History of the local Bunbury Dolphins
During the mid 1960’s, Mrs Evelyn Smith, a local resident, began feeding the dolphins from a small jetty near her home on the Leschenault Inlet (directly south of the Discovery Centre). Unfortunately, she passed away in the early 70′s ceasing any regular feeding of the dolphins she befriended. Some dolphins continued to be fed by the public from areas nearby. However it wasn’t until 1989 that a dolphin specialist was hired by the newly established Bunbury Dolphin Trust to continue this tradition and begin feeding and studying the local dolphins of Koombana Bay.
From this work came the establishment of the Interaction Zone in 1990 and the Dolphin Discovery Centre in 1994 to allow tourists and members of the community to interact, understand and enjoy the group of five to six dolphins that regularly visit this Zone.
We don’t clearly understand why the dolphins continue to visit the Zone today however research does suggest that the small amount of food they receive as a reward for their visit is not the only attraction. There are many dolphins that visit the Zone regularly that do not receive any fish and many of them stay for extended periods of time for interaction with the human visitors.
Sick and injured dolphins also treat the beach as a haven, with some repeatedly visiting during periods of illness or injury.
A weekly dolphin visitation chart is maintained on site as a guide for people who visit the Centre.
The Dolphin Discovery Centre has finished stage one of its redevelopment to include new aquariums, the world’s first Digital Dolphinarium, a 3D short movie, beach wheelchair access and cafe. The DDC will continue to grow and increase its resources to further make its mark on the tourism industry and to continue to care and conserve the Koombana Bay dolphins.