Adelaide Port River dolphins: starting from the beginning

Photo credit: Shane Yeend

The story of the Adelaide Port River dolphins is much more interesting than I ever imagined!

To understand how Wave became such a famous tail walking dolphin, we have to revisit the year 1983 where it all started with a man, a dog, a horse and a dolphin named Billy.

Paul Huxtable shared this amazing story via email:

“Sandy Sandford was a retired water policeman. For over 15 years, Sandy used his dinghy to exercise race horses by taking them for a swim in the Port River. He recounted that he first met Billy around 1983 when he and his dog Bib noticed two dolphins during his regular early morning sessions. On that same day, Sandy observed the birth of Billy to one of those dolphins.

Photo credit: Shane Yeend

Soon after the birth, Sandy noticed the mother and the other dolphin having trouble holding the baby up, so Sandy motored over in his dinghy and lent a hand by holding Billy up by the dorsal fin until Billy was able to swim. Approximately 18 months later at a very young age, Billy was orphaned and befriended Sandy, his dog and a few horses, regularly swimming alongside them during training sessions in the Port River.” (Thanks to Paul for sending such a great story.)

Sandy played an integral role in Billy’s life early on, helping the dolphin breathe and then later as a swimming companion in the Port River. For more great photos of Billy swimming with Sandy, Bib and the racing horses, visit Paul’s website Adelaide Port River Dolphins.

But the story gets even more interesting. During 1988, Billy disappeared for three weeks and that’s when we learn how Wave became a tail walker…


  1. Donna says

    Years ago I read a picture book to my children about this man training horses with the dolphin Billie. I have been searching for the book since my adult kids had such fond memories of it.
    Can you tell me the title and author of the book?

    • Carolyn Kraft says

      Hi Donna! Sounds like a lovely book, alas I don’t know the name of it. If I’m able to find out more I will let you know!

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