It is with deep sadness that we come to the realization that Shadow has passed away. Shadow last attended the dolphin feed on Wednesday 9th June with her 20 month old male calf, Zephyr. Zephyr is a high spirited little calf and has been regularly seen by himself over the last few weeks. This is unusual as a mother dolphin will never leave her calf unprotected and to see Zephyr by himself without Shadow anywhere in sight was of great concern. Even when Shadow was not hungry, she would still come into Tangalooma and interact with the other dolphins in her family group. Conversely, there were also occasions when Shadow did not attend the feed for a few nights, or a week which is normal behaviour for our wild dolphins.
We do believe that Shadow may have been taken by a shark. Over the last few weeks there have been reports of schools of bait fish and pilchards at the top end of the island in the open ocean, which always attracts sharks. In one week National Parks had two sharks that had beached themselves at the top end of the island and needed rangers assistance to get them back into the water. Sharks do not usually venture into the Bay, but dolphins will venture out of their home range if there is a plentiful food source. We believe that although Shadow's home range is approx 10 kilometres either side of the jetty, she may have ventured further out of her home range to have access to the large schools of fish swimming past Moreton Island. If this was the case, and Shadow being a very dominant and competitive feeder, she may have become prey to an accidental shark bite while they were both competing in the same area for the same food source. This is very similar to what happened to Nari in February last year. It is important to note that Sharks are a very important part of the eco system and should also be protected.
One thing we must remember is that the dolphins that attend Tangalooma are wild dolphins. They are free to roam the bay and oceans and we must accept that even though sometimes their lives could be cut short by nature, they have fulfilling and happy lives being wild dolphins. Shadow's days would have been spent hunting and catching fish, squid, and other small crustaceans, socialising with the other wild dolphins within Moreton Bay, surfing waves, bow riding along with boats, interacting with other marine creatures great and small and just being free.
Shadow has been attending the dolphin feed since she was born (10/10/94). Her mother Beauty was one of the original dolphins when the programme started in 1992. Sadly Shadow too had a hard start in life as her mother Beauty died when Shadow was only 14 months old. Shadow proved that she was a survivor and was taken under the wing (or should we say flipper) or her older sister Tinkerbell.
Over the years Shadow has given birth to two calves. Her first born calf Silhouette is a 5 year old female ,and her second born calf Zephyr. Shadow was a great mum and was very protective of her babies. Once when Silhouette was only 9 months old and ventured too far away from her mother, Shadow quickly raced out to bring her back to be close by her side. She also did this on many occasions with Zephyr.
Shadow was a very skilled and efficient hunter and has passed on her many hunting techniques to both of her calves. One of Shadows many techniques would be to hide underneath the jetty and chase fish into the shallows. Shadow would also stun fish with a loud sonar pitch when they were hiding around the jetty pylons, and as the fish would jump up, Shadow would catch them in her mouth. These hunting techniques were a vital part of her calves survival once they had starting to hunt and catch fish for themselves.
Shadow will be greatly missed. She will always be in our hearts and memories and her spirit will live on through her two beautiful calves, Silhouette and Zephyr.
On behalf of Tangalooma, we say farewell to you Shadow, and we thank you for all that you have taught us throughout the years.
Shadow as a 1 year old calf
Shadow was a very skillful and efficient
hunter. She caught this octopus underneath
the jetty prior to a feed.
Silhouette, Shadow's first born calf. She
misses her mum as she was very close to her.
Little baby Zephyr is Shadow's second born
calf. He misses his mum too. He is a
spirited,strong little guy and he will survive
as other dolphins in Moreton Bay are looking
after him, which is quite common in wild
Shadow and Tangles.