Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

PROVES THE PERFECT MATCH; Feeding Tin Can Bay's Wild Dolphins Leaves a Lasting Impression on Writer Shirley Sinclair

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

PROVES THE PERFECT MATCH; Feeding Tin Can Bay's Wild Dolphins Leaves a Lasting Impression on Writer Shirley Sinclair

Article excerpt

SHE may be wild but she is much better mannered than my pet cattle dog when food is around.

Patch the Dolphin has popped in with 23-year-old pod alpha male Mystique for the 8am feeding time at the Tin Can Bay Dolphin Centre at Barnacles Cafe.

Mystique has been interacting with Tin Can Bay locals and tourists all his life as a third-generation visitor.

Dolphins have been coming to the cafe for a free feed since the 1950s, when one - nicknamed Old Scarry - beached himself on the sand after reportedly being cut by a boat propeller.

The locals and fishermen felt sorry for him and started to feed him as he convalesced in the area.

Old Scarry eventually returned to the wild but regularly came back to visit and enjoy more easy treats.

A second dolphin nicknamed Scarry also began visiting and arrived in the bay in 1991, with her calf Mystique.

Scarry has not been seen since 2004, and, for a time, Mystique also took a break from the dolphin centre but returned after a couple of months with Patch, now his 20-something friend.

A younger member of his pod, Harmony, has also been appearing in recent times to become a fourth-generation visitor. And so this regular interaction with the normally shy dolphins has become an unexpected tourist attraction.

The dolphins, which change in colour according to age from grey to cream or pink, grow to more than 2.5m in length, with long beaks and mounded forehead.

Fatty tissue in their backs, that increases with age, and their elongated dorsal fin give them the humpback appearance.

Mystique and Patch's calm nature already has won over the 100-strong school-holiday crowd when our two-day Fraser Island tour group arrives in The Discovery Group "Warrior" 4WD vehicle.

Today's pair wait patiently beside the two female volunteers standing in the water as we are educated about Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin behaviour and the do's and don'ts around them (no mobile phones and no flash photography, especially). …

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