October 08, 2021

Why Adelaide's marooned dolphin is doing this!

Why Adelaide's marooned dolphin is doing this!
Dr. Chris Brown

A wild dolphin who stayed out fishing too late and has become stuck in a river outlet near Adelaide is far from stressed. Instead, he’s showing off with some unusual tricks.

Here’s when he’ll swim free and where he learned these remarkable moves…

They say the tide waits for no man. Well, it turns out that saying also applies to dolphins after this wild dolphin became marooned in the Torrens River outlet at West Beach overnight. It’s likely he chased a school of fish in there on the high tide before the re-emergence of the sand bank made it a longer fishing trip than planned. Fortunately, he should swim back to the ocean on tonight’s high tide.

But locals have been amused and confused by his behaviour today as he unleashed a dazzling display of backflips and even tail walking, in between more fishing of course. And it turns out there may be a fascinating explanation for where his skills come from.

You see, back in the early 1980’s, a wild dolphin called Billie was temporarily kept at Adelaide’s Marineland aquarium where she learned a string of commands before (thankfully) being returned to her true home in the ocean with the same local pod of dolphins. But this was 40 years ago! Using mimicry and a highly developed social system, these skills have amazingly been passed around the pod so the current community know the moves and can use them at will.

So while this is only a temporary stay, this dolphin has delighted us with a reminder of their intelligence and deep need to stay young, wild and free. Now, swim free tonight ok!

Pics: Mahalia Carter

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