SAD SIGHT: Humpback dolphin washed up on Dundowran beach.
SAD SIGHT: Humpback dolphin washed up on Dundowran beach.

Rare dolphin washes up on Dundowran Beach

THE carcass of a dolphin was discovered on Dundowran Beach on the weekend.

Spotted near the Petersen Rd beach entrance on Sunday, resident Daisy Murray reported the sighting to Wildlife Rescue Fraser Coast, who passed on details to the relevant authorities and marine conservation groups.

Hervey Bay marine biologist Yvonne Miles said photos posted by Jennifer Wheldon of the dolphin, taken by her sons Jacob and Lachlan, were added to data and used to positively identify the creature as being an Australian humpback dolphin.

"The species, which is listed as vulnerable, which is one step before being classed as endangered, makes this dolphin's death even sadder," Ms Miles told the Chronicle.

"Much can be learnt from deceased marine mammals, therefore reporting such sightings asap is important so vital data and information can be collected."

The Australian humpback dolphin (Sousa sahulensis) was described as separate species in 2014.

"Australian humpback dolphins lack the hump present in other species of Sousa as you can observe in the photo and their dorsal fin is low and triangular, very different to a bottlenose dolphin, which is much larger and falcate," Ms Miles explained.

"Australian humpback dolphins are found in coastal waters of northern Australia and are commonly thought to be 'inshore' species because they are found in shallow near-shore waters, often at the mouths of estuaries and in tidal channels, which is exactly what we have in Hervey Bay.

"They often chase prey in shallow water and at times have been observed stranding to feed, this is where they beach themselves deliberately to catch fish, which could have been the case with this individual as it looks a healthy specimen."

Sousa sahulensis are normally found in smaller groups of two to four individuals but have been seen in larger groups in the Bay and it has been observed that they have a "fission-fusion" society.

The primary contact number for marine mammal and animal strandings whether alive or dead is the RSPCA 1300-ANIMAL number 1300 264 625.

"We have learned much from this event regarding a quick response from appropriate rescue organisations," Ms Miles said.

"Please remember that out of standard business hours government offices or council might not be able or available to respond.

"If you see a stranded or deceased marine animal, please take clear pictures of all sides of the animal as reference so that the species can be identified, and data collected.

"If you find a dead or stranded marine mammal, sea turtle or sea snake, or land mammal, bird or reptile please contact WRFC on 41213146 and whether the animal is alive or deceased, WRFC will contact the correct authority if required.

"Please also remember WRFC are 100 per cent volunteers and may be attending to another call or rescue, so please be patient and continue phoning if you don't get through the first time."

In the case of marine mammal strandings or dead marine mammals, you can also contact local marine conservationists Peter Lynch 4124 9600 or Yvonne Miles 0431 824 063.