Tangalooma, Moreton Island - Queensland

  • Posted by EDrury46
  • November 4, 2012 7:40 AM AEDT
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Tangalooma (Moreton Island, Queensland) and its Dolphin Care Program.
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Tangalooma, is on first look, a seaside holiday resort. Yet, there is far more to this part of Moreton Island than meets the eye. Originally a whaling station (before whaling was banned and the site sold as a resort), this part of the island is now a hubbub of marine conservation and education.

 

 

Tourists flock to the western part of the island to go whale watching or just to tour the island (by car or foot), visit its Marine Education and Conservation Centre, take part in water sports or more extreme land sports. But, perhaps the island's biggest attraction is its Dolphin Feeding sessions.

 

Every evening, a school of dolphins (or pod, if you prefer) approach the shore and are fed up to about 10% of their daily food requirement by tourists who wade sometimes up to waist-deep into the water to hand feed these magnificent creatures. The Tangalooma Dolphin Care Program ensures that people can be educated about dolphins, their habits, their habitat and how the program works. It also ensures that the dolphins fed each evening remain completely wild. They do this in the following ways:

  1. Only those who really, really want to feed the dolphins enter the water, in pairs with a guide, whilst everyone else remains further back on the beach or the jetty.
  2. Those entering the water must not wear sunscreen, insect repellent, jewellery etc. and must have disinfected their hands before handling the fish - this is due to dolphins having very delicate skin that could be seriously damaged my humans 'patting' them/scratching them accidentally with jewellery/the sunscreen and insect repellent chemicals damaging their eyes etc.
  3. Anyone with any form of respiratory illness cannot feed the dolphins because human illnesses can be easily transferred from human to dolphin.
  4. By disallowing physical contact between humans and dolphins this results in not encouraging the dolphins to trust humans, resulting in them remaining a certain level of distrust for humans which in turn will protect them from harm from other humans.
  5. By limiting the amount of fish given to the dolphins each evening, the dolphins are forced to still retain their wild hunting habits to feed themselves the rest of the time.

It is an incredible experience, to feed a wild dolphin, even if it isn't partaken of in the romanticised 'swimming with dolphins' experience described in books and film. It is something 'real', where the dolphins are respected as wild animals and the tourists learn to respect the dolphins for their natural behaviour and the marine conservationists for their work in protecting the dolphins from becoming tame and in educating humans in all matters of marine conservation.

 

It is thanks to programmes such as the various marine conservation programmes at Tangalooma that the marine life in Australia is protected and there for tourists to discover and learn about; and thanks to these programmes, the Australian marine life will be around for many years to come. 

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