Confirmed Morbillivirus found in dead dolphins

Confirmed Morbillivirus found in dead dolphins raises concerns that hundreds more animals may be affected within South Australia in coming months.

The first confirmed report of dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) in South Australia!

The first confirmed report of dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) in South Australia!

Independent investigations into recent dolphin deaths performed by AMWRRO and The University of Adelaide’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences have identified concurrent dolphin morbillivirus and systemic fungal infection as the cause of death in two juvenile dolphins found deceased along the South Australian coast. Results of these findings have been provided to the recent task force appointed by the State Government to assist in investigation of the cause of other dolphin mortalities.

These two dolphins were recovered from the Adelaide metro coast by AMWRRO and postmortems conducted by veterinary pathologists at The University of Adelaide’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at Roseworthy.  Virological testing was performed by CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong

This is the first report of dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) in South Australia!

Morbilliviruses have emerged as potent pathogens of pinnipeds and cetaceans, with four morbilliviruses known to infect various speciesof marine mammals: Phocine distemper virus (PDV), porpoise morbillivirus (PMV), dolphin morbillivirus (DMV), and pilot whale morbillivirus. DMV has been previous implicated in death and morbidity of juvenile dolphins in Queensland, northern NSW and Western Australia. Outside of Australia, morbillivirus have also been implicated in major die-offs among marine mammals.

Holly’s Farwell

Rescued from deaths door! Holly, the Loggerhead turtle that was found beach washed in the States Lower South East, suffering from hypothermia, dehydration, emaciation and a gastrointestinal blockage after eating plastic has finally started her journey home.

After several months of rehabilitation; today Holly was loaded into her transport box and joined the mile-high club on a flight back to Queensland.  Holly will be taken to SeaWorld for a few days before being released off shore with other marine turtles that have undergone similar rehabilitation treatments by the dedicated team of vets and rehabilitation staff at SeaWorld.

Dedicated AMWRRO Volunteers see Holly off. From left to right Wenonah, Adel (holding Holly) and Amber

Dedicated AMWRRO Volunteers see Holly off. From left to right Wenonah, Adel (holding Holly) and Amber

Special thanks to Caroline Western (the fantastic vet who initially stabilized the animal down south before transporting it to AMWRRO), the entire AMWRRO crew for dedicating so much time and effort into her rehabilitation, David and Jenna C/o SeaWorld for assisting in her release back to the wild.


Gill net fishing keeps on killing in Coorong Lakes

Unattended gill net fishing is still being allowed and is licensed within extremely sensitive wetland environments of which tens of thousands of Australian’s have been fighting to save and help preserve for years.

Three Great Cormorants Entangled in the gill net. Photos thanks to Mike and Sarah

The Coorong and its associated lakes are home to tens of thousands of sea and shore birds, some native to Australia and other International visitors, all of which require protection and have a right to live a safe and non-human influenced life.The Coorong, Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert and associated wetland environments are of upmost importance for the vast majority of Australians’ and cover a mammoth 140,000 plus hectares.  These environments are of International importance so much so they are listed as a Ramsar Convention Wetland and have been since 1985.

Despite thousands of South Australians’ fighting for these lakes and wetlands to receive much needed inflows to maintain a healthy and sustainable ecosystem; our government departments responsible for issue licenses and setting rules and regulations within these areas in order to minimize the impact of fishing; still allow professional fishing activities to continue and of which have huge impacts on seabird and marine mammal species due to extremely relaxed rules, regulations and policing.

This fishery somehow managed to be crowned one of the very few “sustainable and eco-friendly” fisheries in Australia by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and holds this accreditation for being noninvasive fishery to the environment.

Great Cormorants leg entangled. Photos thanks to Mike and Sarah

However, AMWRRO has for many years been informed by many concerned boat users, kayakers and recreational fishers of the poor fishing practices that effect other wildlife that rely of these water to survive.

Last weekend AMWRRO was notified by two young people kayaking in the Coorong lakes that at least six Great Cormorants were found entangled in a single gill net that was set and left unattended.  One of the birds had already perished and the remaining were still very much alive and in need of immediate assistance.

Despite being bitten several times these two young people worked for over an hour to free the birds and did so successfully. Advice was provided over the phone and a request for photographic evidence was also accommodated due to the difficultly surrounding visual evidence concerning poor commercial fishing practice.

One must ask: how this fishery was ever accredited by the MSC of which is an international fishery accreditation body for safe and eco-friendly fishing practice and furthermore, what must the said fishery do in order to be accredited with such an award and how does one police this accreditation once issued (if at all).

After reading through the MSC website, according to the “guidelines” associated with such an accreditation – this fishery is clearly in need of restructure and a close look at current fishing practices. It is our view that this accreditation should not be awarded to any such fishery that leaving unattended set nets and furthermore the MSC should consider ongoing independent policing of the said accredited fisheries that they accredit.

Dead Cormorants found in Gill Net. Photos thanks to Mike and Sarah

In AMWRRO’s view the overall accreditation should not be issued to any one fishery for more than 12 months and or, after any change of management within that said fishery, as oppose to the 5 year accreditation that currently stands.

In this instance the accreditation by the MSC has clearly failed to provide the general public and industries alike with peace of mind that “we the people” are purchasing a eco-friendly product and as a consequence should be removed immediately and not reinstated until such time as more “eco-friendly” practice are adopted and policed by an independent body within the said fisheries.