Citizen Science is alive and well here on Bribie Island, especially for Dolphin research.
Bribie Island Dolphin Sightings is a local group founded by Pete Garbett, a member of Dolphin Research Australia (DRA), to help generate interest and build a database for dolphin sightings in and around Bribie Island.
The group encourages locals interested in Dolphin research to contribute their photos and encounters with the local dolphin population, and provides educational posts to help identify which species of dolphin you may have sighted.
Coastal dolphins are counted amongst some of the most vulnerable marine species across the world, as they and their environment are under threat from a number of human sources. So DRA was established in 2012 to not only research and understand dolphins and whales but to provide a voice for the protection of them.
Over two years ago Mr Garbett formed Bribie Island Dolphin Sightings to work alongside DRA by encouraging citizen science and getting locals involved and noting sightings for the two species of dolphins that call Bribie Island home.
The two main species of Dolphin found around Bribie Island are the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) and Humpback Dolphin (Sousa sahulensis) species.
Mr Garbett said “I’ve been involved with dolphins all my life, and a few years ago I decided to come down to Bribie two or three times a week and found that there were good numbers of sightings.”
Growing up on the Gold Coast, living on the beach front and watching dolphins in the surf, Mr Garbett truly has been involved with dolphins his whole life.
“My folks knew a gentleman who owned an aquarium on the Gold Coast that had dolphins, the aquarium’s no longer there, it’s been gone for decades but when I left school I actually went and worked for him and another aquarium in New South Wales. When I left that industry I became involved with research on dolphins and whales.” Mr Garbett said.
With help from a number of dedicated locals the group recorded a total of 387 sightings in 2019. In December alone there were 31 sightings; 21 of bottlenose dolphins, 11 of humpback dolphins and 2 were the group was unable to confirm the species.
This year the group is planning to have Dr Elizabeth Hawkins from DRA provide a presentation open to the public on the bottlenose and humpback dolphins.
For those interested in getting involved with Bribie Island Dolphin Sightings you can check out their Facebook Group for further information.