Whilst on a morning Whale and Dolphin Watching cruise with Port Elizabeth based AB Marine on Tuesday 14 April 2019, Marine Biologist Eirik Grønningsæter, photographed two Bottlenose Dolphins in great distress.
The Boat Based Whale and Dolphin Operator had been cruising along the Port Elizabeth beachfront and had just viewed a large pod of Bottlenose off of Summerstand’s Pollok Beach. The literally hundreds of dolphins ranging up and down that stretch of coast kept guests enthralled as the youngsters came closer and adults jumped for the joy of living.
A little bit further out to sea towards Cape Recife a smaller pod of dolphins were ranging in circles around one particular spot.
It would only be later that evening that Eirik would discover why this small pod was acting in a strange manner and not moving on to join the larger pod near Bird Rock……
Back at the Guest House biologist Eirik Grønningsæter downloaded the hundreds of photographs from the day and zoomed in to a few to see a very disturbing sight.
At least two of the Bottlenose Dolphins in the pod that had been acting strangely and swimming in circles had been entangled in fishing lines and were badly injured.
The assumption is that these two dolphins had become entangled in the fishing line and that the line in turn had become entangled in the reef below where the dolphins had been swimming when spotted.
The panicked dolphins must then have cut into their dorsal fins in successful attempts to free themselves from the reef.
In the images one can see how fishing line has cut into a large part of one dolphin’s dorsal and how almost 60% of one others dorsal fin has been cut away – surely a massive fatal injury.
Erik, is a Biologist and part of the film crew documenting the state of the Sardine Run with Expert-Tours and the Ocean Geographic Society, was visibly shocked to see the state of injuries to these Bottlenose Dolphins.
An AB Marine spokeperson said; “If we in Port Elizabeth want to promote our marine tourism in a responsible and sustainable way then we all need to work together by collecting and reducing the use of plastic, fishermen need to collect used fishing lines, the proposed fish farm needs to be stopped or at the very least the owners made responsible for any injured marine animals.”
“AB Marine will present talks to interested parties, businesses and clubs to make stakeholders aware of the level of care need for our marine environment whilst facilitating functional solutions to preserve the beauty and marine diversity of Algoa Bay,” concluded the statement.