On Wednesday I received a phone call from Townsville Bulletin journalist Daniel Bateman who was almost as excited about Ella Bay's Indo-pacific humpback dolphins as I am! So I did my best to fill in the gaps for Daniel and I certainly can't complain about the story he wrote.
There's a certain something about these playful cetaceans that touches us all and I believe if our own species had chosen the ocean instead of good old terra firma we would probably have evolved to be just like them. Every year scientists spend billions of dollars attempting to communicate with intelligent life in outer space yet these amazing intelligent creatures are living right on our own doorstep.
Then again I wouldn't like to be the first scientist to talk with a dolphin. I think I would be a bit stuck for answers when it asked why we were happy to stand by and degrade their ocean habitat and allow dolphins and whales to be killed for profit. If he (or she) started asking about whaling in the southern oceans I would again be embarrassed and ashamed of the actions of my own species. Perhaps its best we don't learn to communicate with them just yet until we show a bit more compassion towards dolphins, whales and the special watery world they call home.
Once again I talk too much so here's the story from Townsville Bulletin journalist Daniel Bateman
Rare dolphins caught on camera
Danile Bateman, Townsville Bulletin 16 Jul 09
A LABORATORY worker has described the sight of rare dolphins frolicking off an Innisfail Beach as `jaw-dropping and awesome'.
Bramston Beach sugar laboratory analyst Russell Constable snapped these incredible photographs of a small pod of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins – including a juvenile – playfully splashing about in the waters of Ella Bay.
"The first time I saw them, I had just stepped out of my car at the car park at Ella Bay.
"I looked straight out at the ocean and clicked on to what they were, when I realised they weren't your usual bottle-nosed dolphins."
The dolphins were captured over a course of four days at the start of the month and photographed from the beach.
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are often sighted near river mouths, and rarely spotted more than 1km offshore.
They have been found to eat in shallow waters on a diet of fish, molluscs, prawns and crabs, squid and octopus.
The dolphin is currently listed as rare under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.
They are threatened by noise pollution, harassment and being caught in shark and trawl nets.
Marine Wildlife Australia president Blanche Danastas said very little was known about the dolphins, particularly along the Cassowary Coast.
"Ella Bay was somewhere where it was considered they lived, but I don't think they've ever been recorded there in this way," Ms Danastas said.
"This provides evidence that they are there, right under our noses."
Ms Danastas said scientists were considering classifying the mammal as a new species, like the rare snubfin dolphin.
The snubfin – Australia's only native dolphin – was discovered as a new species living in Cleveland Bay in 2005.
"If you look at the genetics, the humpback dolphin kind of branches off into its own group," she said.
"Its taxonomic status needs to be reviewed."
Conservationists claim Ella Bay is an area with a high ecological value.
Four resort developments are currently flagged for Ella Bay, which conservationists claim will bring up to 5000 people into the area, impacting rare and threatened flora and fauna.
Ms Danastas said the photograph of the juvenile humpback showed Ella Bay was a significant habitat for the rare dolphins.
"This pod of dolphins lives, plays and raises their young right at Ella Bay, which is currently threatened by an unsustainable coastal development," she said.