Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary hosts an uncommon visitor

Date posted: 31 October 2012

Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary staff, volunteers and visitors were treated to the first ever recorded sighting of a common dolphin in the Port Adelaide River area this week (Monday, October 29).

The Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, located on the Port Adelaide River and Barker Inlet, is home to a protected population of 30 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins.

Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary manager, Cristina Vicente, said the event was “rare” because common dolphins typically prefer travelling in pods in open, deep waters.

“They can often be seen along the Adelaide metropolitan coast, but we have never had a report of one in the Port Adelaide River,” Ms Vicente said.

“We are unsure why the single common dolphin was found in the sanctuary, it may have been lost, wanted to check the area for food or may have been bow-riding on one of the ships or tugs as it entered the river.”

Ms Vicente said common dolphins are smaller, move faster and have different colourings with a yellowish belly instead of the uniform grey colour of the bottlenose dolphins.

The unique event was first witnessed by long-term Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary volunteer, Marianna Boorman, who regularly patrols the sanctuary to monitor the resident bottlenose dolphin population.

“Initially I was concerned there may have been something wrong with the dolphin because sometimes when they are unwell they stray from their pod and end up in unfamiliar areas, however this was not the case with this dolphin, which appeared healthy ” Ms Boorman said.

Ms Boorman said she first spotted the dolphin moving towards the centre of Port Adelaide.

“It travelled past the lighthouse, under Birkenhead and Jervois bridges and to the railway bridge at the end of the river,” she said.

“It stopped for a short period to fish and interact with a resident bottlenose dolphin before it moved into deeper waters at around dusk.”

The Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary is driven by community members and is managed by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

For more information about the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary telephone 08 8240 0193 or visit

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Alex Taylor
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