Home Discover Australia Dolphin Feeding in Australia: Tin Can Bay

Dolphin Feeding in Australia: Tin Can Bay

Dolphin Feeding in Australia: Tin Can Bay

Tin Can Bay, a charming coastal town in Queensland, Australia, is renowned for its unique and interactive dolphin feeding experience. Nestled on the Great Sandy Strait, this quiet fishing village offers an unforgettable opportunity to get up close and personal with wild Australian humpback dolphins. Here’s everything you need to know about dolphin feeding in Tin Can Bay.

How and when to visit Tin Can Bay?

This small coastal town is located just above the Sunshine Coast, 216km north of Brisbane. You can get there by car via the A1, renting a car from Brisbane, or taking the bus from Brisbane.

If you are visiting Tin Can Bay specifically for the dolphins, they are there all year round but only come out once a day between 7am and 8am.

Tin Can Bay’s sheltered coastline makes it perfect for any activity in or around the water, including sailing, kayaking and fishing. As the closest southern gateway to K’gari Fraser Island, it has over 140 species of birds that choose to call this place home, making it an ideal place for some bird watching.

You can visit the town and area throughout the year, although summer is the best time to enjoy the water activities and beaches.

Dolphins in Tin Can Bay

Why are there dolphins in the bay?

The Australian humpback dolphins that frequent Tin Can Bay are part of a small, local pod. These intelligent and friendly creatures visit the bay regularly, particularly in the early morning hours. The most famous of these dolphins is Mystique, a playful and sociable male who has been visiting the bay for many years.

These dolphins are not the same breed as the ones you will see at Monkey Mia. They are Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. As you can see on the pictures, they are grey and spotted.

Barnacles Dolphin Centre

The Barnacles Dolphin Centre, located at Norman Point in Tin Can Bay, is the heart of the dolphin feeding experience. This non-profit organization is dedicated to the conservation and education of the local dolphin population. The Centre operates under strict guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of both the dolphins and visitors.

The dolphin feeding experience typically begins early in the morning, around 7:00 AM. It is advisable to arrive early, as the dolphins usually visit the bay between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM. Unsupervised feeding of the dolphins is not permitted.

You cannot feed the dolphins independently. To approach the dolphins, you will have to pay 5$ and to feed them 10$.

Dolphin Feeding

It is possible to feed dolphins in Australia at Monkey Mia (West Coast) and at Tin Can Bay. This practice, although heavily regulated, remains controversial.

In Tin Can, the actual feeding session starts around 8:00 AM. Visitors can purchase a small bucket of fish to feed the dolphins. The feeding is supervised by trained volunteers and staff to ensure that it is conducted in a controlled and safe manner.

It is important to specify that in all cases, it is forbidden to touch the dolphins. It is also necessary to respect the prohibited swimming areas. The whole experience is controlled because the aim is to respect the natural instincts of the dolphins and not to prevent their development. For example, you will not be able to enter the sea without the green light from the guides, the number of fish given at a specific time is planned and only the females are fed. The dolphins are usually given one fifth of their daily food requirement, which ensures that they continue to hunt in the wild as well. The rangers are keen to preserve their instincts; it is vital that the dolphins can teach their offspring to fish in the wild for the survival of the species.

This activity is quite controversial. Is it too much of a tourist attraction, or is it a wonderful opportunity to be two steps (or two fins) away from these incredible mammals? Make up your own mind and see for yourself.

What to Expect

Interactive Experience: Feeding the dolphins is a hands-on experience that allows visitors to wade into the shallow waters and offer fish directly to the dolphins. This unique interaction provides an up-close view of these magnificent animals and an opportunity to observe their behavior in the wild.

Educational Insights: The volunteers and staff at Barnacles Dolphin Centre are knowledgeable and passionate about marine conservation. They provide informative talks about the dolphins, their habits, and the importance of protecting their natural habitat.

Photography Opportunities: The dolphin feeding experience offers excellent photo opportunities. Visitors are encouraged to bring their cameras to capture the memorable moments of feeding and interacting with the dolphins.

Feedback on the experience

Jennifer tells us about her experience with dolphins at Tin Can Bay. They wanted to get closer to the dolphins on the east coast.

“I chose to feed the dolphins and my partner just watched them. We were both able to get in the water and I was able to give him two fish that the Barnacles center had provided me. It was very quick, the dolphin quickly gobbled up the two. The lady who was with us told us to put our hand in the water because sometimes dolphins come and put their nose against your hand as if to say hello. That day there were only two dolphins, sometimes there can be more. We were not allowed to touch them, which is normal as they are wild dolphins.

It was quite a unique experience. Of course it is important that it is well supervised to avoid derives and to protect the species. I personally have very good memories of it.

Dolphins Australia

Other attractions in Tin Can Bay

Bird Watching: Tin Can Bay is also a haven for bird enthusiasts. The mangroves and coastal areas are home to a variety of bird species, perfect for bird watching.

Water Activities: The calm waters of Tin Can Bay are perfect for kayaking, boating, and fishing. Explore the bay and its surrounding waterways for a relaxing day on the water.

Tin Can Bay Wildflower Walk: For nature lovers, the Tin Can Bay Wildflower Walk offers a scenic trail through the local flora. This walk is particularly beautiful during the spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom.

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