Dolphin put down

• “Erratic” sardine, such as this large school surrounding Ammo Jetty, were reported around Woodman Point on the weekend.

A BOTTLENOSE dolphin was euthanised after washing up on Coogee Beach on Tuesday morning.

It follows yet another investigation into mysterious fish deaths which have spread from Rockingham into Cockburn Sound this week, though wildlife officers say the dolphin and fish deaths aren’t likely to be related.

Slightly further up the coast, stingers have returned to South Beach, making it a busy week in the sound.

Staff from the biodiversity, conservation and attractions department had to put down the adult dolphin early Tuesday morning after it washed up near the new Coogee Beach surf lifesaving club overnight.

After consulting with Murdoch University and the Perth Zoo, it was decided the animal was too distressed to survive and it was euthanised, scooped up in a digger and taken to Murdoch University for a necropsy.

A DBCA spokesperson told the Herald there were no obvious signs of an injury and the death was probably of natural causes.

But there was something decidedly unnatural about the behaviour of Woodman Point’s sardines – otherwise known as scaly mackerel – which were “leaping out of the water”.

Last week more than 1000 washed up on the Rockingham foreshore, although other fish and the city’s famous dolphins seemed to be freely swimming around at the same time.

Fisheries says nothing from samples taken so far provided a clue about the cause of the deaths, although phytoplankton has been virtually ruled out and tests are continuing.

Then on Friday the department was called to investigate after 100 starfish washed up on Challenger Beach, and over the weekend Woodman Point’s fish started acting mysteriously.

The department’s fisheries director Rick Fletcher said people going for a swim as the weather heats up again should stay aware in case there were any more deaths.

“Fisheries officers will continue to monitor the beaches in case of further fish deaths and any additional species that may be observed,” Dr Fletcher said.

“The key advice around any fish kill is that you do not touch the affected fish or the water in their vicinity, or collect any fish for samples or use the dead fish as bait.

“It’s also important not to consume any fish that have been caught in the area of the fish kill.”

Meanwhile up at South Beach, Fremantle councillor Jon Strachan copped two stingers this week. He said the council had looked into stinger nets, but when the cost estimates continued to go up and up, the idea was dropped.


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