A recent story caught my attention. In a little community on Australia’s east coast, thousands of people have had the opportunity to meet and feed a family of Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins. Yes, these are the same dolphins that over time can take on a pink color. They are a rare breed of dolphin and to be able to interact with them is quite amazing.
It all started in the 1950s when an injured dolphin named Old Scarry beached himself in Tin Can Bay. Tin Can Bay is located about three hours north of Brisbane. The locals started caring for and feeding Old Scarry. After some time he became well enough to return to deeper waters. He continued to visit for many years, much to the delight of the locals.
Later, another dolphin (a female named Scarry) began visiting the shoreline and receiving handouts. Her son Mystique, his female companion, and a juvenile dolphin now visit daily between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. Volunteers keep control of what is fed and how much fish is given. Thousands of people visit this area each year just to see this dolphin family up close.
The problem is not everyone agrees with the feeding program. The government would like to end it and is currently making moves to do just that. Apparently, a marina is being proposed in the exact same area which would completely displace the dolphins.
My understanding is this area is a rough place for dolphins to live. The two dolphins described above were named “Scarry” due to the numerous scars and injuries on their bodies. The other visiting dolphins have signs of injuries as well. The marks are most likely due to shark attacks and boats.
I worry for them if these changes happen. Clearly now three generations have been taught to come to this area for supplemental food. This has been going on for more than 50 years. What will happen to the dolphins when they lose this opportunity? Won’t an abrupt stop be detrimental? If they do decide to stop the feeding, isn’t there a more humane way? Couldn’t they taper back the food over time and give the dolphins a chance to compensate for the change? I am sure many locals will be sad to see them go.