I'm a University student studying genetics, keen on species conservation and the environment. I love the outdoors, water sports, bike riding, languages, music, art and much, much more.
Published August 30th 2012
Say the word dolphins and you immediately have someone's attention. These beautiful, graceful creatures of the sea are enticing and awaken the imagination or children and adults alike, so how amazing would it be if you had the chance to observe them in their natural habitat? I'm not talking about going to the museum, or Melbourne Aquarium. No, I'm talking about Sea Kayaking with dolphins!
Just a 1.5 hour drive from Melbourne is the sleepy town of Point Leo. There I joined a group of avid sea kayakers to search for dolphins. As a flatwater K1 paddler (a boat designed only for rivers such as the Yarra), I had to learn an entirely new set of paddling skills, however the group was accommodating and paddled to my abilities.
We started out at Point Leo beach and first headed about 1km off shore, and while the more experienced sea kayakers played in the surf, I hung around with some other newbies and acclimatised myself to the conditions and paddling in the ocean. We headed out towards Belnarring beach with the promise of dolphins, whilst continually hoping that the weather would hold out, so that we would be able to paddle further along the coast to reach Somers, where dolphins frequented the water. Unfortunately the weather was not our friend that day, and with frequent showers and gusts of wind we felt it was safer to turn around Belnarring Beach.
Regardless I still had the time of my life out there, and whilst being afraid of the ocean and its massive waves (2m surf and 3m waves!) I made it back alive and in good spirits. Sea kayaking on the ocean is nothing short of an adventure and I recommend this activity to everyone keen on a completely new experience and something you'll remember for the rest of your life.
Out on the ocean, your trip will always depend on the weather and it's best to dress accordingly. My parents would tell you to dress like an onion – in layers, definitely with a good pair of thermals and a spray jacket or light rain coat, or if you have a neoprene suit wear one of those. Although I did this activity with a group of paddlers not affiliated with any organisation, there are groups that will take you out for a 2 hour paddle to search for dolphins in a perhaps more sheltered area in the bay. With a quick Internet search I identified a group that does tours for families with children of at least 10 years of age. Bayplay takes daily dolphin tours around the Dolphin Sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula. It is an experience not to be missed, although I would suggest to wait until it is a little warmer.
The waters surrounding Mornington Peninsula and Port Phillip Bay are home to numerous species, including Bottlenose Dolphins, Common Dolphins and Australian Fur Seals. Now if that doesn't excite you, then I don't know what will!