At Monkey Mia, feeding wild dolphins began in the 1960s but it wasn’t until 20 years later researchers discovered calves of these dolphins were dying. 90% of the calves had failed to reach adulthood.
Specific protocols were brought in, and later modified, to try and lessen the impact on calf mortality. A study identified that the protocols have only partially addressed the negative effects of food-provisioning, with “behavioural development” between mother and calf still being affected.
In 2019 Monkey Mia initiated a recruitment drive to increase the number of dolphins participating in their wild feeding program. The number of visiting dolphins at the time had dropped to just two adults, after three regular dolphins had gone missing (presumed dead).
The latest research from Janet Mann et al., is concerning. Their results show that hand-fed females in Monkey Mia have small home ranges compared to non hand-fed females – this is because they are staying near the fish hand-out sites.
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In January 2022, a spokesperson from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions said that plans were currently being reviewed to increase the number of dolphins participating in the Monkey Mia dolphin feeding program. We understand this review has not been made public.