A LEADING scientist has called for the state government to enforce laws banning the feeding of dolphins at Amity Point on North Stradbroke Island.
Bond University associate professor Daryl McPhee said dolphins were regularly fed and petted despite government signs warning of potential harm to the animals.
“We are in danger of loving the animals to death through abject ignorance and disregard of environmental law,” Dr McPhee said.
“We are also being disrespectful to the Quandamooka people who consider the dolphin as the physical manifestation of a creator spirit.”
Dr McPhee made the comments in a CSIRO book Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay launched Wednesday night.
He said Amity Point dolphins had come to associate human activities with food as opposed to hand feeding at Moreton Island’s Tangalooma Resort which was controlled, limited and focussed on their health.
Risks to Amity dolphins included dependence on humans for food, increased risk of injuries through boat strike and fishing tackle, increased disease risk and decreased care of calves.
Dr McPhee said some people flouted the law for instant gratification. “For some people, getting an Instagram picture or a Youtube video ... appears to be more important than the health of the dolphins,” he said.
The practice was so rampant some Straddie businesses marketed dolphin feeding in accommodation packages.
One write-up says: “These beautiful creatures will come in so close that you can pat them and they'll take the pilchards right out of your hands... We spent each evening doing this.”
A Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service spokesperson said people feeding dolphins faced fines ranging from $378 to $10,092.
She said QPWS would patrol Amity foreshore while Quandamooka rangers would play a role in educating visitors.
Dr McPhee said that with visitor numbers predicted to surge as tourism supplanted mining, better enforcement was urgently needed.
Dr McPhee also has called for a minister to be appointed to handle bay issues.
Environment Minister Steven Miles said he already was responsible for the marine park. “The zonings in the marine park are up for review in 2019 so there’ll be a chance for everyone to have their say then.”