Port River dolphins in new population study

A new study is being undertaken to better understand the population size and behaviours of the Upper Port River dolphins.

The year-long study will collect baseline data on the number of dolphins frequenting the Port River and report on their behaviours as well as other aspects of the habitat that might influence their well-being.

The commissioned study is jointly funded by Renewal SA and the City of Port Adelaide Enfield and is being led by Dr Mike Bossley, Science and Education Manager at the Whale & Dolphin Conservation (WDC) who says the Port River dolphins are a precious asset of international significance.

“The ongoing presence of a small subset of these dolphins in the Inner Port area is already a tourist drawcard and it is important to ensure they continue to thrive in the area,” said Dr Bossley.

“With increased activities in the inner harbour the government has wisely decided to fund research to monitor the numbers using the area” he said.

“The Port River estuary is important for the dolphins because it has abundant fish, few predators and it is protected from rough weather. However, the estuary also has numerous hazards the dolphins must deal with including pollution, entanglements, noise and deliberate attacks.”

“As their home, the Port River habitat is critical to dolphin conservation as it provides all the necessities for life.”

Observation stations located at Harts Mill and Birkenhead will be used to collect the data which will provide insight for economic development and tourism initiatives in Port Adelaide.

Renewal SA Chief Executive, Fred Hansen, says the study is an important collaboration between government and conservation organisations to understand the Port River dolphin population.

“Renewal SA strongly supports the work of WDC and the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary in their efforts to better understand the Port River dolphins and is pleased to be able to work with both organisations on this project” he said.

“The Port River dolphins are vital to the community not only a much loved tourist attraction, but also as an important economic driver which attracts more people to be living, working, spending time and investing in the Port”.

The dolphin baseline study is jointly funded by Renewal SA and the City of Port Adelaide Enfield.