Western Rangers in Western Australia are searching for a bottlenose dolphin that is believed to have been intentionally wrapped in a t-shirt. The dolphin was spotted by a member of the public during the morning of Australian Day in Koombana Bay in the city of Bunbury, south of Perth.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife says that the shirt could be dangerous to the bottlenose dolphin because it may cover its blowhole. However, photographs suggest that the shirt is not covering its blowhole.
“On Australia Day morning, we received a report from the Dolphin Discovery Centre that a member of the public had seen a dolphin wrapped in a singlet in Koombana Bay, Bunbury. It is unlikely that the dolphin swam into the singlet, so this appears to be an intentional act,” The Department of Parks and Wildlife said in a statement, BBC reports.
“This could have been catastrophic for the dolphin if it had covered its blow hole and restricted its breathing. Unfortunately, the animal has not been seen since. If anyone has information about the incident, or has seen the dolphin and can report its location, please contact the Parks and Wildlife Bunbury office on 9725 4300, or after hours call the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055,” the department added in a statement.
Still, Pia Courtis of the Department of Parks and Wildlife says that the situation is a matter of serious concern. The law in Australia prohibit people from interfering with dolphins or whales without permission and the maximum penalty under the Wildlife Conservation Act is around A$4000 (or £2400, $3000), the BBC reports.
“We think that somebody has put it on there,” Courtis told the Radio 6PR’s Breakfast program. “Dolphins are very playful creatures but it would be hard for it to swim into one [a singlet]. Fortunately, the singlet seems to have gone past its blowhole. It could have been catastrophic if it had ended up covering the blowhole.”