Dolphin Experts to Investigate Deaths

04 April 2013

South Australian Museum researchers will conduct a post-mortem examination on a dolphin at our Bolivar site on Friday this week – one of 16 dolphins found dead on regional and metropolitan beaches during March.

It will be the fourth necropsy conducted by the Museum team as part of an investigation into the deaths.

Senior Researcher in Mammals Dr Cath Kemper and Honorary Researcher Ikuko Tomo are part of a team assigned to gather information on the deceased dolphins for a statewide taskforce. Results should be available over the coming weeks.

Dr Kemper said while the cause of the deaths is unclear, the sheer number is unusual.

"We first heard of a couple of dolphins around Middleton, then four on Kangaroo Island, and then they started to show up along the metropolitan coast in Adelaide."

Dr Kemper said in her many years at the Museum, she could not remember a similar incident.

"In 1998 there were quite a few dolphins shot and one stabbed I think. That was about five or six within a month."

The South Australian Fisheries Minister Gail Gago announced that teams from different government agencies and the Museum would share information to investigate the deaths of dolphins, penguins and some fish.

"This started with small leatherjackets at Port Neill on the Eyre Peninsula followed with other small fish species along the metropolitan coast line the following week," she said.

"All the testing to date is pointing to a natural phenomenon. The Environmental Protection Agency has advised me that its reviews of ongoing testing have categorically ruled out any link to the desalination plant."

The South Australian Museum's experts are part of the Dolphin Trauma Group, which carries out vital research and provides information to all tiers of Government and the public about our marine wildlife.

Our trusted researchers will gather essential data during this investigation, which will be used to try to determine the cause of the deaths.