Dophins were seen frolicking in the Brisbane River recently. But why?

22 February 2018

Have you heard about the dolphins having a swim in the Brisbane River recently? It's true! A pod of friendly dophins were spotted frolicking around New Farm, Bulimba and even South Bank in recent days. So, is the Brisbane River becoming cleaner? Are the dolphins lost? Can they survive in the muddy water? We decided to ask the experts.

Healthy Land and Water Principal Scientist Dr Paul Maxwell said while the appearance of dolphins in the river is uncommon, it’s not unheard of.

He said the combination of king tides and low rainfall are the main factors behind the pod’s cheeky trip upstream.

“Because of the lack of recent rain, there is very little freshwater being washed into the river, which means king tides have washed a lot more salty Moreton Bay water into the river.”

“The salty water carries Moreton Bay fish up the river and the hungry dolphins chase the fish,“ he said.

So there you go! It seems the dolphins are just a tad hungry. But now isn’t the time to get attached, according to our expert.

Dr Maxwell said it’s likely the dolphins will not stay around long, and recent rain will encourage the pod to return to the bay.

He said the recent presence of dolphins in the Brisbane River is simply part of the cyclical nature of the river and it’s a phenomenon we’ve seen before.

“When South East Queensland was stricken by drought in the mid-2000s, we started to see a lot more marine species moving upstream into the mouth of our rivers,” he said.

“We saw a lot of dolphins in that horrific drought swimming up to Goodna and Jindalee thanks to the combination of low rainfall and king tides."

Lastly, are the dolphins safe swimming in a river that is colloquially named the ‘Brown Snake’?

“We have no evidence to suggest it would be harmful for a dolphin to swim in the Brisbane River," he said.

So now you know!