5 things you’ll find at Adelaide’s dolphin sanctuary

5 things you’ll find at Adelaide’s dolphin sanctuary



Don’t be fooled by the name – the Ade­laide Dol­phin Sanc­tu­ary is home to more than just dol­phins. Here’s what else.


Locat­ed just half an hour’s dri­ve from the Ade­laide CBD in the Port Riv­er and Bark­er Inlet, the Ade­laide Dol­phin Sanc­tu­ary is a great loca­tion for wildlife-watch­ing, a dol­phin boat cruise, casu­al strolls or even kayaking.

It’s one of the few places in the world where you can see wild dol­phins liv­ing so close to a city – and it even gets the occa­sion­al vis­it from south­ern right whales and hump­back whales.

There’s plen­ty to keep a look-out for on your next vis­it to the sanc­tu­ary. Here’s a quick guide:

1. Long-nosed fur seals (Arc­to­cephalus forsteri)

Between 1800 and 1830, long-nosed fur seals almost became extinct as a result of hunt­ing. It took almost 140 years for num­bers to recov­er and now there’s about 100,000 of them liv­ing around South Australia.

On one cold winter’s day in 2016 more than 100 long-nosed fur seals were seen in the Out­er Har­bor break­wa­ters – so keep your eye out if you’re visiting.

5 things you’ll find at Adelaide’s dolphin sanctuary

2. South­ern eagle rays (Mylio­batis tenuicau­da­tus)

The south­ern eagle ray is found in south­ern tem­per­ate waters of Aus­tralia and is recog­nised by its unique grey­ish blue spots and blunt snout.

Eagle rays are a type of fish and can grow up to 3 metres in length and weigh up to 50 kilo­grams. Unfor­tu­nate­ly these majes­tic ani­mals are threat­ened by marine debris and fish­ing, often get­ting caught by com­mer­cial and recre­ation­al fishers.

Until recent­ly south­ern eagle rays were known as Mylio­batis aus­tralis, but they are now called Mylio­batis tenuicau­da­tus.

5 things you’ll find at Adelaide’s dolphin sanctuary

3. Aus­tralian sea lions (Neopho­ca cinerea)

The Aus­tralian sea lion is one of the rarest sea lions in the world with about 85 per cent of the entire pop­u­la­tion found here in SA.

They are an endan­gered species with only 10,00012,000 remain­ing, and are pro­tect­ed in Australia.

For a fas­ci­nat­ing insight into the life of Aus­tralian sea lions, check out the video in our post from World Oceans Day.

5 things you’ll find at Adelaide’s dolphin sanctuary

4. Man­groves

How old do you think a for­est can be? 10 years? 20 years? 1000 years? The man­grove for­est in the Ade­laide Dol­phin Sanc­tu­ary is actu­al­ly 10,000 years old.

Found along the shore­line, man­groves in the sanc­tu­ary are part of the habi­tat that the dol­phins rely on and are home to a wide vari­ety of fish that they prob­a­bly eat.

There’s only one type of man­grove found in SA – the grey man­grove (Avi­cen­nia mari­na), which can grow to a max­i­mum of 5m tall. 

5 things you’ll find at Adelaide’s dolphin sanctuary

5. Dol­phins

Of course, the Ade­laide Dol­phin Sanc­tu­ary would be wrong­ly-named if it wasn’t home to at least a few of these gor­geous crea­tures. In fact, there are 40 dol­phins that live in the sanc­tu­ary per­ma­nent­ly and about anoth­er 300 that are known to vis­it regularly.

Some of the sanctuary’s res­i­dent dol­phins trav­el as far south as Glenelg and one pair can often be seen swim­ming in the near­by Patawa­lon­ga Lake.

5 things you’ll find at Adelaide’s dolphin sanctuary

Indo-Pacif­ic bot­tlenose dol­phins (Tur­siops adun­cus) are the most fre­quent­ly sight­ed dol­phins. These beau­ti­ful crea­tures can grow to 2.5m long and have a large dor­sal fin.

If you’re real­ly lucky, you might also see com­mon bot­tlenose dol­phins (Tur­siops trun­ca­tus) or short-beaked com­mon dol­phins (Del­phi­nus del­phis), but this would be pret­ty rare because they’re usu­al­ly found off­shore in deep­er water.

Hint: Some of the sanctuary’s res­i­dent dol­phins have even been giv­en names, like Twin­kle and Hunter. Famil­iarise your­self with their unique mark­ings and see how many you can recog­nise on your next visit.

Want to know more?

There are plen­ty of ways to get a bet­ter insight into this sub­ur­ban sanctuary:

Remem­ber, if you see any dol­phins, sea lions or oth­er marine mam­mals, don’t be tempt­ed to feed them. You might think you’re doing them a favour but it can actu­al­ly have neg­a­tive con­se­quences, such as ani­mals becom­ing reliant on humans, or try­ing to steal fish from fish­ing lines. And if you’re in a kayak or boat, keep your dis­tance and let the dol­phins come to you. 

5 things you’ll find at Adelaide’s dolphin sanctuary

On your next vis­it, take some snaps, post them to Insta­gram and tag #ade­laidedol­phin­sanc­tu­ary. If you’re a dol­phin-lover, you might like to get involved in theAde­laide Dol­phin Sanc­tu­ary Action Grouptoo.

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in July 2017


This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living