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Tweed Eco Cruises

Meet the Wildlife We Encounter

Ecotourism also encompasses native wildlife. This means we should allow wildlife space and avoid interruption to the natural order as much as possible. In our Eco-Cruises, for instance, we maintain a safe and respectful distance from dolphins, birds and other wildlife that we encounter. This enables us to give our guests the thrilling and educational experience of seeing these animals in the wild, while still prioritising our responsibility towards our local wildlife. 

The Tweed River is home to a diverse array of wildlife, both in and around its waters. This thriving ecosystem supports a range of species, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.

Now, let's take a closer look at some of the fascinating locals we often encounter during our cruises:

Tweed River Estuary Resident Dolphins

At Tweed Eco our crew are Dolphin Watch Citizen Scientists, and we encourage our guests to become one too!

Our crew participate in dolphin workshops with Dolphin Research Australia! These seminars help our crew understand the importance Tweed Eco holds as the most frequent cruisers and dolphin spotters on the river!

We work with Dolphin Research Australia by simply reporting our dolphin sightings and entering the species, location and what they are doing. This simple report can help monitor and understand our local population of dolphins. 

In the link attached you see the fin ID card of the Tweed Estuary Resident Dolphins, meaning on our cruises we can identify them by the unique patterns of notches and scars on their dorsal fins. 

On our boats you can find a QR code to report your sightings, a pocket guide to Dolphin Watching in Australia or you can ask our crew for some of their knowledge of our local dolphin population. 

However, we are excited to share a unique characteristic of our resident dolphins – their love for bow-riding. Bow-riding is a self-endorsed and playful behaviour displayed by our dolphins, where they swim alongside the bow of our Golden Swan Vessel, seemingly enjoying the interaction.

While we never force or initiate bow-riding, we appreciate and embrace this playful encounter when our resident dolphins choose to engage in it. It is a testament to the trust and comfort they feel in their natural environment.

The Tweed River estuary plays a vital role as a habitat for a local population of indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins. These dolphins are long-term residents who rely on the estuary for essential activities such as resting, feeding, and socialising. During our eco-cruises, it is common for us to encounter two well-known resident males named Kingy and Herbie, as well as a pod of approximately 55 dolphins that call Fingal Head their home. The presence of these dolphins adds a special charm to our cruises, allowing guests to witness the beauty and interconnectedness of this remarkable marine ecosystem.

Tweed River Estuary Resident Birds

We are truly fortunate to have the opportunity to monitor our beloved resident pelicans during our Bush Tucker Cruises. Our friendly pelicans have taking akin to our local skipper Eric, who we have self-proclaimed as our Wildlife Warrior of the Tweed River. On our cruises, our pelicans get a small monitored feeding of fish carcasses collected from our local fishermen.

It breaks our hearts to witness the harm caused by fishing line entanglements. However, the trusting relationship our crew have built with our wildlife means our dedicated skipper, Eric, can go above and beyond to catch and remove fishing line from our birds. For injuries that are beyond our control, we partner with Seabird Rescue to ensure our Seabirds are correctly cared for.

Tweed Eco's Pelican group varies from 30 to 50 pelicans, they work together in cooperative groups when hunting for fish, herding their prey to shallow water where they can scoop up their dinner in their huge bills. A pelicans bill and pouch play an important role in feeding. The bill is sensitive, and this helps locate fish in cloudy and muddy water.

Throughout our River and Rainforest cruise, we feature a birds of prey feeding at Stott's island. Throughout this monitored feeding we encounter multiple species of, Brown Kites, Brahminy Kites, Black Kites, White Bellied Sea Eagles, Sternidae, Pelicans and Seagulls. This becomes a unique opportunity for our guests to have an educational opportunity seeing our birds in action.

Rare Dugong sightings in Tweed River

In the past 12 months, there have been several sightings of a dugong in the Tweed River, leading to the belief that this rare marine animal has made the river its home. It is speculated that the dugong may have relocated to the Tweed area following the impact of the 2022 flood, potentially being displaced from the Moreton Bay region due to poor water quality.
At Tweed Eco, we prioritise the conservation of our marine ecosystem. When operating in shallow water, we take great care to avoid chopping up seagrass beds with our propellers. Additionally, we exercise extreme caution when operating near these seagrass beds, as they are not only important for our dugong guest but also for our resident dolphins and turtles. We understand the significance of preserving these habitats and the vital role they play in supporting our local wildlife.
For more information about the recent dugong sightings, we encourage you to read the Tweed Shire Council Media Release. We are dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation for our natural environment and its inhabitants.