11 veterinary students from University of Sydney attended DMR last week as part of their extramural placements to gain some experience in aquatic animal medicine.
“There are not many places where students can get hands on experience with marine animals, so these placements are really important to build the capacity within the profession to treat sick and injured marine animals,” said Dr Duan March, who acted as the students supervisor for the week. “The placements actually work out really well. We will stockpile work that needs to be done for a number of research projects before the students arrive and get it all done when they are here. This means that they get to learn and it helps us out with our research!” said Dr March.
Veterinary students are required to do a range of placements during their degrees and students will get practical experience with all animals from cows to chickens, and for a lucky few, dolphins as well!
Dolphin Marine Rescue were called by Stephen Soule from the National Marine Science Centre at about 11 am on Sunday regarding a Grey Nurse Shark not looking well in the marina. DMR attended and assessed the animal. It was upside down and not moving. DMR contacted Department of Primary Industries to notify and then proceeded to capture and to assess.
DMR staff and Mr Soule snorkelled to the animal, placed a tail rope and then swam it to a pier for assessment. Fishing line coming from mouth and two external wounds were observed. The animal suspected to be suffering from metabolic acidosis secondary to intense fight following line catch.
The animal was transported back to DMCP for treatment which included intravenous fluids and aerated water passing over the gills, fishing hook removed and wounds sutured. Animal appeared to improve temporarily but died over night. Post mortem revealed the animal was in good condition and had been feeding recently. Samples collected and sent away for analysis will confirm cause of death.
DMRART has recently release a Southern Giant Petrel back into the wild following a rehabilitation stint at Dolphin Marine Rescue. The Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus) is the largest petrel species and is found throughout the Southern Ocean. The population is estimated to have declined by around 20% in the last 50 years, with a population estimate today of around 60,000 birds.
The Giant Southern Petrel appears uncoordinated on land and has a distinctive smell, which has led it being described as a“ungainly brown albatross” and a “stinkpot”! However don’t let the ungainly appearance fool you, the Giant Southern Petrel can be a ferocious predator, and will prey on other sea birds including penguins. The petrel is one of a group of sea birds know as tube-nose birds, due to the single large nostril tube on top of its bill which is connected to a slat gland that allows them to removed excessive amounts of salt from sea water.
The Dolphin Marine Rescue team, National Parks and Wildlife Service and ORRCA responded to a mother and calf dolphin that had become trapped in a rock pool at Brooms Head. It is suspected that the young mother took the animal into the rock pool to either avoid predators or whilst chasing fish. Once in the rock pool, it appears that the large seas made if difficult for the calf to find its way out.
The animals were trapped there for three days, during which time they would have had very little sleep or food. Physically catching the animals in the large seas would have been dangerous, for both the animals and rescuers. Thankfully, it was a happy ending, with the animals escaping on the high tide that afternoon.
Join our walk-a-thon to pick up rubbish and raise money for a Seabin to help local sea life.
If you don’t want to walk you can volunteer to run a water-stop or pick up full rubbish bags in your car.
In May we got a call from an Armidale resident who had found a bird that they suspected to be a marine species, they kindly drove down to Coffs Harbour to our rehabilitation hospital for assessment and care. When our staff member Greg assessed the bird it turned out to be a Tropic bird most likely from a colony off Lord Howe island. How this bird found itself in Armidale we are unsure but it could have been due to heavy winds or storm. The Tropic bird was a juvenile so did not have its long tail yet but was believed to be a red tailed tropic bird.
It stayed with Dolphin Marine Rescue (DMR) for a week, during its time in care it was offered water and spark which aids in re-hydration and some tasty fish. Before the bird was released an assessment was conducted which included a body examination and flight test, it was given the all clear from our veterinary team and DMR staff and was successfully released. Thank you to those members of public for caring for this bird and taking the time to bring it into Dolphin Marine Rescues care.
This year our Shearwater season started in mid-April and went through to the first week of May. We worked together with NSW National Parks and Wildlife and Wires to return any fledglings that got lost to Mutton Bird Island. Mutton Bird Island is where these shearwaters start their migration journey. Some of these fledglings may have just got lost, others were just a bit too weak to carry out the journey.
When the fledglings first come in to Dolphin Marine Rescue (DMR) they go through a triage process which entails weighing and checking body condition. After this assessment, the bird is offered a solution of water and spark, which is an electrolyte solution that helps with re-hydration. Some were given a quiet place to rest and re-hydrate overnight others where just given the day before being released this was all dependent on the initial triage assessment. Any birds that were under 300g we marked so that we could see if any of the same birds were coming back into care or found deceased. We found that majority of the birds coming into care were under 300g. A fledgling over 300g has a better chance of survival, which has been assessed by other rehab facilities. Next year changes that DMR will introduce is marking birds over 300g with a different colour to the birds under 300g.
Dolphin Marine Rescue worked together with Wires and NSW National Parks and Wildlife to perform necropsies on all birds that were found deceased on Mutton Bird Island or the Coffs Harbour region. The main aim of these necropsies were to determine if any plastic had been ingested by the fledglings. Once Shearwater season had ended our Ecogroms came in to aid in the necropsy process. This was a fantastic learning opportunity for our Ecogroms, they got to aid in wildlife conservation, learn about bird anatomy and the digestion process. A large focus was also had on how rubbish, plastic and marine debris can have a devastating impact on wildlife.
Join us for the release of three green sea turtles, 9 am at Woolgoolga Main beach Sunday the 26th of May. This will be the last turtle release before winter and we are keen to get these animals back out into the ocean before the water gets too cold!
Dolphin Marine Rescue will be running a BBQ for breakfast from 8:30 am and the EcoGroms will be selling some eco-friendly products such as bees wax wraps to raise funds to purchase a SeaBin for the Coffs Harbour Marina!For the chance to be the lucky person to actually release one of the turtles, come into to Dolphin Marine Conservation Park and pick up a “Trash Bag”.
The person who collects the most marine debris, and sends a selfie of their good deed in action to firstname.lastname@example.org for us to post on Instagram will win the right to walk one of these critters back into the ocean! We hope to see as many people at the release site as possible.
Please check back to our news section regularly for ongoing updates on animal releases, rescues and more.
See you there!
On Saturday the 16th March, four green sea turtles were released from Arrawarra Headland. But, for once, the the most “feel-good” aspect to story was not the animals, but the people releasing them.
The Abdo sisters; Zaree, Khishkok, Zozik, Kurdistan and Sabeeha, are Yazidi women from Kurdistan in Iraq, who came to Australia as refugess in 2017 due to the ongoing threat of ISIS in their region. Nearly 7000 Yazidi women were enslaved by ISIS. The children were taken and forced to fight for ISIS, whilst the men were slaughtered, leading the United Nations to declare the massacres of the Yazidi population as an act of genocide. As a minority group, their numbers are small and the constant assaults they have suffered may well impact on the ongoing sustainability of the population and there are still many Yazidi members unaccounted for. The Abdo sisters come from a family of 12, the majority of which are still in Iraq, with one sister in Germany and they have no other family members in Australia.
The Coffs Harbour region has been working hard to offer refugees such as the Abdo sisters a safe and friendly alternative from their previous traumas and as all but one of the sisters are deaf, they are enjoying learing Auslan (sign language) and have communicated that their favourite thing about Australia is that people smile and talk to you on the street, which did not happen in Iraq. They like the beach though they haven't learnt to swim yet and getting into the water was a big step for them, given that a community member recently drowned in Woolgoolga.
Giving the sisters a helping hand on the weekend were the staff from Dolphin Marine Conservation Park and the newly minted “EcoGroms”, who are a group of primary school aged children with an interest in the environment. On the agenda for the EcoGroms is everything from waste management within schools; education programs about our rock pools; and helping out Dolphin Marine Rescue with the rehabilitation and release of sea turtles. Saturday morning saw the merging of ages and cultures, with both the Yazidi women and the EcoGroms communicating to each other with the international sign for “thank you” following the turtles release.