Action for Dolphins to educate North Stradbroke Island locals, visitors on keeping marine life safe after getting Canon grant

HAPPY AT SEA: A dolphin enjoys a bit of surfing off North Stradbroke Island.
HAPPY AT SEA: A dolphin enjoys a bit of surfing off North Stradbroke Island.

A DOLPHIN protection agency is set to educate visitors to North Stradbroke Island on the dangers of dolphin feeding and shark drumlines, after receiving $5000 worth of grants.

Action for Dolphins, a not-for-profit that works to protect dolphins and other marine life across the world, received $2500 cash and $2500 in camera gear in Canon Oceania's 2020 grants program.

AFD advocacy director Jordan Sosnowski said the equipment would be used to capture evidence of animals trapped in drumlines, in order to educate visitors to the island and push for safer technologies to be introduced.

"There's 25 shark drumlines around the island," she said.

"We would like to use the equipment to capture some of what is happening underwater. It's a sight unseen. If we can capture the footage, it can educate people on the negative impacts."

Between 2001 and 2017, 342 animals were caught in shark drumlines, of which 77 were non-target animals, including a bottlenose dolphin, humpback whales, turtles and manta rays.

Most non-target animals were released but four turtles and two manta rays died.

The Queensland government has committed $1 million a year to research and trial shark control alternatives.

As well as collecting underwater footage from drumlines, the grant will be used to teach tourists about the negative impacts of hand-feeding dolphins.

Dolphin feeding has been a problem at Amity Point for many years.

LEAVE WILDLIFE ALONE: Dolphin feeding can impact dolphins' health and behaviour patterns.

LEAVE WILDLIFE ALONE: Dolphin feeding can impact dolphins' health and behaviour patterns.

Ms Sosnowski said feeding dolphins had negative long-term impacts on dolphins' health and safety.

"Many tourists might view hand-feeding of dolphins as a fun thing to do on holiday," she said.

"But it can alter their natural behaviours - they're going to spending a lot of time swimming to and from those feeding locations rather than teaching their calves how to hunt for food.

"It results in things like dolphins begging, scavenging and patrolling. It also teaches dolphins to associate humans with food, so it can lead to incidences of entanglements in fishing line and boat strikes.

"It's also been reported that hand-fed mothers care less for their calves."

Educational videos would be produced, including expert interviews, and AFD aimed to have them shown in schools and on ferries.

"We also want to create signage around the island," Ms Sosnowski said.

"We're not saying to people stop swimming or boating or fishing, it's just more keeping your distance from the animals so they can enjoy the island and you can too."

AFD is working in partnership with Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation.

The Canon Oceania grants program awarded more than $30,000 in grants to five projects and one runner up in Australia and New Zealand this year.