OK, dolphins aren’t uniquely Australian – they live in all the world’s oceans – but I’ve only ever seen them in Australia, and Elliot chose them for my next animal to write about so here goes. Dolphins need very little introduction and masses has been written about them, so I’ll leave the relevant link to wikipedia and just talk about our experiences with them.
The picture above is my first (and best) shot of a dolphin. It’s a bit blurry, but I’ve never since got a shot anywhere near as good as this one. We were on a whale-watching boat trip from Hervey Bay near Fraser Island, and had not long left the harbour. I, of course, had my camera at the ready and was on full alert for any type of cetacean action. The call went out for dolphins at the back of the boat where I was, and suddenly there it was, jumping right by my feet. My camera was set up for action pictures, but this was a complete ‘grab shot’, no time to think about framing or focusing or anything, just instinct (and luck!). The image is only cropped at the top and bottom, and the lens was at 70mm – which means it was only about 2m from me. I know I’ve said it before, but you really do get a whole lot closer to wildlife in Australia. I got this one picture, and then the dolphin was gone. We didn’t see any more dolphins, although we saw plenty of humpback whales – but that’s another blog post.
You sometimes see dolphins from St Kilda pier in Melbourne, although we only have once. The picture above was taken on a cold and windy August day (that’s the middle of winter, Northern Hemispherians!), and it was great to see the dolphins but it was almost as good to get back inside the café there.
These were taken from the Big Duck boat trip in Victor Harbour. It was a beautiful day, we had the boat to ourselves along with the captain, and it was a whole lot of fun bouncing around on the swell. We saw all sorts but the highlight was getting up close to this pod of dolphins fishing – they round up the fish a little like sheepdogs and then pick off whatever they want to eat. Spot the baby dolphin in a couple of shots too.
It’s not uncommon to see dolphins from the shore – they like surfing in the waves and catching the fish close to shore. We were camping at Shipwreck Creek near Mallacoota when we saw lots of dolphins just beyond the waves at the Betka River lagoon. We had the kayaks so Felix and I rushed to get them ready – what could be cooler than paddling with dolphins? The waves were a reasonable size, but we were paddling out well and looking forward to seeing the dolphins up close and then surfing back in. We were nearly out past the breakers when a much larger wave came and dumped us both out of our kayaks. We got hold of the kayaks and paddles, swam back to shore somewhat chastened and went for a paddle in the lagoon instead, where there were definitely no waves. It was good but there were no dolphins. No photographs survive either, which is perhaps just as well…
And remember – any day with dolphins is always a good day!