The deaths of Burrunan dolphins investigated

THE Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is working with partner agencies to determine the cause of the recent deaths of several of the Gippsland Lakes Burrunan dolphins (Tursiops australis), which are listed as endangered under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

DELWP wildlife emergencies principal officer Rodney Vile said the cause of death was unknown.

“We’re looking at water conditions and, where feasible will collect data and samples from dolphins,” he said.

“We know that a number of dolphins have been showing compromised health or have died over the past few months and we’re keen to work together to find out why and what can be done.

“Heavy rainfall following the bushfires is likely to have caused extra sediments and nutrients to run off the ground and wash into the lakes system.

“We do not yet know if this is a contributing factor, but we’re investigating further,” Mr Vile said.

“DELWP is partnering with the Marine Mammal Foundation to monitor and assess the numbers and health of the Burrunan Dolphins, with increased survey effort over summer.”

People are being urged to watch out for and report dead, injured or stranded dolphins in and around the Gippsland Lakes on the Whale and Dolphin Emergency Hotline, 1300 136 017, with the location, date, time and number of animals.

“Please remember to follow the Wildlife (Marine Mammal) Regulation and stay at least 100 metres away from dolphins if you’re in a powered or unpowered vessel, and at least 300 metres if you’re on a jet ski,” Mr Vile said.

“Do not approach or otherwise interfere with any dolphins, alive, dead, injured or stranded.

“DELWP and EPA will continue to monitor the water quality of the Gippsland Lakes regularly for algae species and levels, temperature, salinity and turbidity.”