DEAP heads to the Gold Coast

social dolphins

Bottlenose Dolphins Socialising (c) E. Hawkins 2010

The DEAP team has been awarded a $71,000 national competitive grant from the Australian Marine Mammal Centre to study dolphins in the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads region.

The grant will fund research that will investigate the abundance and habitat preferences of coastal dolphins from Jumpinpin near South Stradbroke Island to the Tweed river mouth.

Dr Liz Hawkins said the research was the first of its kind in the region.

“Very little is known about the dolphin populations on the Gold Coast and Tweed, yet it’s a region of particular interest because the animals are living in a diverse environment,” said Dr Hawkins.

“The research will gather data on how many dolphins there are and where they are, so we can build up a better picture of their habitat preferences and behaviour in the area.

“As well as bottlenosed dolphins, we are particularly interested in the threatened indo-pacific humpback dolphin because the Gold Coast is the southern limit of the known range of this tropical and sub-tropical species.

The researchers, who will begin the first of many boat surveys at the start of the summer, will collect photos of dorsal fins to enable individual dolphins to be identified and their movements and behaviour recorded.

It is hoped the community will play an essential role in the research by reporting  dolphin sightings and sending photos capturing dolphin dorsal fins to help build up a database of information.  Anyone can report sightings of dolphins via our Dolphin Sighting Network.