Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary’s rubbish problem spurs volunteers into action

Posted April 10, 2019 12:32:58

A volunteer-driven clean-up operation, coupled with reduced boating speed limits, are part of a concerted effort to preserve Adelaide’s resident dolphin population.

Nearly a tonne of rubbish, including takeaway food containers and dumped tyres, was pulled from Adelaide’s Dolphin Sanctuary (ADS) late last year.

Caroline Armstrong from Sea Shepherd Australia said volunteers, many of them surfers, pulled 715 kilograms of rubbish from the Port River in just four hours one day last November.

They returned a month later to collect a further 257 kilograms

“It was horrific, and that was only with 100 volunteers,” she told ABC Radio Adelaide’s Breakfast program.

“I think the problem here is there are so many areas that people can just dump stuff, so a lot of that weight came from pieces of cars or tyres or ridiculous things you would never expect to find.

“People would ditch suitcases full of things and just leave them.”

About 100 kilograms of the haul was attributed to soft and hard plastics.

Sea Shepherd is inviting members of the public to another clean-up day on Sunday.

It comes as the State Government prepares to expand a seven-knot speed limit to boats across key areas of the ADS from April 29.

Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said in March that it had followed a consultation process with “relevant stakeholders to improve safety for our dolphins and get the best outcome for the port”.

It followed approval by the Environment Protection Authority in January for Flinders Ports to dredge the Port River and widen the shipping channel.

Work is expected to begin in June.

Calf population decimated

The 118-square-kilometre ADS in Adelaide’s north-west has about 50 resident dolphins — visited by transient dolphins each year — but over the past two years the calf population has been decimated.

Only two of 13 calves born to ADS dolphins have survived, with many dying after being hit by boats.

Ms Armstrong said litter was also deadly to marine creatures.

“People forget that plastic degrades into tiny bits and creatures eat it without thinking,” she said.

“It’s poisonous and actually contains a lot of toxins.

“There’s not only a very real danger to their digestive systems, if they’re blocked with bits of plastic they can’t digest, particularly birds, they think they’re full and in fact they are full of plastic so they starve to death.”

Sunday’s clean-up day will be coordinated from the Garden Island boat ramp between 9:00am and 11:30am.

It will include volunteer divers from Adelaide Scuba who’ll look to remove marine debris that hasn’t become a part of the system with animals living inside.

Topics: conservation, environment, animals, animal-welfare, endangered-and-protected-species, marine-parks, marine-biology, human-interest, port-adelaide-5015, gillman-5013, st-kilda-5110, sa, adelaide-5000

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