With their playful carefree nature and great intelligence, dolphins have a very special place in the hearts of people. The species most commonly encountered by visitors to the coast of Australia’s South West is the bottlenose dolphin, or Tursiops truncates. Here are some of the best places to spot and interact with these fascinating marine mammals.
Koombana Bay, Dolphin Discovery Centre, Bunbury
Koombana Bay is home to a large population of bottlenose dolphins and serves as a resting area and breeding ground. A group of around 100 to 150 dolphins are regularly seen in the bay and surrounding waters. Approximately 20 to 40 of these are considered residents of Koombana Bay, and there is a group of five or six dolphins that regularly visit the public interaction zone, with as many as 16 dolphins known to have visited at any one time.
The Bunbury dolphins are wild animals and therefore come and go as they please. A weekly visitation board is maintained in the Discovery Room to inform all visitors of their comings and goings. An interpretive centre provides visitors with an insight into these cetacean locals and boat cruises and swim tours (seasonal) offer a closer view.
King George Sound, Albany
Bottlenose and common dolphins are regularly seen in the sheltered natural harbour of King George Sound in Albany. During the whale migration season in the winter months, dolphins often appear to be playing with and taunting the visiting humpback and southern right whales.
Blackwood River and Flinders Bay, Augusta
A small group of dolphins can often be seen in the lower reaches of the Blackwood River near Augusta. Flinders Bay, which is at the mouth of the river, also supports large groups of dolphins.