Peel-Harvey resident dolphins become entangled in waste left in water

A Peel-Harvey resident dolphin calf, Halo, was severely entangled in rope in May 2016. He was only three months old at the time and still dependent on his mother, Hatrick. As the rope was tight around the body and also trapped in his mouth, it was decided that intervention was required to save Halo’s life.

When entanglements involve the mouth of the animal, there is a potential that they are not able to feed and may suffer starvation and eventually an agonising death. A senior wildlife officer Doug Coughran from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) with the help of Mandurah Volunteer Dolphin Rescue Group located Halo and managed to free him from the entanglement. Today, two years later, we regularly observe Halo, seemingly healthy and happy, with her mother in the Peel-Harvey waterways. We expect him to be weaned off his mother in a year’s time.

In May 2017 we observed another entanglement of a juvenile dolphin, Goose, who is often observed in Dawesville Cut. Goose was orphaned in 2016 when he was still with his mother and less than three years old. Having survived becoming an orphan, he now faced another challenge of having an entanglement on his tail.

We monitored Goose while he had the entanglement and observed him feeding successfully, not losing body condition and his movement wasn’t restricted. Capturing him to disentangle the tail fluke would have been difficult and most likely very stressful to him. The entanglement was not thought to be life threatening in this case and therefore there was no intervention to disentangle the tail.

The type of entanglement like Goose had where line is wrapped around a dolphin’s tail fluke, pectoral or dorsal fins, can lead to amputation of that part of the body. Luckily now, a year later, Goose is doing well, associating with other juveniles and although his tail fluke is intact, it does show the scarring from the now cleared entanglement.

To keep our dolphins safe, please take all your rubbish home with you and report any wildlife in trouble to the DBCA WILDCARE helpline on 9474 9055.