Future uncertain for Australia’s own dolphin

Fri 14 May 

Future uncertain for Australia’s own dolphin

The only dolphin unique to Australia is in real danger of becoming extinct due to the ever present threat from fishing nets, boats, and coastal development.  Found only in tropical waters of Australia and growing to a maximum length of about 2.8m, the Snubfin Dolphin was wiped out in Cairns where the Ellis Beach population was obliterated by shark nets.


"These animals are right on the edge. The loss of just two or three dolphins off Townsville in one year, for example, could trigger the extinction of the local population," says Lydia Gibson, tropical marine species manager for the conservation group WWF.


Researchers know there are isolated pods of the dolphins in Australia's tropical waters, and are working to determine how many might be left.  The Federal Department of Environment recently met with marine mammal experts to discuss the latest known information on the species. The Snubfin Dolphin is rarely sighted because it is extremely shy and scared of boats, making it difficult to determine just how many are left.


"The recent likely extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin is a stark reminder of the need to protect inshore dolphins," Ms Gibson says.  "It is vital we lead the way and take decisive action to ensure our only endemic dolphin does not suffer the same fate."


Our aim in continuing to report on environmental concerns relevant to our community is to highlight the responsibility each of us has to the conservation movement. Gone are the days where environmental issues are perceived to be the domain of left-wing hippies. Without a healthy environment, there will be no healthy economy.