Feeding the dolphins seemed like a good idea until I discovered it was best to get up at the crack of dawn, because when the dolphins show up, and that could be anytime once the sun’s up, they want their breakfast. It isn’t a usual thing to feed the dolphins in Australia, in fact it is illegal and there are only 2 places in Australia where they allow it as part of a conservation program. That’s Monkey Mia in WA (tick) and Tin Can Bay in QLD (tick).
I’m not an early bird like Glen, so I was in a particularly grumpy mood at 6am, especially when I then had to get on my bike and ride to the feeding place which was at least ooooohh, 6 minutes away!!
I found Monkey Mia to be a bit on the commercial side and very expensive, however Tin Can Bay is much more down to earth and only $5 to paddle with the dolphins and $10 if you want to shove a fish in its mouth. Bargain!!
Once we got to Barnacle boat ramp and into the water with these beautiful creatures, my sleep deprivation instantly left me and I perked up no end. The dolphins in Tin Can Bay are Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins, which I haven’t seen before. They are bigger than the Bottlenose and their faces are very cute, which are mottled with freckles as if they’ve been out in the sun for way too long. So we payed our $5, washed our hands in sanitation liquid and then waded into the water with a few others to be just feet away from a family of 4 beautiful Humpbacks. They were very well behaved and were lined up in a row waiting patiently. They would be so gentle as they took a small fish out of the hand of a child, so lovely to watch! We had a very nice lady tell us all about this pod which we video’d some of it here.
It all started over 30 years ago with “Scarry” nicknamed due to the numerous rough edges along her dorsal and tail fins. “Scarry” appeared with a young male dolphin, Mystique, believed to be her youngest surviving offspring.
“Scarry” has not been seen since early 2003 but her son Mystique and girlfriend “Patch” still come in to Barnacle boat ramp to observe humans and be hand fed most mornings (well why wouldn’t you). Apparently Mystique likes to ‘observe’ the pretty blond humans, especially if they are wearing short shorts! He nuzzles up to them and with his head to the side and one eye open will quite happily ‘observe’ for hours, or until a fish is shoved in his direction! I just hope Patch isn’t the jealous type.
The volunteer showed us a range of items that the dolphins have brought to the shore over the years. They carry items such as bottles and cans on their rostrum (nose) and dump them in the hands of a human, usually in exchange for a piece of fish. The volunteers are convinced it is their way of saying, ‘Look, this is not ours and DOES NOT BELONG IN THE OCEAN, CLEAR UP YOUR OWN MESS!’ So the dolphins do a jolly good job of helping us keep the beaches clean. Recently a glass bottle was bought in by Patch, which was a milk bottle that went out of circulation over 40 years ago!
We hung out with the dolphins for at least 2 hours and were finally dragged away by our rumbling tummies letting us know that the dolphin breakfast was over and ours was way overdue!
Mmmmmmm Sardines on toast anyone?
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