In 2003, research on the Byron Bay coastal dolphins in Australia began.  This research has provided valuable baseline information on this population.  Results of this research have revealed that the Byron Bay region is utilized by over 1000 bottlenose dolphins that live in highly structured societies. Within this large population, only an estimated 30% are resident throughout the year.  Critical habitats for these resident groups, which consist primarily of females and calves, have been identified within areas of concentrated human activity.

We are currently working to determine the population trends and health over time, which can only be achieved by long-term research projects such as those of Dolphin Research Australia.  We are also continuing research into understanding the complexities of dolphin social structure and residency patterns.  Monitoring of the levels and types of encounters with humans will also continue with research outcomes used as a basis in minimising risk of disturbance and ensuring the health of the population into the future.  Our work with our project partners in Byron Bay is striving to ensure sustainable levels  tourism and other human activities take place to keep the dolphins safe and their environment healthy.

  • Investigate the fine-scale population structure, abundance and trends.
  • Identify resident communities within the region and examine the stability of social and communication systems.
  • Determine basic life-history characteristics, fecundity and birthing success.
  • Identify areas of critical importance to resident, visiting and transient dolphins and monitor temporal and spatial use.
  • Investigate the sympatric associations between coastal species and environmental parameters influencing habitat and resource partitioning.
  • Assess & monitor the effects of short & long-term human activities and environmental health on coastal dolphins.

This provides important information on the ecology of the species, their health and informs conservation planning and management to ensure the protection of the animals and their habitats for the future.