Within the dolphin communities, males and females will spend most of their time in groups with others of the same gender. Males form groups known as alliances (usually 2-4 dolphins with long-term associations) while females live in larger social groups called ‘bands’. These bands can include as many as 6-8 females plus their offspring. Associations among females are not as strong as those seen among males, preferring to stick with dolphins they are either related to or who are in the same reproductive state- ie. Pregnant or with similar aged calves.
Establishing A Long Term Photo Identification Study
The Marine Parks Association aims to develop and maintain a photo-identification census of all of the Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins which occur within the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park. Through this website, community members will be able to contribute and consolidate data from encounters with our resident dolphins, leading to a better understanding of the social and demographic structure of the population and their relationship with our local marine environment.
Port Stephens Bottlenose Dolphins
The bottlenose dolphin is perhaps one of the most recognisable cetaceans in the world.
The species gets it’s name from the short, stubby beak or snout that resembles a ‘bottle’.
The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) is a species of bottlenose dolphin found in the waters around India, Australia, South China, the Red Sea and the eastern coast of Africa.
Between 90 and 120 individual dolphins live in Port stephens year round. Some groups travel more constantly through the Port but others are more often seen in specific areas, like the West, middle ground and the headlands near the entrance to the Port. They also are found in the Myall and Karuah rivers, but rarely in the lakes.
How to ID a Dolphin
Like many other cetacean species, each dolphin can be identified as an individual. Natural markings (nicks and scars) and variance in dorsal fin shape act as a unique identifier for each dolphin, just like a finger print! In some cases the differences are very obvious, in others they are very subtle.
Using profile (side) shots of an individuals dorsal fin, we can clearly see the various markings which are unique to that individual. In the case of our resident Bottlenose dolphins, individual identification allows us to maintain an accurate census of the population.
To learn more about taking Dolphin ID photographs, click here.