Saturday, December 03, 2005

Young dolphin rescued in shallow water

TWO fishermen at Stuarts Point rescued a young dolphin on Tuesday after it became stuck on a sand bar during low tide.

Grahame Bruton and Doug Fabian had just emerged from their camp at Stuarts Point Holiday Park when they noticed something thrashing about in the river opposite their camp.

Mr Bruton said at first they thought it was an adult dolphin signalling to other dolphins its position in the river.

"It was about 6.30am and the tide was about three quarters," he said.

"We had just made a cup of tea when we saw the thrashing about 50m north of the bridge.

"It was a baby dolphin about four feet (1.2m) long and it was stranded about three to four metres from deeper water.

"When we got up there it was making a little noise like a whistle, like a baby pigeon.

"Doug got under it and we just pulled it into deeper water and then it just took off. And just as we were pushing it into the water it gave a little squeak of thank you."

Mr Bruton said he and his wife Kathy had been visiting Stuarts Point for over 30 years.
"This is the first time I have seen a dolphin out of the water," he said.

"And we see them come up the river every day."

Mr Bruton said he and a group of friends had visited the park in February this year and noticed how shallow the river had become at low tide.

"And now it's shallower again. It's getting hard to know where to steer the boat," he said.

"I have noticed that the silting up of the river has become quicker over the last 10 or 12 years.

"It's not bad enough to stop us from coming but if it silted right up you would not come."

The section of the Macleay River fronting the Holiday Park is known as The Arm and once led to the river's original ocean entrance at Grassy Head.

The river has been filling up with sand, raising concerns about boating and future tourism.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"