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Sperm Whale Post Mortem

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Veterinarian Dr. Duan March and Wildlife Officer Kieran Marshall assisted government agencies to conduct a post mortem of an adult male sperm whale, which was found dead on the beach at south Ballina. This large male was 16.9m long and over 52 tonnes in weight.

No plastic was found in the stomach of the sperm whale, nor was there any sign of predation from sharks. The animal appeared to be in good body conditon, so whatever caused it to become unwell was likely an acute process. Samples were taken to test for toxicology and hopefully we provide more information on the death of this whale.

Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales and largest toothed predator and it is rare for these pelagic mammals to strand.

They get their name from its spermaceti (sperm oil), was a prime target of the whaling industry that was sought after for use in oil lamps, lubricants, and candles.

If you see any marine mammals in distress call your local National Parks office.

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Swan caught in rough surf

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Recently DMR got a phone call from the a member of the public in regards to a swan getting washed around in the waves by heavy surf at Gallows beach. DMR team members with help from a local resident Paul, rescued the swan from the surf and was returned back to DMR for some much needed TLC and hydration. With a few days of rest and a vet check completed, the swan was transferred to WIRES Coffs Harbour to their pre release aviary and was finally released back to the wild. 

If you see any sea birds in distress call DMR, National Parks or WIRES. 


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Dolphin Marine Rescue works very closely with TAFE NSW, giving students real-life work experience in the animal care industry. We proudly welcome our newest student recruits all of whom are studding Certificate III in Captive Animals.

Students will gain experience working alongside our specialist marine animal team to provide the best possible welfare for all our animals. There studies will include cleaning and maintaining animal housing, monitoring and participating in animal health care, providing nutritional diets, assessing animal behaviours and reports, learning the skills to rescue and apply first aid to marine animals as part of the rescue and rehab and lots lots more!

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Researching sea turtles at Mon Repos

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DMR team member Kieran Marshall was recently up at Mon Repos assisting researchers and QLD Parks in sea turtle conservation and sea turtle health.

Mon Repos supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and has the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific region.

With this knowledge gained, Kieran will use it to help monitor the increasing numbers of sea turtles nesting within NSW.

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DMR helps turtles recover from float syndrome

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Since December 2019 DMR has received 32 sea turtles into care, most of these sea turtles are sub adult green sea turtles and hawksbill sea turtles aged around 10-15years old.

These turtles come into care with an issues called 'float syndrome' where a gas build up inside of their coelomic cavity causes them to float on the surface of the water limiting their ability to dive and forage for food, causing them to become emaciated and develop large quantities of epibiota (barnacles and algae).

Generally the total time these sea turtles spend in rehabilitation here at DMR is about 3-4months and then they're released back to the location where they were found.

If you see any injured sea turtles in distress phone DMR or NPWS.

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Vet students learn vital skills!

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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!


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DMR fight to save grey nurse shark

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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.

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DMRART Releases Giant Petrel

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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.

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Dolphins trapped at Brooms Head

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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.

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EcoGroms Walk-a-thon

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Join the EcoGroms for a Walk-a-thon!

Join our walk-a-thon to pick up rubbish and raise money for a Seabin to help local sea life.

  • Boambee Bay to Jetty Foreshores
  • Sunday 27 July from 10am
  • Sign up and get sponsors for your walk
  • Bring a rubbish bag to pick up rubbish
  • Entry Fee - $5
  • Feel free to bring your dog along

If you don’t want to walk you can volunteer to run a water-stop or pick up full rubbish bags in your car.

Please click here to register or check out our information sheet for more information.


What is a Seabin, and why do we want one anyway?

  • A seabin is a type of bin that is on the side of a marina and as it floats it collects rubbish from the area. When the rubbish goes into the bin and is collected while the water flows through and gets pumped back into the ocean.
  • We need this bin so that the ocean wildlife can be protected from rubbish such as straws, plastic bags, coffee cups and much,much more. If not stopped many more animals will die.
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