I have been studying a community of some 50 resident dolphins living in the Port River estuary (Adelaide, Australia) for the past 25 years. These dolphins are perhaps the most urbanised in the whole world, living as they do almost in the heart of a city of a million people.
About twenty years ago I observed a mum with a young dolphin with a vicious looking crescent scar across its whole dorsal fin. The scar was almost certainly the result of a shark attack. Presumably the calf’s mother had somehow repelled the shark and saved the young dolphin’s life.
It is always hard finding appropriate names for newly identified dolphins but in this case it was easy: this young dolphin with the shark attack scar had to be called Scarlett.
One of the joys of conducting long term research on the same group of dolphins is watching them develop over the years. Particularly satisfying is seeing female calves grow up and have their own calves, especially when, like Scarlett, their early lives were so precarious.
Dolphins in this community mostly give birth in late summer and during a survey last week I was overjoyed to discover Scarlett with a brand new calf. This calf still has clearly defined “foetal folds”, creases in its skin from when it was squashed up in its mother’s womb during the long 12 months of gestation, indicating it is still only a few days old.
WDC Australasia is relaunching our dolphin adoption program and we have decided to give new adopters the opportunity to name Scarlett’s new baby. We will choose what we think is the best name in a few weeks.
For further information about adopting an Australian dolphin please contact our Australian office at: [email protected]