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 All images Copyright © S. Kirby 1997
Copyright details are listed at the end of page 2

Dolphin Strandings
in low tide

Badly sunburnt dolphin
Severe burns from the sun from being stranded during low tide.

This dolphin was lucky to survive and must have freed
itself when high tide returned hours or days later.
We can look out for such dolphins in danger and reduce their suffering
A successful rescue is reported below

Scarred dolphin from sunburns
white scar tissue forms where skin had been badly sunburnt

Low tides particularly in summer can be very dangerous and even fatal to dolphins.

In Mandurah there have been numerous strandings,and humans have successfully rescued many dolphins from the risk of severe sunburn or possible death on a number of occasions.
In October 1990 for example a large pod of dolphins were rescued after becoming trapped in Lake Goegrup. This lake is a particularly hazardous area for dolphins who swim in during high tide after fish, but find they cant or wont swim over the sand bar at the entrance once the tide drops. Many other areas of the estuary/river system are also as dangerous to dolphins in low tide.
A further stranding occurred near Soldiers Cove and is explained in our local dolphin stories.
In some cases however,as the above two pictures show the dolphins may not be sighted by humans and so can only wait until the tides return, many hours or days later, while the hot summer sun bakes down on their skin without mercy.
At the end of page 2 we will advise what you can do if you see a possible stranding.

  The stranding of 6 Mandurah dolphins
on 13.3.97

Calm officers and rangers  help a stranded dolphin
Trained rescue officers from CALM and local rangers assist a
stranded dolphin.This rescue was an example of how early
reporting can save dolphin lives.

A pod of six dolphins were sighted in the shallow waters of Lake Goegrup on the Monday drawn there by the plentiful feed. CALM began monitoring the situation on Tuesday along with concerned nearby residents to see if they would leave on their own accord before the water level dropped. The dolphins were still there by Thursday. The situation had now worsened with an extremely low tide that day, warm water temperature & the summer sun beating down , and it was clear the dolphins needed to be rescued. The dolphins enter the lake on high tide and come and go, but can become trapped if the water level drops so they cannot/will not swim over the sandbar back to the Serpentine river. A team of CALM wildlife officers, Shire rangers, West Whale members and volunteers took 5 hrs to complete the rescue of the three male dolphins and three females, two of these being mother and daughter.

  Carefully lifted by sling
  Moved carefully by sling

The dolphins were carefully moved by sling, onto foam lined padded boats and taken to a safe holding area near the banks where they were examined, measured, and freezebranded. They were then transported by road on foam lined padded trailers to their eventual release area. They were released back into their usual home range, the estuary's safer deeper waters with access to the ocean

Two dolphins in a sling
Kept calm and together

.A dolphin is taken to safer waters on a boat
Taking a dolphin away from shallow waters by boat

Another dolphin is rescued
Another dolphin calmly lies in the boat under cover from the sun

The dolphins were found to have suffered cuts and some degree of sunburn but swam off strongly together when released.

To Page Two for further pictures, volunteer's story, good news about the dolphins and most importantly what we can do to help