We identify the Burrunan dolphins of Port Phillip Bay and the Gippsland Lakes by looking at the unique pattern of nicks and notches on their dorsal fins. Each dolphin has their very own combination of nicks and notches, just like we all have our own combination of hair colour, eye colour, or freckles on our faces.
They get these nicks and notches throughout their lifetime, through playing with each other as calves, where they nip and scratch with their teeth, as well as other experiences that we unfortunately cause, like boat-strikes and entanglements.
Like ‘Jimmy’, ‘Tangles’ and ‘Double Scoop’ featured here, the Burrunan dolphins have special codes depending on the location of the nicks, and a name so we can easily identify them in the field.
For the Dorsal Design Activity, you can to design your very own Burrunan dolphin dorsal fin and tell us about how they got their nicks and notches in a creative short story.
Use as many colours, shapes, mediums and utensils as you like; paints, markers, pencils, pipe cleaners, paper mâché; anything! Give your dolphin a name, a best friend, a favourite thing to do, other marine mammals they like to play with; tell us about where they live, who they live with, their family; tell us about an adventure they undertook, something they discovered, what happened that gave them their identifying nicks and notches.
Submit your finished Dorsal Design and short story to firstname.lastname@example.org
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