Fisherman fined for hand-feeding wild dolphin at Tin Can Bay – ABC News

Fisherman fined for hand-feeding wild dolphin at Tin Can Bay - ABC News

Queensland wildlife rangers are pleading with the public to not feed wild animals when visiting popular tourism destinations these holidays.

A fisherman has been fined for hand-feeding a wild dolphin off the coast of Tin Can Bay, less than three hours north of Brisbane.

Senior wildlife officer Tina Ball said Queensland Parks and Wildlife launched an investigation when a video was shared online, that showed several dolphins approaching the boat.

“We contacted the people in the video, one feeding the dolphin and one videoing the interaction,” she said.

“They admitted that they fed the dolphin and didn’t realise it was an offence to do so.

“They’ve been issued a penalty infringement notice which is more lenient than going to court where a maximum court prosecution could be $11,000.”

One of the men was fined $431.

“Skippers must not approach within 150 metres in front of and behind a pod of dolphins and 50 metres if approaching from the sides of the pod,” Ms Ball said.

“If a dolphin approaches a boat the skipper must disengage the gears or withdraw from the area at a speed less than six knots.”

Public awareness

Ms Ball said rangers were on the ground at Tin Can Bay and the nearby coast of Rainbow beach, following an increase in illegal interaction.

“Down at rainbow beach where we have quite a few reports of illegal dolphin feeding, staff will interact with people down at the boat ramp to try to educate them about the regulations,” she said.

“You can’t put a sign on every boat ramp throughout Queensland, that’s just not practical.”

Dolphins can transfer diseases to humans.()

Ms Ball said the laws prevented disease and injury.

“If dolphins associate feeding with humans, it can increase a risk of boat strikes, or entangling in fishing apparatus,” she said.

“Feeding un-fresh fish can cause health issues, and it can interfere with natural feeding behaviour and pod behaviour as well,” she said.

“The other thing that a lot of people aren’t aware of is that pneumonic diseases that can be transferred between the dolphin and the people … it can cause death, it can make them weak.”

Reporting an offence

A popular Tin Can Bay cafe that offers a dolphin feeding experience follows strict rules around the type and quantity of fish that is fed to a local pod of wild Australian humpback dolphins.

“This is a regulated activity overseen by the department and ensures the dolphins don’t receive their daily food intake at Barnacles Cafe, and continue to hunt for fish in the wild,” Ms Ball said.

Ms Ball said any incidents outside of the cafe where a member of the public is seen feeding a wild marine mammal should be reported to Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

“We always encourage the public to report any illegal interactions to us by calling 1300 130 372, and we can then investigate further.”


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