Dolphin Tinkerbell is pregnant!

Thu, 15 Oct 2015

By Tangalooma Island Resort

Tangalooma Dolphin Tinkerbell is pregnant!

Staff at Tangalooma have been very excited over the past few weeks after discovering that Tinkerbell, our alpha female dolphin is pregnant with baby number FIVE!

Currently Tink is very large, so even though it is difficult to tell without physically examining her, we are expecting that she will have her calf within the next few weeks or even days! Being a wild dolphin it is almost impossible for our staff to know exactly when Tinkerbell will have her baby as we do not take them out of the water to run tests like ultrasounds that could be typically be performed on dolphins in captivity. This means we will all just have to wait patiently until Tinkerbell brings in her little surprise.

Over the years, the dolphins have built up a deep trust with the feeders, so they are now bringing their newborn calves in only 24 hours after being born! Based on past behaviour, we expect that Tinkerbell will not turn up to the feed on the night or two before she gives birth to her calf, but should arrive the following evening with her little calf in tow. This is absolutely one of life's joys for all of the guests and staff on the jetty.

Given that the gestation period for an Inshore Bottlenose Dolphin is approximately 12 months, we suspect that Tinkerbell would have been herded by male dolphins almost 11 months ago now. Wild dolphins are believed to give birth at night time in the shallow waters as there are not too many predators around. Another female dolphin known as the 'aunty dolphin' will assist Tink during the birth.

When the calf is born, the aunty dolphin will quickly push the little calf to the surface of the water to help it take its first breath of air.

The calf will be approx 70-80 cm in length when it is born, and it will suckle from its mother for approx 2 years, before starting to hunt and catch its own food. During these early years, the calf will stay very close to its mother's side, and if it is female, will always be part of her mothers group and they will spend a lifetime together. However, if it is a male, the calf will become independent and will have to find his own male group of dolphins who form a exclusively male coalition, spending all their time together until it is time to breed.

The Tangalooma Dolphin feed is a special occurrence as it seems to bring both the males and the females together, despite arriving at the feeding zone sometimes from entirely different directions.

Tinkerbell's latest calf , Luna, born the 24th of May 2012 has recently become independent, and so, is now arriving at the feed without his mum. Luna has grown into a very confident young male dolphin and is starting to spend more time with the boys than the girls. He is also quite large for his age, and just like his mum, he is asserting his dominance towards other dolphins at the feed. Tink can be a little cheeky!

We do believe he will grow into a very dominant alpha male when he reaches maturity at about 11 years of age.

Will the new baby arrive tonight?! We'll have to wait and see!

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Tangalooma Island Resort

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