Swan River Dolphins

Good listeners? Too much noise? Dolphin communication in the Swan River

  • $1,739

    pledged of $7,500

    • 30


    • 0


This project received pledges on Mon 14 Dec 2015

Our Goal 

To understand the noise environment of the Swan River as part of a larger, long-term study on dolphin ecology and behaviour.

Have you ever wondered how dolphins navigate the highly dynamic underwater worlds of our oceans and rivers or how they communicate with each other?

Just over 20 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins inhabit Perth’s Swan River. They share it with many other users: a busy port; multiple car, truck and train bridges; ferries; boats; and various on-shore and marine construction projects. On a daily basis, they must navigate this busy, noisy waterway to successfully forage, maintain their community bonds and social networks, bring up their young and of course rest when they are tired.

Visibility in water can be very poor (this is certainly the case in parts of the Swan River!), so dolphins have evolved an advanced ability to use sound to navigate their environment. Unfortunately, we know very little about the sound environments in which dolphins live, and whether in very noisy environments there are limitations to their aptitude to achieve the daily tasks necessary to maintain their livelihood.

We plan to uncover some of this hidden information by setting up listening stations. These listening stations measure the soundscape in which they live, and will reveal any key locations where there is noise that may interfere with dolphin communications. Only by understanding this can we begin to gain an insight into how flexible dolphins are in coping with a changing and increasingly demanding environment.

We require many listening stations to obtain a solid picture of the soundscape. Additionally we need funds to cover the costs of the complex analysis of acoustic signals. Your support could cover part of the cost of a listening station; or part of the cost of interpretation of the acoustic measurements and telling the 'sound story' from a particular location.

If just 300 of Curtin’s 190,000+ alumni support this initiative with $25 each, we can reach our goal of $7,500 and have a much better understanding of the sound environment in which the Swan River dolphins live.


What can your money do?

$15 - What’s that sound? A small donation can help us analyse data in greater depth.

$40 - Service needed! Contribute to the service of a listening station.

$100 – A week in the life of a dolphin. Help us analyse the noise environment for a week in the life of a dolphin.

$500 – A significant donation could see more listening stations being installed in the Swan River.

Money isn't everything! You can also help us by sharing this project with your friends and family via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and #curtintogether