Dolphin Watch Mandurah

Mandurah Dolphin Research Project

The project was established to conduct a population assessment, including abundance estimation, for dolphins occuping the Peel-Harvey Estuary and adjacent coastal waters. Since our research commenced, we have encountered more than 1200 groups of dolphins and identified over 500 individuals. The Peel-Harvey Estuary is occupied by a year-round resident social community of approximately 90 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus).

MDRP has been a partnership between Murdoch University, City of Mandurah, Peel Development Commission through Royalties for Regions, Mandurah Cruises, Mandurah Volunteer Dolphin Rescue Group, and John and Bella Perry.

Thanks to the super efforts of our Mandurah volunteers over the past two years we've recorded over 2500 dolphin sightings throughout the Peel-Harvey Estuary!

Today (26/6/20), we are so excited to bring you a new research project that will be fully driven by the efforts of our Mandurah Dolphin Watchers. As many of you know, the Dawesville Cut is frequently used by dolphins throughout the year. We have identified a social community of approximately 40 coastal bottlenose dolphins that show high site fidelity to the Cut. Occasionally, dolphins from the Peel-Harvey estuarine community venture into the Cut and interact with the Cut community, however, mostly they appear to avoid the Cut when the coastal dolphins are present.

The new research project will run for one year and, with the help of our Mandurah volunteers, we hope to answer the following questions:

1. Are there seasonal differences in how dolphins use the Dawesville Cut?
2. Does the occurrence of dolphins in the Cut correspond to tidal phases (e.g. high, low, ebb and flow)?
3. Do coastal dolphins and estuarine dolphins vary in their use of the Cut? 

Please read more about the project, including step-by-step instructions on how to help, by reading the special letter drafted by lead researcher from Murdoch University, Krista Nicholson, here.

Responding to dolphin strandings quickly

Mandurah has been identified as a bottlenose dolphin live stranding hotspot. In 1990, 10 male dolphins stranded alive in Lake Goegrup up the Serpentine River. Unfortunately, two of the dolphins passed away but the remaining eight were freeze branded, with numbers 01 to 08 and released into deeper water. Since then, 84 live stranding events have been recorded in the Peel-Harvey Estuary. Approximately half of these have been live strandings involving members of the resident dolphin community.

The Department is partnering with Mandurah Volunteer Dolphin Rescue Group through its Dolphin Watch project and is in the process of installing four (4) surveilance cameras at stranding hot spots. The Department has already allocated $20,000 towards the cost of purchasing and installing these cameras (total cost approx. $40,000), with the remaining costs being met by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, City of Mandurah and donations from members of the public.

This project is supported by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, through funding from the Alcoa Foundation

Identifying the Mandurah dolphins

Now you can identify the dolphins that live in the Peel-Harvey Estuary.

Download FinBook Mandurah.