Quandamooka leader wants fines levied on those feeding Amity dolphins

SCIENTIST MAKES CALL: Dr Daryl McPhee wants the feeding and petting of dolphins at Amity on North Stradbroke Island to stop.
SCIENTIST MAKES CALL: Dr Daryl McPhee wants the feeding and petting of dolphins at Amity on North Stradbroke Island to stop.

A CRACK down looms on the back of a scientist’s call last week for the hand feeding of dolphins at Amity on North Stradbroke Island to end.

Quandamooka leader Cameron Costello is pushing for people feeding the animals to be fined and asked to leave the island.

Fines range from $378 to $10,092.

Mr Costello, the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation chief executive, said although he did not want to see people fined, he wanted Redland City Council and island businesses to back the move.

“To assist authorities, come late 2017 anyone staying at QYAC’s camp grounds or any people at Amity seen to be inappropriately interacting with dolphins will be asked to leave,” he said.

“We seek the commitment from other businesses to join us in this approach.”

QYAC had met with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service staff about how to handle feeding and public education was thought to be the major issue.

“QPWS have agreed on this education first strategy and we are now calling on the support of Redland City Council, Stradbroke Chamber of Commerce and all island businesses and community members,” he said.

Educational material would outline penalties which would be heavily enforced this summer.

“Marine parks and land-based authorities will issue fines to anyone seen feeding or attempting to feed dolphins,” he said.

Last week marine scientist Daryl McPhee called for the practice to end in a book published by the CSIRO.

Professional fisherman Greg Wood said dolphins had been hand fed in the bay for at least 60 years and the practice did them no harm.

Acting mayor Wendy Boglary, when asked if she backed Mr Costello’s stand, did not respond.

“While I understand the desire for people to interact with these animals, council supports the state and follows their lead with respect to the health and safety of dolphins,” she said.

Mr Costello said dolphins, or buwangan as they were known, were one of the most significant beings in Quandamooka culture.

“They are a revered and celebrated totem for our people and are in our dreaming stories,” he said. “They are also a key feature of holiday experiences to Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island).

Mr Costello said Quandamooka had a close relationship with the dolphin.

“Often, we are mesmerised by buwangan’s intelligent and inquisitive nature,” he said.

”...We hunted and fished together. We worked in collaboration to feed our families. It is based on this relationship that the Quandamooka People (and many others) are greatly concerned about the interactions with dolphins on Minjerribah.”

Mr Costello said boat propellers, fishing line and tackle were high risks for dolphins as a result of hand feeding.

“Hand feeding is enticing them in to these danger areas and exposing them to risk of infection, injury and fatalities,” he said.

“...Minjerribah is not a petting zoo, it’s a natural eco-system, a real wildlife sanctuary of global significance,” he said.