Dolphin-watching in the waters of Port Stephens

Located in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Port Stephens remains one of the big-ticket Sydney tours destinations popular for dolphin watching onboard a cruise. Enjoy your Port Stephens tours with the bottlenose dolphins of Nelson Bay.   


Plan a Sydney tours itinerary and travel 200 kilometres northeast of the city to Port Stephens. It usually takes at least 3 hours of drive to reach Australia’s dolphin sanctuary.

Visit Nelson Bay to have fun in its turquoise waters. But don’t miss the main stars of the day: the bottlenose dolphins! Dolphin-watching onboard a cruise ship is a daily regular tourism activity in Port Stephens.

Dolphins have made the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park their permanent home. Traditionally, there was a spiritual connection between dolphins and the Aboriginal Worimi people. In the past, the Worimi elders talked and communicated with the dolphins. Even today, some elders still keep in touch with Guppar, the local name for dolphins.

Sleek, streamlined, and with broad and triangular dorsal fins, Bottlenose dolphins are a common sight in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Their sizes vary. The smaller dolphins weigh around 90 kilograms, but some can grow up to 650 kilograms. An average dolphin is around 200 kilograms.

Like any other mammals, dolphins breathe, sleep, and in need of water. But they have them in unique ways. They get their water from food like fish, squid, and octopus. Dolphins feed on seafood, consuming between 10 and 23 kilograms of fish a day. They sleep by moving slowly in the water and surfacing to breathe with their blowholes. They use a blowhole to inhale and to exhale. It only takes less than a second to complete a breathing cycle. But they can hold breath up to 20 minutes.

They’re pretty fast swimmers they can swim up to 35 kilometres per hour. And have a very good eyesight too they can see underwater requiring only less amount of light.

There are three types of dolphins you can encounter in the waters of Port Stephens: the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, and common bottlenose dolphins. Around 150 to 200 individuals live and breed in this dolphin community. Another dolphin community can be found in the waters near Broughton Island.

In Port Stephens, dolphins are treated like rock stars. They are a popular attraction, entertaining visitors and locals alike, which makes your Sydney tours to Nelson Bay more fun and exciting. They follow you and they are watching you on board a boat watching them. Yes, it’s a two-way affair. So, it is important that we also protect them.

Besides common predators in sharks and killer whales, humans are also a threat to the dolphins. There had been cases of dolphin entanglement with fishnets and fishing lines. Accidents also occur, like boat strikes. Water pollution caused by human threatens the dolphin population. But the most dangerous threat so far is overfishing, depriving the dolphins of their daily staples.

As you watch the dolphins have fun watching you, you can also protect and take care of them. You can appreciate them without disturbing their natural habitat.

To book your cruise check out Moonshadow-TQC Cruises, they have onboard commentary about the dolphins of Nelson Bay. And if you want to know more about how to protect the natural marine habitat of Port Stephens, check out the Office of Environment & Heritage NSW or the Department of Primary Industries NSW on information about fishing.

We at Wildlife Tours promote responsible ecotourism. Book one of our Sydney tours packages that lets you enjoy the blue waters of Port Stephens and see the dolphins. We offer a trip to three destinations – Port Stephens, Hunter Valley, and the Blue Mountains – in one amazing tour.


By Kelvene Requiroso, content writer and member of the SEO team of the Melbourne-based Get Lost Travel Group.

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