On July 1, a deceased dolphin was found in the Dawesville cut.
This dolphin was known to us as Caboose, an adult female with a calf named Goose.
We identified her by the nicks on the edge on her dorsal fin and the scars on her head.
She was also distinctly dark in colour in comparison to other dolphins.
Since we started our research in January we’d seen Caboose and Goose on multiple occasions in the Cut or just outside in coastal waters.
In the weeks prior to finding Caboose’s body we’d noticed she was losing weight, which can indicate poor health.
When a dolphin is found dead in Mandurah, the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) are usually the first to find out about it through public reporting.
If the deceased dolphin is in a reasonably good condition, it will be taken to Murdoch University for an autopsy.
Most often we will not find out why an animal has died; however, the samples and information collected contribute to multiple research projects and our knowledge on the species.
We did not perform an autopsy on Caboose but we measured her body, collected tissue for genetic analysis and extracted her teeth to determine age.
Since Caboose passed, we have seen her calf, Goose, swimming in the Dawesville cut and the Mandurah channel with other mums and calves.
We will keep a watchful eye on her!
The Mandurah Dolphin Research Project is a partnership between Murdoch University, City of Mandurah and Mandurah Cruises that commenced in January 2016.
They are measuring how many dolphins use the Peel-Harvey waterways and how they are connected to dolphins in nearby coastal waters.
You can follow the project on Facebook or through this fortnightly column.