New guide for safe boating with the Burrunan Dolphin
Have you picked up your go to guide for information about the Gippsland Lakes?
The Marine Mammal Foundation has developed a new booklet for boaters with information, stories and details of boating regulations particularly around the local and endangered Burrunan Dolphin.
Dr Kate Charlton-Robb of the Marine Mammal Foundation said she was excited to be delivering the guide to visitor information centres.
“The Gippsland Lakes Burrunan Dolphins – A guide to safe boating will be available at visitor information centres in Lakes Entrance, Metung and Paynesville,” said Dr Charlton-Robb.
“Many boat based businesses will also have copies.”
The guide has been put together with input from the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation and Gippsland Ports through funding from the Victorian State Government for the Gippsland Lakes.
“This guide tells stories of some of our resident and transient dolphins,” said Dr Charlton-Robb.
“But most importantly it has details of the regulations and the distances boats, jet skis and other craft must keep from the dolphins.
“These regulations are in place to allow dolphins to choose whether they want to interact. In summer, the sheer volume of boats, jet skis and other activity can be quite overwhelming on the Lakes.
“Dolphins use sound for all their communication and they are on the same frequency as the boat engines, so it becomes a very noisy environment.
“Add to that the large influx of people on the Lakes who aren’t familiar with the dolphins, and the fact that you’re not supposed to approach them, and the dolphins start to experience regular, if not constant, interruptions to their basic daily activities including feeding, communicating and resting.
“That noisy environment can cause health problems among the dolphins – if they can’t communicate, feed and rest properly, their fitness levels go down.
“We are currently investigating these impacts via our land-based and boat-based research programs.”
The guide aims to raise awareness of the regulations around interaction between people and the Burrunan Dolphins in the Gippsland Lakes.
“When people know the limitations, they generally respect them,” she says.
“If you are on a boat, you aren’t to go within 100 metres of the dolphins, and it is 300 metres on a jet ski. That also applies to unpowered vessels – people think if they are on a kayak or a stand-up board they aren’t impacting on the dolphins but that’s not the case.
“If you change direction in your vessel or jet ski and cut in front of the dolphins or cut into the pod, that’s a breach of the regulations and that’s when you are interrupting those very important activities.”
The guide explains how the Marine Mammal Foundation conducts its research and what members of the public can do to help.
“We love it when people report their dolphin sightings,” said Dr Charlton-Robb.
“This allows us to have eyes on the Lakes when we physically can’t be there.
“Photographs help us to identify the dolphins through distinctive marks on their dorsal fins.”
If you would like copies of the guide available at your business, please contact the Marine Mammal Foundation on firstname.lastname@example.org or download your copy today!