Dolphin baby boom in bay

Phil CoulthardSouth Western Times
Ranger has added to the dolphin baby boom in Koombana Bay.
Camera IconRanger has added to the dolphin baby boom in Koombana Bay. Credit: Dolphin Discovery Centre

Crack open the cigar box everyone, I am happy to confirm the arrival of five baby dolphins to the Bunbury population over the past 10 days!

Although we expect most of our new calves to be born around this time, it is always really exciting when a new calf is introduced, especially considering the last two breeding seasons have delivered a lower than expected calf recruitment rate.

All five babies appear to be fit and healthy and have spent most of their recovery time within Koombana Bay and along to the north, however the busy Easter long weekend must have been too much, forcing them out of the area.

Knowing the protection of Koombana Bay is critical for their early development, I hope to see them returning now that the Easter boat traffic has slowed down.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


The proud new mums include Zenith, Zazu, Flash and Isis with another mum still to be identified.

Weighing about 30kg and no longer than your arm, these little babies are easy to spot due to their small size, wrinkled appearance and awkward swimming style.

It will take them many weeks to learn how to swim and breathe effectively so their mums have formed a strategic network of maternal groups that not only promotes the calf’s development, but also provides a safe and supportive environment for all the dolphins in the group.

These links also ensure the babies are able to develop their “dolphin” skills alongside relatives their own age and gives them the confidence to move away from mum’s care and into their own juvenile group once they are weaned three to fours years later.

The latest arrivals to the population are also a welcome relief following the loss of two local babies earlier in the season.

Mums Shanty and Levy are permanent residents of Koombana Bay and both lost their babies within a few days of birth.

Unfortunately the natural mortality rate of dolphin calves in the wild is higher than you would expect, thanks mainly to the harsh realities and unpredictability of their marine environment.

Of course there are unfortunate links with human impact that we must also consider, including the short and long-term impacts of boat activity, entanglements, underwater noise and environmental pollution.

For this reason, research work continues to expand at the Dolphin Discovery Centre.

In time, the aim will be to better understand our own population and ensure we are capable of identifying any issues that may impact their long-term sustainability.

For now we will assume the breeding season will kick on as expected with up to 10 calves appearing in our local waters over the next month or so.

Research expeditions along the coast, both north to Binningup and south to Peppermint Beach, will also be undertaken in an attempt to identify the majority of calves born this season.

For those who spend time out on the water and see a new calf, please remember to give them as much space as possible.

Logging any sightings of dolphins with new calves on the Dolphin Discovery Centre’s Dolphin Watch App would also be helpful for our research team.

You can download either the Android or iPhone smartphone App for free by going to your I-Tunes or Google Store.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails