Baby dolphin rescued from lake
IT was hoped the squeals of a young baby would yesterday help reunite him with his mum.
The dolphin calf, estimated to be less than two weeks old, was being held in the water with a seven-year-old female, while his mum swam at the western end of Prospect Lake, East Ballina.
The three dolphins had been trapped in the lake since last Sunday, and there were serious concerns for their wellbeing as the lake recorded a salinity level of five parts per thousand, 10ppt less than the minimum they can tolerate.
Fifty people from Sea World, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Australian Seabird Rescue and the RSPCA - including divers, volunteers and two vets - worked for more than five hours from 8am to rescue the animals.
Mum escaped the first attempt when she swam under the net laid across the lake, while the other two were captured.
The calf was kept in the water so his mum could hear his cries - he was separated from his mum for about 40 minutes.
Boats had to be used to herd mum to her young one, but she tried to escape again - this time unsuccessfully.
After being freed from the net, she was held by five rescuers and her calf was brought to her.
The three animals were then stretchered into a NPWS Marine Mammal Rescue trailer and transported with police escort to the Richmond River Sailing Club where they were released into the river.
Sea World's director of marine science, Trevor Long, said it was 'frustrating' the trio had to be put through the trauma of the rescue.
President of Australian Seabird Rescue, Marny Bonner, said she was disappointed that Ballina Shire Council hadn't yet installed a gate from the Angels Beach Drive bridge at the entrance to the lake, after agreeing to it in October last year.
Mr Long said the dolphins were in good health, and mum had plenty of milk for her calf.