Monday, May 6, 2013

Isolated Dolphin reunited with wild pod on NSW South Coast

Credit: Office of Environment & Heritage - NSW Government

On May 2, 2013, a team of marine mammal experts captured and relocated a lone dolphin that had been frequenting Sussex Inlet on the South Coast of NSW since September 2012, and soon after its release at Bendalong Beach, it was interacting with wild pods.

The dolphin separated from its pod and entered St Georges Basin in September, 2012. National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) had been monitoring the animal for a number of months and hoped it would return to open waters and join a pod in the wild. Geoff Ross, the NPWS Marina Fauna Coordinator said the decision to move the dolphin had unanimous support from marine mammal experts. “We were increasingly concerned for public safety, as experience overseas has shown lone dolphins can inflict serious injuries, either through robust play or aggressive behaviour. We also held concerns the dolphin would fall victim to a boat strike or entanglement because it frequently approached vessels and had minor scarring from a recent encounter with a propeller” said Mr Ross. “Intervention is always a last resort but in this case we took action in the best interest of the animal’s welfare and to give it a chance to reunite with its family group.”

Representatives from the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), SeaWorld, Dolphin Marine Magic, the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA), Dolphin Research Australia, and the RSPCA, as well as local vet Justin Clark, managed the relocation. The dolphin was relocated from Sussex Inlet to Bendalong Beach, and was soon observed interacting with wild pods, investigating its former range, and feeding.

Mr Ross thanked the communities of St Georges Basin and Sussex Inlet for their cooperation and understanding regarding this popular dolphin. “For many people, today will be a sad day farewelling this dolphin, but returning her to the wild is best for her welfare.”

ORRCA volunteers will continue to monitor this dolphin, however the signs are strong that she has been successfully returned to the wild. Research shows dolphin pods along the South Coast tend to stay in their home range, so look closely at the next dolphin pod on the beach because she may among them.

The public can help track the success of this dolphin relocation by reporting sightings to ORRCA on orrca@orrca.org.au or by using the online form on www.dolphinresearchaustralia.com. Please note the date, time and location if you see this dolphin, which has a distinctive triangular nick missing from the upper half of its dorsal fin.

Source: Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet

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