Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary

The Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM region is responsible for the management of the ADS and the implementation of the ADS management plan. Rangers and other AMLR Natural Resources staff patrol the sanctuary regularly to ensure that any breaches against the ADS Act 2005 and the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 are thoroughly investigated and addressed.

In addition of these efforts, volunteers coordinated by Natural Resources AMLR help protect the Sanctuary and its habitants by participating in water patrols, land patrols and outreach activities.For more information bout how to get involved and volunteer opportunities contact the ADS staff on the contact details above.

The Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary (ADS) was established in June 2005. The objectives of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Act 2005 are to protect the resident population of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in the Port River and Barker Inlet area and to protect the habitat on which they rely.

The ADS is an area of 118 square kilometres, which would equate to the entire size of Adelaide, North Adelaide and all the parklands fitted within the boundaries at least three times. The area covers the Inner Port, Outer Harbour, North Haven marina, and stretches north to Port Gawler. The boundary includes key habitat features such as mangroves, seagrass, saltmarsh, tidal flats, tidal creeks which all combine to provide habitat for the ADS dolphins and their food resources.

The Sanctuary is part of a busy living city and port, which has more than 2600 commercial ship movements through Port Adelaide every year. The Sanctuary contains power plants to provide power to the city; significant major industries that create jobs; as well as providing fishing and boating recreational activities; housing estates and has Aboriginal and European cultural and historical points of interest. Human industrial activities such as boating, stormwater runoff, water quality, pollution and rubbish all have impact on the waterways.

The Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary is not only about the dolphins, it is also about the environment in which they live. A healthy river is the key to a healthy dolphin population.There are about 30 resident Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins within the Sanctuary, with about 300 transient dolphins that visit each year at various times. It is important to remember that these dolphins are wild dolphins and come here to eat, play, socialise and live.

More information:

ADS Action Group img

Members of the ADS Action Group are proactive volunteers that give their time to help monitor and care for the ADS Dolphins and to help make the Port River and Barker Inlet a safer place for them to live. 

Under the guidance of the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) and in partnership with government and non-government organisations, and other community groups, the ADS Action Group helps with the on ground delivery of the objectives of the ADS management plan.

The groups focus is to:

  • Protect the Dolphins
  • Provide information and education to the community
  • Promote the environmental importance of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary.
  • Help with the delivery of the ADS management plan

No previous experience is required but medium or long term commitment is needed.

For more information go to


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