Dusky dolphin dies in farm net
A dusky dolphin has drowned after being caught in a salmon farm predator net at New Zealand King Salmon's Waihinau farm in Pelorus Sound.
The 1.75 metre dolphin was identified by Conservation Department staff on June 14.
A report sent to the Marlborough Express says King Salmon told DOC after company divers removed the dolphin, thought to have died about three days earlier.
An autopsy report from the Massey University Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biological Sciences said the male dolphin probably died after being entangled in the net then strangled. There were two cross-shaped net marks on its head and numerous rake marks over its body.
DOC marine technical adviser, Andrew Baxter of Nelson, said the department had records of six dolphin deaths in salmon farm nets since 1999.
All but the latest were mentioned in the King Salmon application to the Environmental Protection Authority for consent to develop nine new marine farms in the Marlborough Sounds.
The dolphin which died last month was probably caught in a pocket in the net which formed when it was lifted for maintenance, he said. The dolphin could have swum down and out but probably panicked and died within minutes.
King Salmon learned from each death and changed management accordingly, Mr Baxter said.
In 2011, a dusky and a bottlenose dolphin died at the Crail Bay farm King Salmon had bought from a company which used lighter predator nets, he said. The nets had since been removed and the farm, in Pelorus Sound, was not operating, he said.
In 2005, a Hector's dolphin was caught between two nets at the Ruakaka farm in Queen Charlotte Sound. Farm design had since changed so nets covered entire farms, said Mr Baxter.
Two dusky dolphins were caught in predator nets at Ruakaka in 1999.
- The Marlborough Express