A DOLPHIN rescue in the Leschenault estuary last weekend has once again shown how human interaction with the environment can negatively impact wildlife.
On Saturday, January 22, Dolphin Discovery Centre conservation manager Jan Tierney received a call from a concerned member of the public who had noticed a dolphin stranded in the estuary.
It appeared that at low tide, the dolphin had swum into the mouth of the Preston River which runs into the estuary.
The dolphin, a juvenile female, was believed to be Tsunami, a calf of local dolphin Wave, who was raised in the estuary and surrounding rivers.
Tsunami had a sunburnt dorsal fin, indicating she had been in the shallow end of the estuary for several days.
In collaboration with the state Parks and Wildlife department, Ms Tierney swung into action.
"I contacted one of our team members Axel Grossmann who was with his wife Lisa in the area already," Ms Tierney said.
"Using a drone, Axel realised that the dolphin had entered the estuary on high tide, but became stranded.
"It was a manmade dam - built with rocks by people who presumably wanted to walk across to the other side of the estuary - that had trapped her."
Once Axel, Jan and their team dismantled the rock wall, they then proceeded to wait for the tide to rise, which was expected that evening.
The team made the decision to return the next morning after first ensuring Tsunami had what she needed for the night.
"We knew that she had enough fish and that she'd be okay for the rest of the weekend, but the issue was that she was getting sunburnt because she couldn't fully submerge," Ms Tierney said.
"But because she was rolling over and wetting herself to stay cool we left her for the night, and then when I went down there the next morning she was gone - it was the perfect outcome."
Although not illegal, Ms Tierney urged the community to dismantle rock walls once they had been used.
"People don't realise that when a dolphin comes into a lagoon area at high tide, that when the tide drops down, they become trapped because of the rocks."
"We've probably had to assist about four dolphins that have become trapped in that area over the last few years, including one of our regular dolphins, Chocolate.
"If anybody sees a dolphin in distress, please call us."
If you see any dolphin in Western Australia in need of help call the DBCA Wildcare Helpline on 08 9474 9055 or the Dolphin Discovery Centre on 9791 3088 or 0407280020.
Visit the Dolphin Discovery Centre to donate to the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Environment Fund.