8 Apr 2015

Bycaught dolphin

This morning we received a call from a fisherman from Piran, who informed us of a dead dolphin found entangled in his bottom-set net. After examining the animal we realised it was a young female that we knew well. She was about 3 years old and therefore still a calf. We last saw her and her mother in March. During last night she got entangled in a fishing net and consequently drowned. However, this was not her first encounter with fishing gear – in 2014 she already got entangled in a similar net, a case which we reported last month at the conference of the European Cetacean Society (see this link). During that event she managed to escape, but a part of the net got entangled around her fins and therefore got stuck on her body. Even though people often think of rescue operations, it is usually impossible to do anything in such cases, while potential intervention attempts may only make things worse. We therefore regularly observed the calf and her mother, and monitored its condition. Despite the remains of the net and the external injuries it has caused, the calf appeared in good body condition and behaved normally. Unfortunately however, she now got entangled again in yet another fishing net, but did not manage to escape this time. We will have more information after the post mortem examination. Dolphins get entangled in fishing gear for a number of reasons. Sometimes they take fish caught in nets, at other times they may simply swim into a net by accident. In case of young dolphins (including those still consuming only milk) the entanglement can often be the result of play and curiosity. Even though such events are sad and unpleasant, we are nevertheless grateful for the cooperation of the fishermen who called us. It is important to learn from such cases, if they occur. Each new case may provide important information, which may (hopefully) improve the long-term conservation of dolphins and potentially help prevent similar cases in the future.

Photo: Morigenos

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