Cruze the Baby Dolphin

Tue, 14 Jul 2015

By Eco Ranger Sue

Cruze the Baby Dolpin

Feel-good story alert! Just recently the latest addition to the Tangalooma dolphin family ‘Cruze' was officially inducted into the nightly feeding programme. After passing a set of key development criteria, the Dolphin Care team decided that it was time Cruze be welcomed in to the programme with her mother Tangle's and the rest of our dolphin family. Not only is this a great sign for the development of this playful dolphin, but also a great testament to the work the dolphin care team do to conserve the development of these dolphins as they are introduced to the program by their mothers.

We took five with Sue Hassard, Manager of the Tangalooma Marine Education and Conservation Centre and Dolphin Care team to learn a little more about Cruze's development since her birth in November 2012, and her road to finally getting the green light to take fish from our guests at the nightly feed.

When did Cruze start feeding?

28 June 2015

How long has it been since Cruze arrived to Tangalooma?

Cruze is Tangles's second born calf.  Cruze was born on 28 November 2012 and Tangles bought Cruze in when she was only 1 day old.

What has been Tangles behaviour to Cruze?

Tangles's  is the mother – Tangles is very protective of Cruze and  guests watching from the jetty can see Tangles  nuzzling up to Cruze before the dolphin feed and playing with her and witness  how the mother daughter relationship is maturing and developing into a life long bond.....It's an amazing thing to be able to watch these wild animals in their natural habitat every night in the open waters next to the Tangalooma jetty,  demonstrating wild dolphin behaviours that are rarely seen otherwise.

Are there any notable characteristics Cruze portrays? 

Cruze is still a small dolphins and is easily recognised as she currently has a stalked barnacle  attached to her dorsal fin. Stalked barnacles are a soft fleshy barnacle that often attaches to different types of marine animals skin,  although does not otherwise harm the dolphin in any way as it is not a parasite.

Cruze especially loves playing with the other calves, Luna and Betts...

What is her personality like?

She has a gentle personality like her mother, although can be quite cheeky and mischievous at times. Cruze is very playful and loves to find sticks, seaweed, seagrass and balance these on her rostrum, then tosses them to the  other dolphins to encourage them to join in on the game. Cruze especially  loves playing with the other calves, Luna and Betts and they all chase each other around the feed area, teasing each other and  trying to playfully bite each others tails.

How did Cruze settle into the feeding program? 

As Cruze has seen all of the other dolphins in her family station and take fish,  she has now joined in on this activity. It is quite amazing that this behaviour seems to be limited to the Tangalooma dolphin family as some other dolphins that visit the family and attend the jetty area,  have never tried to become part of the programme.

Can you explain a little about how Cruze developed to get to the point of being hand fed by guests?

What characteristics does a dolphin need to display before we introduce them to feeding? Do we have a duty of care to nurture their development to get to that point? Calves generally suckle from their mothers from 18-24 months or more. Cruze was 2 years and 7 months old when we starting hand feeding her. She had to demonstrate to us that she was hunting and catching her own food during the dolphin feed and that she was no longer completely dependant on her mother before we would let her become part of the programme. This time frame changes with every dolphin as every dolphins ability and situation naturally varies. Some dolphin calves are introduced into the programme at 2 years old and some others like Cruze, are left to hone their hunting skills a little longer before we will allow them into the programme. The interesting thing is also that the mother dolphin has to allow the introduction as well and it is sometimes also up to Mum when she allows her young calf to station for fish.

This is very rewarding for us as it proves that we are managing the programme very well.

How has the dolphin care team managed his feeding? Is anything different to the other more mature dolphins?

As Cruze has just started feeding at the feed, we are only feeding her a small amount of her daily intake (10%)which is much less than a  mature dolphins as she is a lot smaller. As you would imagine, this is very tricky and has to be very closely monitored and enforced as we must make sure that all dolphins food intake is sustainable and of an amount that does not change their natural hunting efforts. It's pretty amazing to also see the dolphins stay after the feed is over and continue hunting and catching fish swimming in the area. This is very rewarding for us as it proves that we are managing the programme very well.

What does your team want to see out of Cruze?

As with all of the dolphins,  we would love to see Cruze grow into a healthy female dolphin  who will have many calves herself and create a beautiful family of dolphins of her own  that would continue Beauty's, her Grandmothers legacy.

Are there any memorable moments from Cruze since his birth?

Cruze can be very entertaining to the guests by playing with pieces of seaweed, or balancing a sticks on her rostrum. She seems to be motivated more by the laughs and comments by the guest on the jetty so we are sure that she does this for attention as well.

What do you love about Cruze?

We all love Cruze as she is such a gentle dolphin, just like her mother.

To book a day cruise including dolphin feeding, click here

About the author

Eco Ranger Sue

For most of us, feeding a wild dolphin is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but for Sue Hassard, the Dolphin Care Manager at Tangalooma Island Resort, preparing dinner and feeding bottlenose dolphins is part of her every working day.

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