A CLOSE encounter with Port Phillip’s resident dolphins during a day on the bay can be memorable.
But there is a right way and several wrong ways to enjoy the experience – preferably from a safe, non-threatening distance.
Dolphin Research Institute executive director Jeff Weir says the bay is a “giant nursery for dolphins, so it’s crucial we show them respect”.
The institute is set to release a summer Dolphin Distancing campaign, but Weir last week was prompted to speak out before it gets underway following reports of dolphins being harassed at Canadian Bay, Mount Eliza.
“Sharon”, who did not wish to be identified, saw and photographed a jet ski and a motor boat being driven through the pod of dolphins.
“They nearly plowed right over them more than once,” the Mornington Peninsula resident said.
She said the dolphins endured the interruption to their feeding for 10 to 15 minutes before heading south towards Mornington with the boat in hot pursuit. The jet ski went north, towards Frankston.
“As warm weather approaches, I’d hate to see our dolphins struggle to get a good feed where we can watch them because people selfishly turn it into an interactive circus,” Sharon said.
“I regularly have dolphins swimming alongside the boat when I’m sailing – some with scars on their backs due to boat props. People need better education if they’re going to be out there.”
Weir said the institute was asking people in boats “to respect our dolphins”.
“It’s really common sense. People who sign up will be sent a sticker to proudly show on their vessel and help to change the social norm on the water.
“It’s OK if dolphins approach you but swimmers, boaters and people on jet skis shouldn’t approach closer than 30 metres, 100 metres and 300 metres, respectively.”
Sign up for Dolphin Distancing at dolphinresearch.org.au