The tale of Peel-Harvey estuary dolphin 01

Meet 01, a Peel-Harvey Estuary resident who first made headlines in 1990 when he got trapped by low tide, together with nine other male dolphins, in Lake Goegrup.

One of a kind: The freeze-brand visible on 01s dorsal fin. Photo: supplied.

One of a kind: The freeze-brand visible on 01s dorsal fin. Photo: supplied.

Eight of the dolphins who survived were herded into a shallow bay, captured and transported to be released into deeper water.

Prior to their release, they were all freeze-branded with an identifying number on their dorsal fin for monitoring purposes.

At the time of the stranding, 01 was classed as an adult and was measured to be 2.2 meters long.

This means he was approximately 10 years old.

In 1997, 01 stranded again in Lake Goegrup. This time the stranding involved five other dolphins, all apart from 01 different to those stranded in 1990.

As before, the dolphins were moved and released to deeper water. 01 has sustained sunburn injury while being stranded and the resulting scarring is still visible on his body.

Appearing to stay out of trouble for a while, in May 2012, 01 was seen posing a substantial shark bite wound on the right hand side of his body.

Luckily not life threatening, this wound has healed well.

As part of our research activities since 2016, we have observed 01 on over 50 occasions.

Like other male dolphins, he has formed a tight association with two other estuary resident males, 14 and Blake.

In January 2018, 01 and 14 were found stranded together for three days in a pool surrounded by sandbanks at Herron Point right at the southern end of the Harvey Estuary.

They made it to deeper water without human intervention.

Although 01 is mostly sighted in the Peel-Harvey Estuary, we have observed him occasionally venture out to sea.

He spends time on his own and sometimes in bigger groups of up to 30 individuals, but mostly where-ever he is, 14 and Blake are by his side.

Today 01 is estimated to be approximately 2.5 meters long and approaching his forties.

With bottlenose dolphin life expectancy at around 45 years old, 01 is likely one of the oldest males currently residing in the estuary.