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Anglers in the spotlight as shocking photos reveal baby dolphin’s first year in Aussie river

Heartbreaking photographs show a baby dolphin that’s become tangled in multiple strands of fishing line, making its first real life in an Aussie river a shocker.

One entanglement could be put down to a careless act by a fisherman, but the recurrence of the problem suggests there’s a sustained issue with anglers discarding fishing line across the country’s west.

A new image taken just two weeks ago on Perth’s Swan River shows the one-year-old animal with a line cutting deep into its dorsal fin.

“The yellow one you see is definitely a new line that’s caught. That one is from May 22, and on May 7 that line was not there,” dolphin expert Dr Delphine Chabanne told Yahoo News. “How many lines there are now, it’s unknown.”

During initial sightings of the dolphin calf, its dorsal fin was free of entanglement, but a new line was discovered two weeks ago. Source: Delphine Chabanne, CEDP

Dr Delphine, a research fellow at Murdoch University’s Center for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems, has been working with Dolphin Watch volunteers to monitor the animal’s injuries, and she has concerns about its welfare. Older photos from late January clearly show the animal’s rostrum has been mutilated by the line.

“Just the injury that is on the rostrum that we saw in January, the line has already cut quite deep. We don’t know the full extent of the injuries,” she said.

“We did see a clump of fishing line on one side of its pectoral fins but I cannot see the other side. “It’s a welfare issue when the line is cutting through the skin because it can go through the bones and cause infection.”

Dolphins become entangled in the Swan River most years but the problem mainly affects calves. But in 2018, when a mother became entangled the consequences were even worse.

“Unfortunately she died from the severity of injuries but also from exhaustion. Because there was also a bag attached to the fishing line to her tail, so she couldn’t actually breathe and move easily. And her calf died a couple of days later.

“It must have been because it didn’t have a mother to look after it.”

The state’s Department of Environment (DBCA) shared an update on the animal’s situation on Wednesday, in an effort to reassure the public it was not being ignored and monitoring was ongoing. Catching the juvenile dolphin in deep water is no easy task, particularly as the calf is being protected by its mother.

DBCA is hopeful sightings will continue and it will eventually be able to catch the animal, but there is a high chance the dolphin may not survive.

“Dolphins are highly intelligent and notoriously difficult to get close to. Despite regular patrols of the Swan River by DBCA staff, the dolphin has not recently been sighted by staff,” it said.

This pelican was discovered with a large fishing lure piercing its skin. Source: WA Wildlife

But in a disturbing sign that littering is widespread, a juvenile has been photographed towing at least three separate lengths since January. The one-year-old has been regularly sighted in Perth’s Swan River. Pictures taken by volunteers who have been monitoring the small mammal

But it’s not only dolphins that are being impacted by fishing equipment. Last month WA Wildlife issued a warning about the impact of fishing hooks.

“We’ve had birds that we’ve released and two weeks later they’ve come back with more fishing hooks. There are some individuals who have come in five times,” its operations director Dean Huxley told Yahoo.

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