Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch is an award winning community volunteer project in partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation, monitoring dolphin populations on Kangaroo Island since 2005 and Victor Harbor since 2011. Developing understandings of custodianship of these fascinating creatures and their habitats, dolphins are monitored unobtrusively, minimising impacts and behavioural change, collecting vital baseline data to globally inform practise. Scientists and dedicated volunteers of all ages collaborate on effective “Citizen Science” in surveys on Eco Tourism vessels; Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures and The Big Duck Boat Tours in Victor Harbor, contributing a staggering number of hours over 9 years. Images and video footage are collected, identifying individual dolphins by distinctive dorsal fins and body markings. Vital data is recorded on movements and habitats, creating a sustainable, longitudinal study of extraordinary international significance. Dolphin Watch is a brilliantly adaptable model for building coastal communities’ resilience and preparing for climate change issues. Creating a common focus for collaborative endeavours provides a perfect vehicle for galvanising cooperative effort. Focussing on an iconic, umbrella species allows for broadscale education about impacts and how to collaborate to mitigate anticipated effects. If we care for dolphins and habitats, we effectively conserve everything. Providing alternative incomes for struggling island communities, dependent upon ocean produce through involvement in rapidly burgeoning Research Tourism, dolphin and whale watching, developing quality marine sanctuaries and precincts with high appeal - there is much to be learned from this small island’s Dolphin Watch experience. In a new innovative strategy Dolphin Watch joined forces with SA’s tourist icon KI Sealink, providing global education and enhanced data collection through involvement of 70,000+ annual ferry passengers with potential for wider impact through Sealink’s expansion into Sydney, Townsville and Darwin. This social agenda initiative value adding to client experiences through nonfinancial interactions is cutting edge Research Tourism. A perfect example of lifechanging effective community action and custodianship - caring for our environment and natural resources, making global impacts and bringing about change. Focussing on welfare of an iconic species, our ocean equivalent, we highlight and address threats to lifestyles and habitat. Through widespread community involvement, including scientific entities, scope and impact are enormous relative to the volunteer base.
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