Dolphin Discovery Centre announces death of three dolphins in Bunbury

RIP: Shanty and her daughter, Banjo. Picture: supplied
RIP: Shanty and her daughter, Banjo. Picture: supplied

THE Bunbury community is mourning the sudden passing of local dolphins Shanty, Chocolate and baby Reef.

In a media release on March 28 the Dolphin Discovery Centre confirmed the three deaths were not connected.

As the centre's most recognisable dolphin with her curved dorsal fin, Shanty played a lead role in helping to educate the community about dolphins and the marine environment in which they live.

At 45 years old, Shanty, the 'matriarch dolphin' of Koombana Bay, leaves behind her one-year-old calf Banjo who will continue to be monitored.

Following her death, Shanty was taken to Murdoch University for necropsy, but as there was no obvious injury or cause of death evident, the Dolphin Centre suspects she passed from old age.

Chocolate was a male dolphin thought to be between 25-30 years old and was a character well known to many residents and visitors.

He was a shallow water specialist often seen using aquaplaning and tail whacking techniques to capture food.

He was a "lone ranger" and was not locked into a male alliance, like most males, preferring to roam freely doing his own thing, according to the centre.

He was also a known "puffer fish addict" often seen mouthing puffer fish which is thought to give a 'high' from the toxins.

Although the centre also confirmed the death of Wave's calf, Reef it was "generally accepted" that up to 40 per cent of calves do not survive past the weaning age of four years.

The Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre will hold a tribute event for Shanty, Chocolate and Reef at 3pm on Friday, April 8.

Volunteers as well as the wider community are invited to say their farewells.