NEXT time you’re in Bali for a few days of diving, you might also want to consider adding dolphin watching to your agenda. But wait, are there dolphins in Bali?

Absolutely! Bali does indeed have dolphins roaming about its waters. The island has whales as well, although the sightings are not as frequent as that of dolphins. There are at least 14 species of whales and dolphins in Bali, including spinners, spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Fraser’s dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and rough-toothed dolphins.

You’re likely to see a variety of dolphin species pretty much all year round. Dolphins are regularly sighted in the mornings off the southern peninsula, just half an hour by boat from crowded Denpasar via Benoa Harbour. Here, you typically find spinner dolphins doing somersaults, as they hunt food in the early hours of the day, although other species such as Risso’s dolphins and false killer whales may be seen as well, if you’re lucky.

Eilat, Red Sea: Common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), are the most familiar dolphins due to the wide exposure they receive in captivity in marine parks and dolphinaria and in movies and television programmes. This symbolic species is of “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List (Photo by Tobias Friedrich)

If you’re in the north of this paradise island, or planning to explore this more tranquil region of Bali, you can head to Lovina or Bondalem in Buleleng for some dolphin sightings at the break of day.

Established around 1987, the industry in Lovina has grown exponentially, and it can feel rather crowded here when you have 40 other boats around you trying to catch a glimpse of dolphins as well. Bondalem, a village 40 kilometres east of Lovina, started the industry around 2001. Not as many boats operate in Bondalem, so the experience can be much more relaxing than Lovina. Spinners and Fraser’s can be seen off both Lovina and Bondalem.

The false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) is the third largest member of the oceanic dolphin family (Delphinidae) and is listed as “Data Deficient” on the IUCN Red List (Photo by Amanda Cotton)

As responsible tourists, we need to ensure that there’s an adequate distance between our boats and the dolphins. Some international guidelines suggest stopping the boat 50 metres from the dolphins and from there, allow the animals to swim towards you – instead of the other way around. We also need to ensure people don’t feed the dolphins, or worse, throw garbage in the sea. It’s easy for these animals to misidentify litter as food and ingest it.

The pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata) is a species found in all the world's temperate and tropical oceans, under threat due to the mass killing of individuals in tuna purse seines, a method of fishing that employs a seine or dragnet (Photo by Amanda Cotton)

Dolphins and other marine life have been found dead at beaches around the world with plastic waste inside their stomachs. We can help by doing our utmost to prevent littering in the ocean. And if you do find any stranded whales or dolphins in Bali, contact the national marine mammal stranding network for help – they are trained to assist and hopefully save the lives of these hapless marine mammals.

Read the rest of this article in 2015 Issue 2 Volume 137 of Asian Diver magazine by subscribing here or check out all of our publications here.

Post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.