adelaide (group) 2012 Objectives:

  • To raise awareness about the Port River dolphins.
  • To aim for stronger laws to protect the dolphins. To collect information on dolphin sightings such as location, behaviour, movements, group numbers, pairings, mother and calves, etc.
  • To collate observations for ADS (Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary), WDCS (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society), AMWRRO (Australian Marine Wildlife Research & Rescue Organisation) etc.
  • To report on dolphin injuries, signs of illness, and human interference.
  • To report in local newspapers to raise awareness and interest.
  • To highlight dolphin issues in regional SA, such as the problems with hand feeding dolphins.
  • To highlight dolphin issues interstate and globally.
  • To highlight and inform of the negative effects on captive dolphins such as at Sea World and other marine theme parks.
  • To link in with other active dolphin watch programmes including WDC, Swan River Trust Dolphin Watch WA, etc.
  • To work with ADS and other concerned experts, on dolphin welfare in our Sanctuary and River.
The Official Port River Dolphin Watch (group) 2013 The Official Port River Dolphin Watch group is a simple program to enjoy watching the dolphins and document what they do and where they are. It’s about fun, and it’s about watching and learning about these wonderful beings. We are so lucky they live in our river system, and it’s up to us to keep that river system safe for them through conservation efforts. I would like to acknowledge the research of Mike Bossley who has been studying the Port River dolphins for over 25 years. Mike has catalogued and identified over 225 dolphins, and I thank him for the identifications he has shared with me. Mike Bossley runs the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC).
Adelaide Dolphin Study 2016 Jenni Wyrsta is researching the dolphin pods off the Adelaide beaches from the Temptation Sailing Dolphin Watch cruise. These are Bottlenose and Common dolphins.

Dolphin tourism operators

Facebook page Year created Description
Dolphin Explorer 2010 Dolphin watching tours of the Port River in a large, comfortable vessel.
Tania’s Dolphin Tales 2015 Join Tania in an enlightening walking tour brimming with her rich philosophy into the world of dolphins and her knowledge of the Port River and its ecosystem. Expect compelling insights into the daily habits of these enchanting marine mammals. Operating Wed-Sun.

Special events dedicated to dolphins

Facebook page Year created Description
Dolphin Spirit Dreaming Festival 2019 Dolphin Spirit Dreaming Festival is a one-day, family-friendly event coming to the Semaphore foreshore (Kaurna land) in February, 2020. It will be a celebration of indigenous and non-indigenous connection to the coast and marine environment featuring performances, activities for children and workshops. The richness of indigenous culture, ceremony, dance, song and ancient knowledge will be presented in partnership with non-indigenous environmental groups whose work aligns with the traditional values of Caring for Country. The event will be held in the spirit of reconciliation and inclusion, will be free to attend and presents a great opportunity to strengthen your connection with the coastal and marine environment for the heart mind and soul.

By Dan Monceaux

Dan Monceaux is a documentary filmmaker with a keen interest in marine biodoversity and conservation issues. He joined MLSSA in 2013 and served as Secretary from April-December 2014. Dan snorkels and has burning passions for underwater photography and citizen science.

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