962. Hon ALISON XAMON to the Minister for Environment:
I refer to the article in the Western Suburbs Weekly dated 22 August, titled “Deadly dolphin virus”.
(1) Can the minister advise the house what research has been undertaken to investigate the cause of the five dolphin deaths reported to date?
(2) Does the minister believe this poses a further threat to the existing population of the Swan River dolphins?
Hon STEPHEN DAWSON replied:
I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.
(1) The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions has a formal partnership with Murdoch University for ongoing necropsy and pathology investigations. Dolphin necropsies were undertaken in association with a PhD research project that is examining dolphin health. Necropsies were undertaken on the five dolphins, which included testing for morbillivirus.
(2) The Swan Canning Riverpark is currently home to 19 resident dolphins plus six calves. These dolphins are a subpopulation of a larger metapopulation of Indo–Pacific bottlenose dolphins that frequent the coastal and estuarine waters near Perth. The size of the riverpark dolphin subpopulation has been relatively stable over the last 10 years, after recovering from the 2009 mortality event. Seven of the eight adult females in the population were present when morbillivirus occurred in 2009 and therefore may have some level of immunity to the disease.