dolphins-w-reynolds-656x388 Dolphins are one of the most popular animals in the wild, with their beautiful streamlined bodies, friendly ‘smiley’ faces and intelligent behaviour.

When out whale watching, you will most likely catch a glimpse of dolphins too. Get out into NSW’s national parks at these whale watching hotspots for a chance to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.

Dolphins are the most abundant and varied of all cetaceans, and can be found in the open ocean, close to the coast in estuaries and in rivers. There are over 40 species of dolphins worldwide.

Dolphins are toothed whales and eat a variety of fish, squid and octopus. Their size varies enormously, from the small maui or hector’s dolphin (1.4m and 50kg) to the large orca or killer whale, which can be around 9m long and weigh over 7.5 tonnes.

Dolphins are social creatures that live in pods of up to 12 individuals; however pods can be larger where there is an abundance of food.

Watch dolphins in NSW

Bottlenose dolphins are a relatively common sight along the entire NSW coastline. This species’ dark grey back and light grey belly colouring acts as camouflage and helps protect them from attacks by their natural enemies – killer whales and sharks. They can often be seen in bays and estuaries opening to the sea, and also ‘surfing’ in waves as they are forming and breaking.

One of the best places to see dolphins are in NSW’s national parks. The region around Jervis Bay on the NSW South Coast, and Port Stephens on the NSW Mid North Coast provide the perfect opportunities to view these happy mammals.

Did you know that around 90-120 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins live permanently in the waters of Port Stephens within the Port Stephens – Great Lakes Marine Park, making it one of the most popular places in the world for dolphin watching?

Find out more in our downloadable Port Stephens dolphin guide and learn some more interesting facts about these dolphins on our blog.

To help protect dolphins it is important to keep the environment clean. Rubbish and plastic waste that ends up in the water can impact negatively on dolphins, which become entangled or swallowed, mistaking it as food. Dolphins can sometimes strand, either alone or in groups. View more information on the conservation of these amazing animals.

If you find a beached dolphin, keep it wet and cool, and call the ORRCA 24 hour rescue line: 02 9415 3333.