Research Papers - Sustainable Dolphin Feeding

Research on Tangalooma's Responsible Dolphin Feeding

Tangalooma is committed to research that will help to protect and conserve dolphins. The Resort's wild dolphin feeding program is one of the longest-running in the world, and it has provided valuable data on dolphin behavior, health, and ecology.

Since its inception, Tangalooma's Wild Dolphin Feeding program has engaged research teams  from all over the world to assist us in developing best practice for the health and survival of dolphins, with many leading academics publishing numerous papers in scientific journals all over the world. Tangalooma is committed to using its research to make a positive difference for dolphins, and the resort is proud to be a leader in the field of dolphin conservation.

Below is just some of the multitude of academic papers that were based on studies of the Tangalooma dolphin feeding program and the qualities of its environmental educational messaging, to inspire all generations and cultures to care for the environments of these incredible creatures. There is also a research paper that explores the history of human and dolphin interactions at Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) and the unique cooperative relationship the traditional owners had with the dolphins of the region.

Survival of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops sp.) calves at a wild dolphin provisioning program, Tangalooma, Australia
Author: Neil, David T. (School of Geography, Planning and Architecture, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia) and Holmes, Bonnie J. (Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries, Brisbane, Australia) (2008)
Abstract: Mortality of calves born to provisioned mothers is identified in the literature as an issue of concern in dolphin provisioning programs. Wild dolphin provisioning at Tangalooma, Moreton Island, Australia has been occurring since 1992. At Tangalooma, the calf survival rate is 100%, including both orphaned and first-born calves, both of which are expected to have relatively low survival rates.  

Wild Dolphin Provisioning at Tangalooma, Moreton Island: An Evaluation
Author: Neil, David T. (Department of Geographical Sciences and Planning, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia) and Brieze, Ilze. (School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia) (1998)
Abstract: Wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) have been provisioned at Tangalooma, Moreton Island since 1992. This paper provides a brief summary of the history of human -dolphin interactions in Moreton Bay and an overview of the management regime established by the Tangalooma Resort. The outcomes of the Tangalooma provisioning program are contrasted with those reported from other dolphin provisioning programs

The Effectiveness of Environmental Education: Can We Turn Tourists into ‘Greenies’?
Author: Orams, Mark B. (Department of Management Systems, Massey University — Albany, New Zealand) (1997)
Abstract: A study which tested the effectiveness of an education programme for managing tourists was conducted at Tangalooma, Australia. At this holiday resort tourists are able to handfeed a group of wild dolphins which visit the shallow waters adjacent to the resort’s beach. The education programme, which uses techniques derived from cognitive psychology and learning theory, attempted to prompt increased enjoyment, knowledge and improved environmental attitudes, intentions and behaviour in participants. The study, which compared a control group who were not exposed to the education with an experiment group who were, found that desirable changes did occur as a result of the programme. This research provides much needed evidence that education can be an effective means of managing tourists’ interaction with wildlife and the natural environment.

Cooperative fishing interactions between Aboriginal Australians and dolphins in eastern Australia
Author: Neil, David T. (Department of Geographical Sciences and Planning, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia) (2002)
Abstract: Published eyewitness accounts and stories from Aboriginal Australians are used to provide an overview of the geographical extent and characteristics of cooperative fishing between Aboriginal Australians and dolphins in eastern Australia. These sources indicate that cooperative fishing was geographically widespread in eastern Australia,involved both bottlenose dolphins and orcas,and had a significance (emotional and spiritual) to Aboriginal people beyond the acquisition of food. These fishing interactions represent both context and precedent for the economic and emotional objectives of contemporary human–dolphin interactions such as dolphin provisioning. .

Wild Dolphin Viewing & Wild Dolphin Feeding Access

Please note that casual visitors to Moreton Island are not allowed access to the resort premises for the nightly dolphin viewing / feeding experience. All guests that are authorised to stay overnight at properties within the grounds of the resort have general admission access to the dolphin viewing areas each evening. Only guests who have booked official day trips and select overnight stays with Tangalooma Island Resort will be able to participate in the nightly dolphin feeding program, but only if it was included in your original package. Consult your confirmation paperwork to confirm your access.

Wild Dolphin Feeding / Viewing is dependent on dolphin attendance, weather conditions & tides, therefore arrival cannot always be guaranteed; however over the last 3 decades of the program, we have experienced a 99% attendance rate. See Dolphin Feeding FAQs for further information about the program.

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