How much do we know about the dolphin population inhabiting the Swan-Canning Estuary?
The Coastal and Estuarine Dolphin Project (CEDP) aims to ensure the long-term conservation of bottlenose dolphins in metropolitan waters of Perth, Western Australia. CEDP is a collaborative, multi-institutional project, combining the research expertise of Curtin University and Murdoch University with the support of a variety of corporate, government, and community partners including volunteers from the Dolphin Watch project.
In May 2011, a publicly available catalogue of dorsal fin images of all the dolphins observed in the Swan Canning Riverpark and Fremantle Port Inner Harbour, Finbook, was launched.
Download the Finbook
Please feel free to download it – and see if you can distinguish the dolphins – or even better yet, recognise any of them. Finbook provides community members the ability to recognise individual dolphins and contribute information toz help monitor the dolphin population of Perth’s rivers.
Over the last six months (winter and spring 2011), we have been able to identify 18 dolphins already known from Finbook. The majority of them have been frequently seen in the Swan Canning Riverpark. Others are rarely seen. For example, “Fingers” and “Backpack”, two older dolphins (more than 30 years of age), were only seen once at the entrance of the Fremantle Port Inner Harbour.
CEDP covers the waters between Scarborough and Rockingham and the Swan-Canning Estuary. Boat-based photo-identification surveys in the offshore part of the region will help us to determine how far individual dolphins inhabiting the Swan-Canning Estuary are travelling, what habitats are important to them, and when they use these habitats.
So far, four individual dolphins inhabiting the Swan-Canning Estuary, including “Tworakes” and her calf and “UNK28” (Finbook), have been documented in adjacent waters (Owen Anchorage).
Most recently, I was honoured to showcase my research at the Swan River Forum that was held on Wednesday 2nd November 2011. It was a great day where many people working around and on the river shared their work and/or their passion (including community volunteers) with each others.