Operation Comet

Fri, 27 Jan 2023

By Tangalooma Island Resort

Sea World's Marine Mammal team rescue entangled dolphin at Tangalooma: Operation Comet

The Tangalooma wild dolphin feeding program has been delighting staff & guests alike for more than 30 years, with a pod of wild dolphins coming in to feed each night as the sun sets over the bay. The Dolphin Care Team, consisting of Eco Rangers and dedicated staff, run the program which operates to strict guidelines to ensure the protection of the dolphins.

So, on the 14th of January, when one of the dolphins arrived for the nightly feed entangled in fishing line, the Tangalooma Eco Rangers were quick to spring into action. They immediately called on Sea World’s Marine Mammal team, and an intricate rescue plan was devised. The Sea World Foundation Rescue Team arrived swiftly the following night and, alongside Tangalooma’s dolphin care team, carried out the suspenseful rescue operation on the injured Comet.

Comet is one of the youngest dolphins to visit our shores & is usually an extremely boisterous male, so it was heart-breaking for the team to see him come in entangled in fishing line. Without this swift intervention, the outlook for him would not have been overly positive, highlighting the importance of the Tangalooma wild dolphin feeding program to the welfare of these animals.

Guests waiting on the jetty and shore got front row seats to the rescue and watched on as the rescue team performed this life-saving rescue and carefully removed the fishing line that was entangled around his fluke. Dr Clare Madden, Sea World’s Head Veterinarian, lead the operation and said the early intervention was critical to Comet’s recovery.

“We successfully removed all of the entanglement from Comet’s fluke and thankfully there was only superficial damage to his fluke which we expect to fully heal,” she said.

Once the delicate operation was complete, Comet was returned to the water and demonstrated his boisterous warrior attitude by swimming off strongly – but not before hanging around a while longer for a few more fishy treats though!

While the rescue was a success, the need for intervention highlights the growing issue of human impacts on precious wildlife.

“Sadly, there are many marine animals who succumb to these types of injuries, and this would have been the outcome for Comet without our help,” said Dr Madden.

We are happy to report that Comet continues to return for the nightly feeding program alongside his pod.

Watch Comet’s incredible rescue unfold below.

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Tangalooma Island Resort

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