Our dolphins here in Mandurah have each been named and are identified by their unique dorsal fin characteristics, such as the shape and notches. There are several ways they can get these notches in their fins – from playing and fighting with each other, from fishing line entanglements and from dolphin shark attacks.
Many dolphins in coastal areas and in the Dawesville Cut have scars showing they have had interactions with sharks – and this also shows the dolphin’s ability to escape from a predator’s attack. The bite scars are mainly on the dorsal surface of the dolphins. When under attack, they will try to spin around in order to get bitten on their back rather than on the underside where their vital organs sit. Protecting themselves using this strategy gives them a better chance of surviving the attack.
It can be quite shocking to see a dolphin with fresh wounds. It is hard not to wonder if the dolphin will survive. However, incredibly, dolphins can recover from extreme injuries such as shark bites.
It is believed they are able to restrict blood flow in the body and to the wound after an injury, which prevents the dolphin from bleeding to death. The blubber is believed to contain antibacterial properties that are released when an injury occurs, and this helps to keep the wounds clean and prevent infection. The wounds heal in a way that the body shape is restored – a form of regeneration.
Having the ability to heal themselves is just another example of the incredible abilities dolphins have, or shall we call it, another dolphin superpower!
Here are just a few of our Mandurah dolphins who have had a lucky escape – you can see how well the wounds have healed. These dolphins are often seen in the Dawesville Cut and the ocean, along with other dolphins who have also had their own close encounters with sharks. (Warning: Graphic images displaying wounds/injuries may distress some people)
In 2016, Joy was seen with severe wounds from a shark attack. Her calf, Huubster was unharmed.
Elly turned up with wounds from a shark attack in June 2017. After the attack, Elly spent a lot of time in the protected waters of the Dawesville Cut and the nearby canals.
In September 2017, Elliot turned up with severe injuries from a shark attack. He spent the next few weeks in the Dawesville Cut, resting and recovering. It didn’t take long for him to recover and he was seen feeding and playing with other dolphins and returned back to the ocean.
If you ever see a dolphin stranded or in distress, please contact the Wildcare helpline on 08 9474 9055.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions and we’ll have our expert dolphin team answer them. To book a dolphin tour with us, click below.