Scientist says state government should crack down on illegal Amity Point dolphin feeding

WILDLIFE WARNING: Scientist Daryl McPhee at the launch of his book which warns about the harm being caused to dolphins from hand feeding at Amity on North Stradbroke Island.
WILDLIFE WARNING: Scientist Daryl McPhee at the launch of his book which warns about the harm being caused to dolphins from hand feeding at Amity on North Stradbroke Island.

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.”

NO GO: Hand feeding dolphins occurs at Amity on North Stradbroke Island which introduces a range of dangers and health issues for the animals.

NO GO: Hand feeding dolphins occurs at Amity on North Stradbroke Island which introduces a range of dangers and health issues for the animals.

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.

IGNORED: Signage on North Stradbroke Island which is ignored by tourists. At least one write-up for an Amity accommodation business urges people to take part inthe illegal activity.

IGNORED: Signage on North Stradbroke Island which is ignored by tourists. At least one write-up for an Amity accommodation business urges people to take part inthe illegal activity.

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.”