Rare display of baby love

Resident Tin Can Bay dolphins Mystique and Ella’s newborn calf Squirt gave visitors and volunteers at Barnacle Dolphin Centre a rare and unforgettable experience at dolphin feeding times at Norman Pt this week.
Resident Tin Can Bay dolphins Mystique and Ella’s newborn calf Squirt gave visitors and volunteers at Barnacle Dolphin Centre a rare and unforgettable experience at dolphin feeding times at Norman Pt this week. Carolyn Smith

A RARE display of trust from a pod of dolphins is giving Tin Can Bay locals and visitors an unforgettable experience.

A dolphin calf, less than two months old, has arrived most mornings at the feeding point near Norman Pt boat ramp.

It's being brought to shore by its father Mystique, a regular at dolphin feeding, and mother Ella, who has been accompanying Mystique since pairing up.

Named Squirt by dolphin centre volunteers, the baby has been making daily public appearances at dolphin feeding along with Patch and another of Mystique's offspring called Aussie.

Closely watched over by its mother, Squirt appears to have no fear of humans and volunteers are overwhelmed by the unique experience.

They said stepping into the water with five dolphins in the wild was an experience of a lifetime.

Fishermen witness birth

Barnacles Dolphin Centre co-ordinator Di Andrews said Tin Can Bay fishermen witnessed the dolphin calf's birth on March 23.

The fishermen reported the rare sighting to volunteers that day and about a fortnight later Squirt was swimming around Dolphin Cove - the name given to an inlet of Snapper Creek near the Norman Pt boat ramp where public dolphin feeding is carried out every morning.

"When Squirt first came in he was messing around and someone called him a little squirt," Mrs Andrews said.

"Normally (dolphin parents) would bring their calf in to show it off and then take it away for a couple of months before we saw it again.

"This is what we experienced with Mystique's other offspring, Aussie, who is three years old. Normally they wouldn't bring the babies all the way into shore, but Ella has been bringing Squirt back each day.

"It's absolutely beautiful to see."

So far this week Ella and Squirt have only missed one day.

Mystique is a mature male dolphin that has been interacting with locals and visitors his entire life.

He learned this behaviour from his mother, Scarry, who was a regular visitor.

She has not been seen since 2004.

Dolphin visitors also include Aussie and Harmony - son and daughter of Mystique - which are fourth-generation feeders at Tin Can Bay.

Patch, a female pod member, also still visits and is sometimes accompanied by Valentine.

This pod of Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin is listed as a rare species in Queensland and feeding is regulated by Queensland Government laws with the set time of 8am. Mrs Andrews advises to turn up at 7am or phone Barnacles on 5486 4899 to confirm times.

Gympie Times

Topics:  dolphin tin can bay

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