Ripple – the dolphin mother whose baby was killed in a suspected boat strike early last year – has lost her latest newborn calf.
Dolphin expert Mike Bossley and photographer Sharon Sharp found Ripple pushing around the baby’s body at Pelican Point in the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary on Monday afternoon.
Rangers were called and managed to retrieve the body, which will now undergo an autopsy to determine a cause of death.
“Seeing a mum push a dead baby around is always an extremely sad sight,” Dr Bossley said. “In recent years there seems to have been an abnormally high death rate.”
It is believed Ripple gave birth to the baby over the weekend. It is the third she has lost after Holly last year and Marea, who died in 2015.
Three out of the four calves born in the Port River this breeding season have now been found dead, devastating dolphin-watchers.
An autopsy showed Holly died from blunt trauma likely to have been caused by a boat.
“The fact (is) this is the third baby now that we know of that she’s lost – she must just be beside herself,” said dolphin-watcher Jenni Wyrsta.
Ripple’s unexpected pregnancy – which unusually came less than a year after losing Holly – was seen as a beacon of hope for the Port River pod.
“We were all hoping that this was going to be wonderful for her but now it’s ended in disaster,” Ms Wyrsta said.
She called on Transport Minister Stephan Knoll to act quickly and release his plan to lower speed limits in the sanctuary.
Late last year in the wake of mounting pressure from Messenger Community News’ Protect Our Dolphins campaign, Mr Knoll released his draft proposal to drop the speed limit to 7 knots in sections of the sanctuary but keep unlimited speed limits outside the Adelaide Speedboat Club and in parts of Barker Inlet and the North Arm.
He has yet to release his final plan.
“That has to be the most important thing that we can do to help these dolphins,” Ms Wyrsta said.