Identifying Dolphins



» Download a free copy of FinBook

The new 7th edition of FinBook, a photographic guide to dolphins in the Swan Canning Riverpark, has been released to help the community monitor Perth’s dolphin population.

FinBook is a catalogue of dorsal fin images for dolphins observed in the Swan Canning Riverpark and Fremantle Port Inner Harbour from 2008 to 2018. Dolphins are most easily identified by scars and other markings on their dorsal fins.

To become an official Dolphin Watcher and actively participate in the Dolphin Watch project, attend a free Dolphin Watch training session. These are held intermittently through the course of the year – check out our What’s On page or follow us on social media for details of upcoming sessions.

Riverpark dolphins

Previous research of the Swan River dolphin community discovered a community of approximately 20-25 dolphins that use the river almost every day.

This group includes several adult females with dependent calves, one or two ‘alliances’ of tightly-bonded adult males, and a large group of sociable youngsters. The research indicates that many, if not all the Swan River dolphin community are likely to have grown up in the Swan River and have local knowledge that is important to their survival. These dolphins are likely to know where the fish are available to eat and return to these spots regularly.

The research identified the dolphins by the distinctive shape of their dorsal fins and collected valuable information about their range, habitat, behaviour and feeding. The Dolphin Watch project has an identification chart of the Swan River dolphin community’s dorsal fins that helps volunteers to identify sighting of these mammals.