Discover a Dolphin

Project background

The Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Monitoring Program was implemented in 2016. The objectives of this monitoring program are:

  • To obtain baseline data on the movements, abundance, distribution, demography and behaviours of dolphins within the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary.
  • To develop and maintain a long term database of individually identified dolphins with the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary.

To achieve these objectives, boat surveys are currently undertaken along specific transects within the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary. When a group of dolphins is encountered on a survey, images are taken of each dolphin’s dorsal fin for photo-identification purposes.

ADSAG volunteer photographing dolphins
Dolphin dorsal fin
Dolphin dorsal fin
Dolphin dorsal fin
Dolphin dorsal fin
Dolphins can be individually identified by the unique and natural marks on their dorsal fins, including nicks and notches. Secondary markings, such as scratches, pigmentation, and other body markings, can also be used to help aid their identification. These identification photos are used to develop a dolphin identification catalogue, which can later be used to address a variety of research questions.

How you can help

We are looking for dedicated participants to help develop and update the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary photo-identification catalogue. Your time to this project will contribute to the research objectives of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Monitoring Program. By participating in the Discover-a-Dolphin project, you will become trained in photo-identification data-management software DISCOVERY; learn how to process, filter, and assign the photographic quality of images; and learn how to identify and match individual dolphins. This project will build on the photo-identification catalogue developed by Dr Mike Bossley, who has been researching these dolphins for the past 30 years.

Want to be involved?

DISCOVER-a-dolphin is open to all Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Action Group volunteers. If you’re a member of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Action Group and are interested in participating, please contact us.

Alternatively if you are not an Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Action member, but wish to be, please register your interest.

Dolphin fin identification diagram