Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - AMANDA ROBBEMOND

SEA World is pre­par­ing for a spike in in­jured ma­rine life as the school hol­i­days be­gin on the Gold Coast.

Ma­rine sci­ences di­rec­tor Trevor Long said the com­bi­na­tion of warmer weather and Septem­ber school hol­i­days led to an in­flux of an­i­mals caught in fish­ing line or hit by boats.

“We see seabirds on al­most a daily, weekly ba­sis, usu­ally with fish­ing line en­tan­gle­ments,” Dr Long said.

“We know it will ramp up in Septem­ber, es­pe­cially with the good weather.”

Dr Long said about 80 tur­tles in­jured by boat strikes, crab pots and fish­ing gear were treated by Sea World each year.

Jet-skis and boats skim­ming over shal­low seabeds af­fected fish, tur­tles and even dugongs, of which there was a res­i­dent pop­u­la­tion of four to six in the area, he said.

Liz Hawkins, found­ing di­rec­tor of Dol­phins Re­search Aus­tralia, said she saw a dol­phin struck in the Broad­wa­ter re­cently.

“That part of the group around the Broad­wa­ter have a lot of scar­ring from fish­ing line en­tan­gle­ments and boat strikes,” she said. “The ma­jor­ity are with off­spring ... they have to work through a busy, nar­row chan­nel.”

Dr Hawkins said there ap­peared to be a lot more dol­phin in­juries through­out More­ton Bay and the Broad­wa­ter than other ar­eas she had worked in.

She said dol­phins in these ar­eas had be­come ha­bit­u­ated to the pres­ence of peo­ple and looked for food sources close by which led to in­juries.

Boat­ies are legally re­quired to keep a dis­tance of at least 50m from dol­phins and 100m from whales.

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