Dolphins have a jelly good time

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Picture: Dolphin Research Centre

DOLPHINS spend a lot of time rounding up food and socialising but researchers were intrigued when they were spotted swimming among a large group of jellyfish.

Common dolphins living near Mornington were photographed for identification purposes when they appeared to be playing with the blue blubber jellyfish.

“It’s always a treat to witness their leaps and sometimes full somersaults, as they herd fish or just seem to play,” Dolphin Research Institute executive director Jeff Weir said.

“Their eyesight is good both above and below water, so when they leap or spyhop they can most certainly see other dolphins and boats. Maybe it’s like when we stand on tippy-toes or jump to find our kids or partner in a crowd?

“Puzzling though, was the sight of dolphins playing with the big blue-blubber jellyfish that were present in huge numbers. We watched them rub the length of their body against the jellyfish, finishing with a flick of their tail.”

Mr Weir said the jellyfish were common in Victorian waters and “only have a mild sting on their stumpy arms”.

“Who knows? Maybe the dolphins were enjoying the sensation of the mild stimulation? Sometimes leaps seem to follow a jellyfish rub. Maybe they were happy? Maybe they were trying to remove the stingers?”

Although the blue-blubber jellyfish are commercially fished and, when dried, are considered a delicacy in some Asian countries, the dolphins were not seen to be eating them.

Information about boating rules and protecting dolphins are available at www.dolphinresearch.org.au and sightings of dolphins can be logged at dolphinresearch.org.au or call 5979 7100.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 19 November 2019

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