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Published on : Friday, July 24, 2015
‘Flopper’, a dolphin left with a floppy fin after a shark attack, and ‘Scream’, who gave birth to a calf in March, were two of 91 dolphins counted at Port Stephens in a dolphin census conducted by volunteer nature-lovers on June 28, 2015.
The release of the census results, compiled by Marine Parks Association Education Coordinator, Lisa Skelton, confirms a healthy population of dolphins in Port Stephens on par with the average number of dolphins – 91 – sighted across the 15 years the census has been conducted.
A total of 64 camera-toting volunteers manned 43 on-shore and on-water sites during the one-hour dolphin count on June 28, which was coordinated by Port Stephens whale and dolphin expert, Frank Future, from Imagine Cruises along with Lisa Skelton who also works for the dolphin and whale cruise operator.
The volunteer-based census is the longest-running community dolphin count in Australia and supports dolphin conservation and other studies conducted by research institutes. The annual census has also been supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
This year the annual dolphin census was integrated into Port Stephen’s first-ever Naturefest program in June, a festival created by dolphin-watch operators, Imagine Cruises, Moonshadow Cruises and Tamboi Queen Cruises and supported by d’Albora Marina Nelson Bay, Destination Port Stephens and Port Stephens Council to showcase the region’s natural scenery and wildlife in winter.
Ms Skelton thanked all the volunteers who helped make the census a success this year. “We all love our dolphins in Port Stephens and important initiatives like this help ensure the local population is abundant and healthy,” Ms Skelton said.
Destination Port Stephens CEO, Janelle Gardner, said Port Stephens was famous for its dolphins and the census confirmed they would remain pivotal to the region’s appeal. “The census showed visitors can see a large number of dolphins in Port Stephens, which also boasts many koalas, kangaroos, varieties of birds and also whales in winter,” Ms Gardner said. “During the cooler months, our promotions have successfully highlighted this rich wildlife and our pristine scenery so that the market knows we offer so much more than amazing beaches.”