Have you always wanted to feed wild dolphins?
At Tin Can Bay’s Barnacles Dolphin Centre you can do just that – and it’s a truly amazing experience!
Arguably one of the best things our family has ever done. For just $40, the four of us were able to get up close to these beautiful wild creatures and feed them!
Yes, you read that right, $40 for the experience of a lifetime!
That amount includes the $5 per person entry fee, plus $5 to cover the cost of each fish purchased. Only fish purchased at the site can be fed to the dolphins to ensure their quality and that they’re not contaminated etc.
Each dolphin can also only be fed a maximum of 3kg of fish each day. As we were there on a busy Saturday morning, we were allowed one fish each, although this is dependent on the size of the crowd on the day.
It’s so cheap because the whole operation is run by volunteers who are extremely knowledgeable and respectful to the dolphins. The dolphin feeding is regulated by the Queensland Government and the money raised from the fees goes towards the dolphins’ and their environment’s care.
Please adhere to any guidance the volunteers give you about interacting with the dolphins (for example, DON’T touch the dolphins as it’s prohibited by law!) They are wild animals and all advice/instructions are in the dolphins’ best interests.
FEED WILD DOLPHINS
LOCATION: Barnacles Dolphin Centre, Norman Point in Tin Can Bay, overlooking Snapper Creek. (Follow the main road through town and the dolphin centre is at the marina at the end of the road.)
For us, the day started early as we decided to make it a day-trip and drove up to Tin Can Bay from the Sunshine Coast (the trip will take 1 to 2 hours, depending on where you’re located on the Sunshine Coast).
You really want to make sure you arrive at the Barnacles Dolphin Centre by 7am for the full experience, as the Dolphin Centre opens at 7am and the viewing time is from 7am to 8am.
There is only one feeding session per day, commencing at 8am.
Remember, these are wild dolphins, so once they’re fed they generally swim back out into the wild immediately. If you’re there after 8am (as we have been in the past) you’ll likely only get a fleeting glimpse of them as they depart.
Volunteers welcome small groups at a time to join them in the water with these beautiful mammals as they explain all about them, their habits and their environment etc.
Expect to get wet at least up to the knees, so dress accordingly and, perhaps, pack some spare clothes as well (which were needed for our young son.)
Snapper Creek in Tin Can Bay is home to the Australian Humpback Dolphin, which is a river and estuarine dolphin, and there is a resident pod who frequents the Dolphin Centre, all of whom have their own names and personalities.
As they’re wild animals there’s no guarantee that they’ll arrive on time but on the day we were there 3 dolphins turned up for a feed – the pod’s alpha male Mystique, Chompy and Squirt.
They put on a real show for us, splashing the crowd and volunteers and even getting within centimetres of our feet at times.
After the viewing sessions, at 8am you will be given the fish you have purchased in a bucket and called back down to the water by the volunteers to feed the dolphins one at a time.
The fish are gobbled up pretty quick but it is a magical experience that you shouldn’t miss!
Afterwards, there is a cafe on site (open from 7am to 3pm daily) that serves up delicious and very generous breakfasts.
*Information correct at the time of publication.