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Australian humpack dolphin
Australian humpack dolphin

Around 100 Australian humpback dolphins call Gladstone home!

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Australian humpback dolphin
Australian humpback dolphin

Australian humpback dolphins are easily distinguishable from their bottlenose cousins

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Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

Humpback whales are on their way to Gladstone as they migrate north - see if you can spot one!

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Australian humpack dolphin
Australian humpack dolphin

Around 100 Australian humpback dolphins call Gladstone home!

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Factsheets

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Activities

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Have a whale of a time with these oceanic mammals!

Whales and dolphins are cetaceans, the scientific order (or group) of marine mammals that share plenty in common with humans! Despite living in the ocean, like all mammals, cetaceans:

  • have hair

  • breathe air

  • drink milk when they’re young.

They are playful and intelligent animals that use sound in different ways to talk to one another, find their way, or catch food. Humpback whales even sing beautiful songs as they travel up and down the coast.

There are two types of dolphins that call the waters off Gladstone home — the Australian snubfin and the Australian humpback. The map below shows you where you're most likely to find them in the Gladstone region.

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You would probably recognise the Australian humpback as a dolphin, but the Australian snubfin (as shown in the picture below) is quite unique looking for a dolphin!

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Sleeping with one eye open!

Dolphins don’t sleep! It is thought that they rest one half of their brain at a time – so that they don’t forget to breathe!

The neverending journey...

 

Humpback whales can migrate more than 16,000 kilometres each year — one of the longest migratory journeys of any mammal on Earth.

I'm an individual

The Australian snubfin dolphin was only described as a unique species in 2005. Before that, observers thought they were Irrawaddy dolphins which is a dolphin species found in south and south-east Asia.

​A whale of a tale!

 

Weighing in at up to 40 tonnes (that's more than seven 21-seater school buses) and 15 metres in length, the humpback whale is the largest of the sea creatures found near Gladstone.

These gentle giants usually have black colouration on their upper body, with white areas on the belly, under their long pectoral fins and on the underside of their tail. These black and white markings are like fingerprints, so no two are the same!

Despite the great size of humpback whales, krill (crustaceans just five to six centimetres long) are their main food source. An example of krill is in the picture below.

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You can spot the humpbacks off the coast of Gladstone from June to August as they migrate north through the Great Barrier Reef to mate and give birth. They return past Gladstone from about September with their calves as they swim south to colder, food-rich waters near Antarctica for the summer. Check out our fact sheet for more of the low-down!

 

Humpback whale profile
Scientific name
Megaptera novaeangliae
Endangered status
Vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999, and Queensland's Nature Conservation Act, 1992
Life span
Known to live for more than 90 years
Classification
Mammal
Diet
Carnivore
Habitat
Ocean

​The humpback (dolphin) of Gladstone!

The Australian humpback (Sousa sahulensis) is one of two species of coastal dolphin found in the waters around Gladstone. The Australian humpback is quite pale in colour as you can see in the photo below.

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The Australian humpback dolphin is carnivorous and likes to eat fish, crustaceans (such as prawns and crabs) and cephalopods (like octopus and squid).

Because of the variety in their diet, you could find an Australian humpback grabbing a bite to eat around mangroves out in Gladstone Harbour or near local reefs. They are also regularly sighted in Auckland Inlet and around Spinnaker Park.

Check out our fact sheet on dolphins to learn more about their history, health, and habitats!

Australian humpback profile
Scientific name
Sousa sahulensis
Endangered status
Near threatened under the Queensland Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006
Life span
Known to live for more than 30 years
Classification
Mammal
Diet
Carnivore
Habitat
Coastal areas​ of northern Australia

The adorable and unique Australian snubfin

The Australian snubfin dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni) is the one of the two coastal dolphin species common to the Gladstone area.

Although the Australian snubfin and the Australian humpback have a lot in common, these two dolphins look very different. The snubfin dolphin is more portly than other Australian dolphins, is pale to dark brown in colour, and has shorter, rounded snout and fins, as shown in the picture below.

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The home range of the Australian snubfin is quite small — about 300 km2, or about half the size of Curtis Island — and centred on coastal waters north of Balaclava Island and west to the Fitzroy River.


Australian snubfin dolphin profile
Scientific name
Orcaella heinsohni
Endangered status
Near threatened under Queensland's Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006
Life span
Known to live for more than 30 years
Classification
Mammal
Diet
Carnivore
Habitat
Coastal areas​ of northern Australia
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Click here for the crossword solution

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