Western Australia Minister for Environment Donna Faragher
Dolphin Watchers Celebrate Anniversary
Victor P Taffa
Dolphin watchers from around the Swan and Canning rivers celebrated the inaugural Dolphin Watch Day.
Environment Minister Donna Faragher said the day marked the one-year anniversary of the State Government’s River Guardians Dolphin Watch project.
Mrs. Faragher said the annual event, to be hosted every May by the Swan River Trust, acknowledged the tremendous contribution of volunteers involved in river dolphin monitoring.
The culmination of the day was the announcement of Madeline Kirkham, of Victoria Park, as the outstanding dolphin watcher of 2010.
Mrs. Faragher said new research based on the observations of Dolphin Watch volunteers had found that at least seven Swan River dolphins including mothers and calves travelled as far upstream as Caversham in the Swan Valley.
“In such a short time, Dolphin Watch volunteers have made a tremendous contribution to our knowledge of these much-loved animals.” the Minister said.
“The information they provide is helping scientists to better understand the behaviour of the dolphins, in areas where little or no scientific information has previously been collected.”
Mrs. Faragher said the death of six dolphins in the Swan River in 2009 had highlighted the fragility of our resident dolphin community and the extent of community concern for the dolphins and the health of river.
In her report on the dolphin deaths, Chief Scientist Professor Lyn Beazley recommended an expansion of the Dolphin Watch program in which she said “had a key role to play.”
The Minister said the Liberal-National Government had committed to a $50,000 expansion of the program in 2010-11 to allow more volunteers to be trained to identify individual dolphins and report their behavior.
Funding would also be provided to create a photographic record of the river dolphins and for further research into the marine mammals.
The program began in 2009 and 104 volunteers have completed the Dolphin Watch training.