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Tangalooma Marine Education & Conservation Centre

Eco Certified Ecotourism

Surrounded by 98% national park and built on the picturesque shores of Moreton Island, the Tangalooma Marine Education and Conservation Centre provides an up-close and personal look into the wonderful world of Moreton Bay. A passionate and dedicated team of Eco Rangers provide a wide range of Eco Walks, Tours and Presentations for all ages and backgrounds. These tours are designed to interactively educate people about conservation and their surrounding eco systems. Through education, attitudes can be changed and people can become aware of their environments so they can start making a difference. 

The Marine Education and Conservation Centre (TMECC) is unique from any other facility as the environment is right on the doorstep, with endangered animals frequently passing the shores. Dolphins, Dugongs, Whales, Turtles, Rays, Marine Birds and so much more can be seen daily with interpretative taks provided by the TMECC Eco Rangers. 

TMECC aims to educate young children with an established program called Eco Marines. Eco Marines is a non-for-profit environmental program that assists and sponsors community engagement in advocacy and action to protect domestic and international waterways, rivers, oceans and wildlife.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Dolphin News, 30th June

Again it was great to see all of the dolphins in the feed area last night, and they were all very active.

The dolphins were all  inverted hunting prior to the feed as schools of mullet swum into the feed area, the calves were playing catchings with a puffer fish and Nari, Silhouette and Tangles were all rostrum to rostrum (mouth) passing a fish backwards and forwards to each other for approximately 5 minutes.  Silhouette was also taking off during the feed and hunting mullet under the jetty and Shadow's and Tinkerbell's calves were suckling a lot during the feed too.
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Monday, 29 June 2009
Dolphin News, 29th June

It was great to see all of the 11 dolphins that visit Tangalooma on a regular basis in the feed area last night.

During the feed, Nari took off out the back of the feed area and caught a very large mullet.  The young calves quickly swum over to Nari to see the fish he had just caught.  This is a really important behaviour to observe, as this is how the young calves will learn how to hunt and catch their own fish when they are around 2 years of age and will not be dependent on their mothers for their food.

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Sunday, 28 June 2009
Dolphin News, 28th June

Nari and Bobo did not turn up at the feed last night but staff were not concerned as currently there is a lot of mullet in the Bay and more than likely both Nari and Bobo were too busy catching their own food which just shows that these dolphins do not rely on the programme for their food.

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Saturday, 27 June 2009
Dolphin News, 27th June

A little extra wind last night saw the feed area becoming the perfect place for the dolphins to surf. Being highly intelligent, dolphins are extremely playful animals and surfing in the shallow waves makes for a great pre-dinner activity! Our young male Storm, however, wasn't too happy, slapping his tail against the surface of the water repeatedly -  a common way for these dolphins to signal annoyance or frustration with one another. Perhaps another dolphin had irritated him, or maybe he was just jealous of Silhouette's surfing!

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Friday, 26 June 2009
Whale Watch & Eco-Cruise News, 26th June

We've had some spectacular sightings on both cruises this week. The Eco-cruise on Thursday was one of the most incredible we've had all year, with beautiful calm water making the conditions near perfect. Two pods of inshore bottlenose dolphins were extremely curious about our Dugong Explorer vessel, swimming in underneath the bow and hitching a free ride on our wake. We turned the boat around to come across a herd of 30-40 dugongs cruising along a shallow embankment, grazing on seagrass. The water was so still we could hear them breathing as they came to the surface! But if dugongs and dolphins weren't enough, we spotted a beautiful little green turtle just cruising along through the shallows and even two eagle rays. Truly amazing to see such a diversity of wildlife.
Our whale watch on Wednesday was equally amazing. After keeping track of a pod of five whales for most of the cruise, we were spectacularly rewarded with one whale breaching three times not fifteen metres from the boat. This gentle giant was so close you could actually count the barnacles on its underside!

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Friday, 26 June 2009
Dolphin News, 26th June

Some light tropical showers down at the feed last night didn't stop the dolphins coming in once more for their evening snack. Bobo, our most mature dolphin at 23 years of age, once again decided to give the feed a miss. Being a mature male, it's not uncommon for Bobo to miss several days in a row; he's out and and about in Moreton Bay, hunting his own fish and chasing the ladies!
With Bobo being away, Rani, a 17 year old male, had an entire feeding lane to himself, so we're sure he didn't mind. Throughout the feed Rani was vocalising quite frequently, using what we call his 'signature whistle'. Each individual dolphin has a unique whistle that they use to communicate with one another, so it's almost like the dolphin equivalent of a human name.
Let's hope Bobo decides to make an appearance tonight.

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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Dolphin News, 25th June

Nari was displaying some interesting behaviour last night by tail slapping x 4 times.  This is when a dolphin will lift its tail up in the air, and then slap it down hard on the surface of the water so it makes a very loud cracking sound.  This behaviour is generally a sign of dominance, frustration or annoyance with other dolphins.  At the time of Nari displaying this behaviour, the young calves were swimming very close to him, so he may have been trying to indicate to them to leave him alone as he was not in the mood to play with them.  This behaviour is very common in dolphin societies.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Dolphin News, 24th June

Last night  Nari and Tangles were very affectionate to each other.  They were both rolling around and nuzzling up to each other for approx 20 minutes prior to the feed.

Again it was great to see the dolphins hunting and catching fish prior to the feed last night.  Shadow was also doing lots of inverted hunting before, during, and after the feed.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Dolphin News, 23rd June

Its great to see that we still have the mullet swimming through  the dolphin feed area during the feed.  Last night Silhouette caught a huge mullet and spent the whole night breaking it up and eating it.   As Bottlenose dolphins teeth are only designed to grasp hold of slippery fish, they are not designed to chew their food, the dolphin has to tear large chunks of the fish apart before they can swallow it.

Also last night Shadow's calf was suckling through out the feed, and the calf will continue to do so for the next one and half years of age as dolphin calves do generally suckle for up until 2 years of age.

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Monday, 22 June 2009
Dolphin News, 22nd June

Last night the dolphins had the opportunity to participate in one of their favourite past times - surfing! With a few nice waves rolling into the feed area the dolphins didn't hesitate to catch them right into the shallows before making the quick dash back to deeper water. Even the calves made the most of the conditions and darted around through the waves ever so quickly resembling little speeding bullets!

Nari and Storm were doing a bit of male bonding last night swimming close to one another and hardly leaving each others side! Storm is currently four years old and is at the age where males start seeking out company of other male dolphins. By the time they reach maturity at around ten years old they have found a couple of close male friends that they end up spending the majority of their time with. Storm's still got a few years ahead of him before he 'settles down' with some other male dolphins so no doubt we'll see him seeking out the company of allot of other male dolphins in the meantime...

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Sunday, 21 June 2009
Dolphin News, 21st June

It was another beautiful calm evening down at the feed last night, and once again all eleven of our regular dolphins decided to come in to say hello! Being a high tide, it was a great opportunity to see the calves, Phoenix & Shadow's baby boy, coming in nice and close. As they grow a little older, both calves are starting to become more confident and will even suckle from their mums during the feed. Last night, we were even lucky enough to hear little Phoenix whistling!  We wonder what she has to say...

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Saturday, 20 June 2009
Whale Watch & Eco-Cruise, 20th June

Well it's that time of year again when the Humpback Whales are making their way past Moreton Island, and out on the Whale Watch cruises this week we've been seeing some remarkable behaviour! On Thursday alone we saw a total of 12 whales as they continued their annual migration North. Being one of the most curious and playful whale species, we were lucky enough to see several whales leaping from the water (a behaviour called breaching), slapping their tails on the water and rolling about with their pectoral flippers in the air. A great start to the season so far.

But the whales aren't the only amazing marine mammals we've been seeing. Out on the Eco-cruise this week, we've spotted several pods of inshore bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles, and even the rare and elusive dugong. Seeing such vulnerable species like the dugong and turtles so close to Brisbane is a great sign that our bay is very healthy, and crucial for their ongoing survival!

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Saturday, 20 June 2009
Dolphin News, 20th June

Again we were lucky enough to have some very active, sociable dolphins last night! Two of our mature male dolphins, Nari and Echo, were following Tangles (one of our younger females) very closely, engaging in a lot of tactile and mating behaviour. At 8 years of age, Tangles is fast approaching the age when female bottlenose dolphins become sexually mature, so it's no surprise the boys are starting to show a little more interest!

Two of our other boys were also being very interactive, with four year old Storm closely following the dominant seventeen year old Rani around the feed area. Even between male dolphins, this kind of touching and socialising is very important in maintaining the social hierarchy and strengthening the bonds between them.

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Friday, 19 June 2009
Dolphin News, 19th June

The Tangalooma dolphins definitely showed their wild side last night with all dolphins zipping around in a feeding frenzy. During the feeding program a large school of sea mullet swam directing into the feed area right in site of the dolphins. Within a flash, the dolphins lead by Nari and Echo chased the mullet around the feed area scooting in and around staff and guests. It was amazing to see the speed and agility of these dolphins as the gobbled down the mullet (which is one of the dolphins favorite fish). This behaviour shows the independance of these dolphins as we only provide them with a small proportion of their daily food requirements. Silhouette was so excited about all the food swimming around her she hid under the jetty stalking her prey, only to dart out from under the jetty to eat the fat juicey mullet.

We can't wait to see what tonight brings.....

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Thursday, 18 June 2009
Dolphin News, 18th June

During the dolphin feed last night,  lots of mullet was swimming through the dolphin feed area, so we all observed the dolphins displaying a lot of their hunting techniques.  As we only feed the dolphins a very small amount of their daily intake, they still need to catch and hunt their own food, so its great to see this behaviour.

Also Phoenix, Tinkerbells latest born calf has taken a likening to Nari and last  night  she was going over to Nari  and nuzzling up to him during the feed.  Nari seem to enjoy the attention, and would gently nip Phoenix on her tail.  She would then swim back over on top of Nari and nuzzle back up to him again.  They looked so cute......

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Dolphin News, 17th June

Last night at the dolphin feed, both Shadow and her first born calf Silhouette were doing alot of inverted hunting in the dolphin feed area.  This hunting technique is when the dolphins swim very quickly on their back to hunt and catch their fish.  At night time fish tend to swim near the surface of the water in well lit up areas.   The reason why the dolphins swim on their backs to catch this fish is because a dolphins eyes are designed to look forward and down, and for the dolphins to see the fish swimming on the surface of the water they must turn onto  their backs. 

Also Shadow and her latest calf,  and Tinkerbell and her calf Phoenix,  were very affectionate to each other during the feed.  Tinkerbell's calf Phoenix, was suckling alot during the feed as well as staying very close to her mum.

See you tomorow..

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Whale Watch News, 16th June

Well its winter time again, and the Humpback Whales have started their migration up along the East Coast of Australia. 

The Tangalooma Whale Watch started last week and already we are seeing the Humpbacks as they are heading North.  We have observed many pregnant female whales who seem to be in a hurry to reach the warmer, calmer waters where they will give birth to their young. We have also seen lots of breaching , pec waves and head lunging by the whales.  They are just awesome!!!!

This year we can expect to see over 10,000 Humpbacks that will be migrating north. When the Humpbacks do turn around and head south again, its a great experience to see them with their new playful and very cheeky calves.

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Eco-Cruise News, 16th June

Moreton  Bay is home to over 800 dugongs and this is the largest population next to a capital city anywhere in the world.

Join one of our Marine Biologists on the Eco Cruise that goes out several times a week to the dugong banks and sea grass beds.  Dugongs are very elusive creatures and on one of the Eco Cruises this week, we saw many dugongs only 50 metres from the boat.  Its fascinating when these beautiful creatures come to the surface to breath and to see them interacting with each other.  The most dugongs we have ever had around the boat is over 200 and this happens often in Summer.

Currently reseach is being carried out on the dugongs of Moreton Bay by the University of QLD.  It is important for researchers to learn more about why the dugongs populations are decreasing so rapidly, their social structures, eating habits and sadly the threats that these beautiful creatures will face in the future.  This may be the only way we can protect them.

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Welcome to our first Dolphin Team Blog!
We are all very excited about writing up this blog as it keeps everyone up to date on the behaviour, social structures and overall well being of the dolphins that visit Tangalooma.  So keep an eye on this blog as we will be updating it daily.

It's great to see that since Nari was released back into his family group he has again reverted to his normal behaviour.  He is very interactive with the younger calves and even plays a game of chasing with them.

Nari is 12 years of age and has reached sexual maturity and is starting to assert his dominance with the other males as he is trying to get the female dolphins attention.  Nari does seem to be attracting a lot of attention from the female dolphins lately, so maybe the rumour is true and girls do like scars?!

Also, last night we observed the dolphins chasing and catching fish under the jetty.  There was lots of splashing and inverted hunting as the dolphins caught the fish.  As we only feed the dolphins a small amount of their daily food intake, its very reassuring to see the dolphins hunting and catching their own food.

Posted by Rob


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