Western Australia’s world-renowned Monkey Mia dolphins have a new addition - a dolphin calf born in the World Heritage-listed Shark Bay area on Tuesday.
Environment Minister David Templeman said the dolphin calf was born to Piccolo, the first of the Monkey Mia dolphins to be introduced to the strictly-controlled feeding group since management changes in 1994.
“The new calf is Piccolo’s second since her introduction to the feeding group and is a fourth generation dolphin in the feeding program,” Mr Templeman said.
“Both Piccolo’s mother and grandmother participated in the program and her mother Puck continues to frequent Monkey Mia beach.
“Both mother and calf are doing well, with the newborn measuring approximately 50cm long.”
The Minister said it was vital that people visiting Monkey Mia were aware of the newborn and stayed well away from the mother and calf when they came into shore.
“The Department of Environment and Conservation has implemented a program to minimise any human or vessel interaction with the calf to ensure it has the greatest chance of survival,” he said.
“As such, DEC has urged visitors to the beach to remain at the water’s edge when the mother and calf are inshore to prevent the calf from beaching itself.
“In the first few weeks of life, the calf is tuned into the mother’s movements and will follow any rapid movement in the water. If people are in the water near the calf and they move, the calf could follow and inadvertently beach itself.”
Mr Templeman said every measure was being taken to give the calf the greatest chance of survival, as there was a high mortality rate for dolphins born in the wild.
Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) calves generally are born 12 months after mating. Newborns suckle for up to four years, although at Monkey Mia there have been reports of calves continuing to suckle for up to six years.
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