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Experts issue warning after pair of dolphins found dead: 'Please don't love them to death'

"We need to make sure that we protect it and don't cause too much interference."

"We need to make sure that we protect it and don't cause too much interference."

Photo Credit: iStock

A pair of dolphin deaths and other worrisome issues caused Australian wildlife conservationists to ask the public for help in protecting the incredible creatures.

What's happening?

Two dolphins were found dead in March in Mandurah, Western Australia, ABC South West WA reported. One of the mammals, a 14-year-old named River, had been entangled in a fishing line since 2020 and was pregnant.

"She's lived with that entanglement around her pectoral fin for the last four years and unfortunately was found dead," Jason Menzies said, citing the "hazardous environment in Mandurah in terms of public usage of the estuary and oceans." Menzies manages the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attraction's Dolphin Watch program.

More dolphins — social, intelligent beings that share emotional traits with humans — have been getting caught in fishing lines and other trash because more people are recreating on the water, the ABC reported, publishing disturbing pictures of entanglements.

One dolphin, Bistro, escaped plastic that encircled his body but was scarred by it. Tracker had braided fishing line caught on their tail. And Reggae constantly becomes entangled.

Why are dolphin entanglements important?

"A dolphin is a conscious breather. They have to remember to breathe and guess what? If you dart him with a tranquilliser and he basically gets knocked unconscious, he stops breathing and dies," Axel Grossmann, a volunteer at the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, said.

Hundreds of thousands of dolphins, whales, turtles, and other marine life die each year as a result of entanglements. With restrictions, the animals can drown or starve, get infections, or suffer other physical traumas.

Plastic refuse is an even bigger problem, with 10 million tons polluting oceans each year. There's so much that GOT BAG is collecting it, processing it, and turning it into polyester yarn to produce backpacks.

Aside from reducing or eliminating our consumption of plastic, reusing and recycling it is one of the best steps we can take to help the animal kingdom avoid suffering from this human creation.

What's being done to protect dolphins?

Feeding dolphins and approaching them is dangerous for the animals and people. Regulations in Mandurah say swimmers must remain 50 meters away, boaters 100, and drone users 60, the ABC reported.

Disposing trash is vital, as dolphins, especially younger ones, are naturally curious, the experts told the ABC. Other creatures, including seals, have had the same issues with waste in waters around the world.

"Dolphins coming close to boats to beg results in them being more prone and exposed to things like propeller strikes and entanglements," DBCA regional wildlife officer Pia Courtis said.

"I have actually observed boats where people jump into the pod of the dolphins and that's pretty unsafe for you, especially if you're throwing in your children, which I have seen."

Because dolphin species around the world are endangered, Courtis noted the population off the coast of Australia is "really quite important."

"We need to make sure that we protect it and don't cause too much interference," she said.

"I ask people to love our dolphins in the Bunbury area but please don't love them to death."

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