The man who found the body of Splash the dolphin calf floating near Perth Flying Squadron Yacht Club on Monday has urged people to take better care of our Swan River.
It was only last week that the body of Splash’s mother Highnitch washed up along the Swan tangled in fishing line with a plastic bag caught in it. Rangers had been looking out for her 18-month-old calf who also had fishing line wrapped around her tail fluke and was known to be struggling.
William Langley and his girlfriend Sasha had heard the public appeal for information about Splash and were walking their dog as they often do in the early evening, keeping one eye on the water. On Monday they saw something in the water that didn’t look right and Mr Langley walked to the end of the jetty.
When he saw Splash floating nearby the couple called the Wildcare helpline and Parks and Wildlife rangers, who came and retrieved the body.
“They tied it to the dinghy with a rope and dragged it back in to the beach,” Mr Langley said.
“It’s tragic that the death of the mum led to the death of the baby dolphin.
“I was quite upset by it and my partner is a marine scientist ... she was really upset.
“We always look to see them. Seeing these animals in their natural habitat is always a highlight. A couple of months ago we saw a pod going nuts, playing and feeding. It really makes your day.”
He said the Swan River was a "magic" place and all Perth residents should help protect it.
Splash has now been transported to Murdoch University for assessment and necropsy. She is the third of Highnitch’s calves to die, though her daughter Daniele survived to have her own calf, and they are still seen together in the river.
There are now only about 22 dolphins and four calves remaining in the Swan and Canning river dolphin group.
In 2009 an “unusual mortality event” in which six dolphins died within four months showed the small community was “highly vulnerable”.
Kerry Trayler, principal scientist with the Rivers and Estuaries team at the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions, said both dolphins had been entangled for several months.
“These animals are highly mobile and intelligent, and despite efforts to intervene over an extended period only part of the entanglement was able to be removed from Highnitch’s dorsal fin earlier this month,” she said.
“We urge people who visit our rivers to dispose of unwanted fishing line by either taking it home or putting it in the fishing line bins that are located at popular jetties, fishing platforms, traffic bridges and foreshores across the riverpark.”
Any sightings of sick, injured or orphaned wildlife should be reported to the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055. For more information on fishing line bins, visit the River Guardians website.