Roebuck Bay Working Group, a regional hub in the Inspiring WA network, recently partnered with the Dolphin Watch project to train 40 new volunteers in Marine Fauna sightings application. These volunteers are now equipped with the skills to support the monitoring activities of local dolphin populations.
Roebuck Bay is home to the highest known density of snubfin dolphins across their species distribution! These dolphins are monitored periodically through high intensity census surveys to understand habitat use, seasonality of their movements in and around the Bay and important life history events such as the birth of calves.
The 40 volunteers attended a dolphin ecology and behaviour training session on 2 May, delivered by Dolphin Watch researchers; Dr Holly Raudino and Mr Jason Menzies. This was followed by a field day on 4 May on Yawuru sea country, giving the group the opportunity to apply their identification skills and practice recording dolphin data in the Marine Fauna Sightings application. Both snubfin and bottlenose dolphins were sighted, photographed and reported by volunteers. The practical session was made possible by the generous support of local tour operator, Absolute Ocean Charters, who hosted the group aboard their vessel Contessa C. Interestingly, bottlenose dolphins were only sighted by the Dolphin Watchers aboard the tour vessel and not by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) survey vessels, highlighting the valuable contribution of Dolphin Watch volunteers to the census.
The DBCA and Nyamba Buru Yawuru Pty Ltd are the joint managers of the Yawuru Nagulagun Roebuck Bay Marine Park who lead the survey collection. These surveys are a team effort made possible by local DBCA Yawuru rangers and staff, NBY country managers and support from the DBCA Marine Science Program. The Dolphin Watch volunteers and tour operators can now assist in the on-going monitoring of the snubfin dolphins using the marine park.