One of my 2021 resolutions was to try and see at least one new mammal in the wild every month. Obviously this is not entirely up to me, given animals do what animals do, but at least its a motivational target to get me off my butt.
January’s target species was Bottlenose Dolphins. In the off-whalewatching season, boat tour companies at Coffs Harbour offer dolphin watching trips, thanks to a resident pod of dolphins near Boambee Beach, a popular surf spot. Wife and I booked ourselves a weekend away and went on a morning tour. We saw two dolphins for the briefest of moments and nothing else despite the efforts of Mac, the skipper’s terrier who roams the deck and barks when he sees/smells/hears (?) dolphins. We were invited to come back and try again for free, and may do so next summer.
The next day we hiked up the headland near where we had seen the two dolphins surface. No luck then, so we went back down to the car and started discussing lunch. Eagle-eyed Wife looks out the front of the car and points. There is a pod of 5 dolphins, swimming parallel to the waves. We and the surfers stopped and watched the pod for around 20 minutes. Success!
There are two species of bottlenose dolphin in the area : the Indo-Pacific (Tursiops aduncus) which will swim in close to shore, and the Common Bottlenose (T. truncatus) which tends to stay out in deeper waters. The skipper of the tour boat says these were Common but I emailed both the local sealife park and the nearby research station and both of them assured me they were Indo-Pacific. Brilliant!
Mammal watching total = 26