08 April 2013

Entangled nature

Sometimes we succeed disentangling animals found trapped in ghost fishing gear, or with pieces of longline protruding from their beaks and mouths. With sea turtles it is often possible to act and quickly release the animal. With dolphins, it is way more difficult.

This bottlenose dolphin was seen in the Northern Evoikos Gulf in 2011, dragging a 3m-long rope that was wrapped around his caudal peduncle. The animal even came to bowride, but one could tell that he was swimming with some difficulty.

Silvia and I tried hard to catch the rope with our boat hook, but that proved impossible. The sea soon became wavy, frustrating our efforts to release the animal. We soon lost sight of the whole group, and that individual was never seen again.

Close-up photos showed that rope friction had started to cut through the tissues. In the long run, such process may result in amputation of the fluke, or death of the animal because of the difficulty of swimming and foraging.

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