The incidental capture of wildlife in fishing gear presents a global conservation challenge. As a baseline to inform assessments of the impact of bycatch on bottlenose dolphins interacting with the Pilbara trawl fishery in Western Australia, scientist conducted an aerial survey to estimate dolphin abundance across the fishery.
New research shows that the offshore dolphin population in the area of the fishery is smaller than previously thought, with some dolphins repeatedly following the trawlers around, day in, day out, feeding on injured or discarded fish – taking big risks for a cheap meal! Previous studies have shown that 20-50 dolphins are caught in this fishery every year and now with a smaller dolphin population than expected, these new findings will hopefully be used to assess the population’s conservation. status.