Wild dolphin baby born at popular WA beach

By AAP with AG staff 2 November 2011
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Baby Piper is the fourth generation wild bottlenose dolphin to be born at Monkey Mia in Western Australia.

A NEWBORN DOLPHIN dolphin named Piper has become the fourth generation of bottlenose dolphin to join the pod at Western Australia’s popular beach resort of Monkey Mia.

Piper was born to Piccolo, a member of the dolphin group, which also includes Piccolo’s mother and grandmother, that regularly visits the Monkey Mia beach, near Ningaloo Reef, in Western Australia.

The wild dolphins often interact with visitors at Monkey Mia, the internationally renowned tourist resort about 800 kilometres north of Perth in the World Heritage-listed Shark Bay area.

In the 2010-11 season, the WA Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) recorded more than 80,000 visits.

Environment Minister Bill Marmion said it was important that mother and calf are carefully protected in the first weeks of Piper’s life.

“This new calf is particularly small and great care will need to be taken to ensure the greatest chance of survival of the newborn,” he said.

Dolphin calf must be protected

To protect the welfare of Piccolo and her calf, DEC staff have asked that people remain at the water’s edge when the dolphins are nearby to prevent the calf from beaching.

“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,” the minister said. “If people were in the water and they moved suddenly while the calf was close by it could follow them and inadvertently beach itself.”

Measures were being taken to give the calf the best chance of survival because there was a high mortality rate for dolphins born in the wild, the minister said.