MURDOCH University researchers have “grave concerns” for the dolphin known as Fingers, last spotted in Cockburn Sound with fishing line wrapped around it.
Fingers, which features distinctive markings on its dorsal fin, is well-known to Sound researchers and fishers.
Cetacean researcher Hugh Finn cocedes the chance of catching Fingers to free it is low.
“Dolphins can’t remove entangled fishing line themselves, so gradually the line cuts deeper into the tissue, which can lead to amputation of the fin or fluke or infection and septicemia,” he says. “Alternately, the wound and any associated tangles of line may become debilitating that they are no longer able to feed or keep away from sharks.”
Dr Finn says Fingers and other dolphins may beg for food, but he warns fishers not to feed the mammals as there is a risk they’ll be struck by propellers or become entangled in wire.
Injury and death
Last May researchers concluded dolphins that had learned to beg for food were more at risk from injury and death than others.
“The best things we can do for dolphins are to let them be and to use biodegradable fishing line,” Dr Finn says. Nine dolphins were documented with entanglement injuries in Cockburn Sound between 1996 and 2003.
by BRENDAN FOSTER