High drama

A DOLPHIN tangled in fishing line is struggling in the Swan and Canning Rivers, and if she dies her calf “Splash” may not survive without her.

The adult female bottlenose dolphin named High Nitch is a long-term resident of the river, having been regularly sighted for at least 18 years.

On the weekend she was spotted with tangled fishing line stretched between her dorsal and rear fins.

• High Nitch tangled in fishing line. Photos courtesy the parks and wildlife department

Officers from the parks and wildlife department made several attempts to help her, but she was scared and swam off. On Tuesday officers reported they’d finally managed to remove some of the fishing line.

Baby dolphins are reliant on their mothers’ milk for at least a year.

They can start eating small fish at a young age, but need their mother’s milk for nutrition and the normal weaning period is between three and six years old.

High Nitch is no stranger to tragedy. In 2002 her baby was discovered dead near Point Walter.

• High Nitch with her calf Splash.

A 2010 Murdoch University report on dolphin deaths states: “The dolphin was observed dead in water with mother pushing and supporting in days previous to retrieval.”

While we were chatting to ferryman Mark Loader about his rescue of a woman from the Swan River (see “Solar Rescue” page 2), he mentioned tackle bins along the river are often overflowing with rubbish like cans, making it hard for fisherman to dispose of their tackle.

High Nitch is still tangled in some line, so if you spot her phone the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.

by DAVID BELL

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