I live not too far away from a little town with the cute sounding name of Tin Can Bay in the South East corner of Queensland, Australia. Tin Can Bay is famous for it’s friendly dolphins who swim into the bay every morning where they can be seen up close and personal! These are wild dolphins that swim right up to the beach and expect a feed from the humans who go there to see them! Let me explain how this came about.
Back in the 1950’s, an injured dolphin breached himself on the sand at the local Barnacles Cafe. The Dolphin (an Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphin), was covered in scars and so he got the name of “Old Scarry”. The locals fed him and nursed him back to health. He returned to the wild when he was fully recovered, but kept coming back to the bay for a feed from the locals. As time went by, he brought more dolphins with him!
In 1991, one of the female dolphins arrived in the bay with a calf and the local school children named him ‘Mystique’.
Mystique is now the alpha male of his pod and is also scarred from his many battles, including a battle with a bull shark in December 2007. Once again a dolphin sought refuge in the cove at Barnacles with volunteers feeding and caring for him around the clock for 10 days. Once he was able to hunt for himself, Mystique thanked everyone with an aerial display before heading out with Patch (another regular to the bay), to return to the wild.
He still visits the bay daily – the third generation to carry on this tradition. He is about 19 years old.
Patch is a female member of Mystique’s pod who started to come into the Cove to feed after the disappearance of Scarry. She is thought to be around 23 years old and weigh just over 200 kg. In comparison to Mystique she has very few battle scars and she is throwing a pink colour as she ages.
More recently another young dolphin known as ‘Harmony’ began visiting regularly with Mystique. Harmony is a juvenile male thought to be about three years old. This makes the fourth generation of dolphin to feed with the locals and visitors to Tin Can Bay. Harmony is also quite scarred for one so young and appears to be holding up the family tradition of liking a good fight.
Harmony is very inquisitive and likes to check out his human visitors from a distance.
Because these dolphins are wild, their arrival time cannot be guaranteed, so it is suggested that visitors arrive at Barnacles Cafe between 7am and 8am. Visitors can get in the water with the dolphins as they swim past, sometimes touching or nudging their legs, looking for a feed! Fish can be purchased on site to feed these beautiful, gentle mammals. I have waded knee high into the water with the other tourists and fed these magnificent creatures and it is an experience I will never forget. They really do nudge against your legs and let you gently touch them; they seem to enjoy the experience as much as the humans!
It’s very plain to see why we are so passionate about these beautiful creatures – they seem to love inter-acting with us, enjoying our company, and love performing for us! It’s an absolute thrill to see them – especially since these ones are truly wild!
It is certainly a wonderful experience for the whole family to treasure forever, and I feel so privileged to live so close to this place, to enjoy the dolphins whenever I feel the urge!