The Burrunan dolphin (Tursiops australis) is a special species of bottlenose dolphin, found only in the Gippsland Lakes and parts of Port Phillip Bay.
We reported in November that some of the dolphins in the Lakes were getting sick and dying from a skin disease.
DELWP is working with the Marine Mammal Foundation to try and find out why the dolphins are getting this disease again, as it has happened before, notably in 2007 after major bushfires.
Dr Kate Robb, Director of the Marine Mammal Foundation said: “We monitor the dolphins in the Lakes regularly and most recently we recorded about 80 per cent of them with skin lesions. Six dolphins have died and we’ve seen others in very poor condition.
“We don’t know why this is happening, but it could be linked to heavy rainfall after the bushfires washing sediments into the lakes system,” Dr Robb said.
“This is a distressing situation and we’re concerned about the welfare of affected dolphins. We’re looking at options to minimise the impacts of this disease on the animals.
“We will continue to monitor the dolphins, take samples for pathology and investigate the cause, but we need help from the public so we can see how many dolphins are showing symptoms, how many more are dying and do as much testing as possible.
“If you are on or around the Gippsland Lakes and you see a dead dolphin, or one that looks sick and has ulcer-like lesions on its skin, please report it immediately to the Whale and Dolphin Emergency Hotline 1300 136 017, with the location, date, time and number of animals.
“Don’t go too close or touch the animal, whether it’s, alive or dead as you could compromise our sampling and subsequent testing,” Dr Robb said.
“Please remember to follow the Wildlife (Marine Mammal) Regulation and stay at least 100 metres away from dolphins if you’re in a powered or unpowered vessel, and at least 300 metres if you’re on a jet ski.”
DELWP and EPA will continue to monitor the water quality of the Gippsland Lakes regularly for algae species and levels, temperature, salinity and turbidity.
Ways to help us
If you’re in the Gippsland Lakes region, please considered joining our Lakes Champions program and our regular citizen science “Burrunan Watch”.
To offer your support and assist our researcher further investigate this disease please head to our donate page to make a tax-deductible donation.