Insider guide: Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary
Go behind the scenes to discover the unique jobs and passionate people that care for South Australia’s environment.
Cristina Vicente – Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Acting Manager
How would you describe your job to someone at a BBQ?
I’m currently managing the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary (ADS). The ADS is an amazing, beautiful and relatively unknown marine sanctuary in the north of Adelaide that’s home to a wild population of dolphins.
I work in a small team protecting the dolphins and their habitat. Our work is really variable, no two days are ever the same, ranging from important office duties to managing wildlife emergencies. Community engagement and education are also a big part of what we do.
How did you get into this line of work?
Since I was a kid I knew I wanted to work in conservation.
After finishing a Master’s degree in environmental science I travelled through Mexico and Australia working with Marine Turtles – they are my ultimate favourite!
I worked in the non-governmental organisation sector for several years before joining the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) six years ago. I quickly fell in love with the ADS and when a position came up, I took my chance.
What do you encounter in a ‘normal’ day on the job?
There is no normal day at the ADS.
For example, one Monday I went to the office to check my emails and ended up crossing Gulf St Vincent with safety officers to rescue a stranded sperm whale!
During the four years I’ve spent at the ADS I’ve done everything from writing documents and reports to being a part of TV shows. I do community engagement and outreach work, field work and have been involved in all sorts of marine wildlife emergencies.
What’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen at the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary?
Well, I don’t want to be too predictable here, but seeing dolphin calves when they’re brand new (days old) is just amazing. If you spend time at the ADS you get to see some incredible animal behaviours. It’s one of the best wildlife experiences you can have anywhere in the world.
What are your insider tips for visiting the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary?
Forget everything you think you know about the ADS. The Port River and its industrialised environment are just the tip of the iceberg. Jump in a kayak around Garden Island, Barker inlet, Torrens Island or Section Bank on a calm sunny day and discover ‘port paradise’.
Glassy days with no wind are the best for dolphin spotting. Sightings are almost guaranteed year-round at Garden Island and around the inner Port during the winter months. Just bring your camera.
You’re sure to come back!