The Dolphins of Shark Bay

Image for The Dolphins of Shark BayNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Natural World, 2010-2011 Episode 6 of 14

Duration: 1 hour

A dolphin is about to be born in the treacherous waters of Shark Bay in Western Australia. Puck, the wise mother, must use all her skills to keep her newborn safe from the sharks that sweep into the bay every year. With the help of her close knit family of females she must teach the vulnerable baby dolphin the secrets of survival. From whistling to her unborn calf, to the first few hours of baby Samu's life and the struggles her eldest son faces leaving home, this film provides a rare insight into the lives of bottlenose dolphins.



    Find out more about bottlenose dolphins and other Natural World animals at the BBC Wildlife Finder.

    BBC Wildlife Finder
  • Baby bottlenose dolphin

    Baby bottlenose dolphin

    Baby Samu must quickly learn to swim without his mother's support. In Shark Bay, bottlenose dolphins are at risk from shark attacks, especially calves like Samu. The first three years of a calf's life is particularly dangerous with almost 50% being killed.

  • Baby and mother bottlenose dolphin

    Baby and mother bottlenose dolphin

    One day old Samu takes one of his first breaths. Born at night to avoid the threat of sharks, Samu must stay close to mother Puck as they swim in the shallow waters of Shark Bay. The bay supports a large population of bottlenose dolphins including groups which have developed extraordinary hunting techniques. Puck's group, the Beachies, have developed special methods of hunting fish in shallow water.

  • Dolphin catching fish

    Dolphin catching fish

    Another group of bottlenose dolphins, resident to shark bay, has developed a unique hunting technique. The dolphins drive fish into shallow water and as they approach the shore, one dolphin will accelerate and aquaplane into centimetres of water, snatching the fish. Only a few females in the group have learnt to do this, however it is passed down through generations with young dolphins watching from the shallows.

  • Scientist Janet Mann

    Scientist Janet Mann

    Janet Mann is the scientist behind the research at Shark Bay, Western Australia. She has followed Puck for over 20 years and witnessed Puck rear five calves. Samu is the sixth, but despite Puck's experience, she must remain vigalent to protect against the dangers facing Samu. Many dolphins in the Bay bear scars from encounters with sharks and Janet hopes that Samu will not become the latest victim.


Executive Producer
Sarah Cunliffe
Tim Martin
Nick Stringer


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