The Korea Herald

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Dolphin calf entangled in net worries authorities

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : Jan. 18, 2024 - 17:50

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(Dolphin research team at Jeju National University) (Dolphin research team at Jeju National University)

Authorities are deliberating about how to help a young, struggling dolphin whose tail has been entangled in a discarded fishing net for months.

The calf, presumed to be under one year of age, was first spotted swimming with its tail entangled in the net in November last year by researchers from Jeju National University.

It was seen again last week, still with its tail in the net, in waters off Seogwipo City.

Professor Kim Byung-yeop who leads Jeju National University’s dolphin research team reported that the dolphin’s movement has become ostensibly more sluggish compared to when he first spotted it. The net now seems to have become entangled in the calf's mouth area as well, causing unnatural movements, he said.

According to the team, the net, which appears to be between 1.5 and 2 meters in length, is hampering the dolphin’s swimming as the dolphin drags it along. Experts have pointed out the risk of the net digging into the flesh of the tail.

An official from Jeju Island said that they are cautiously reviewing various rescue strategies for the dolphin in collaboration with the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. “We are contemplating various approaches as artificial rescue efforts could harm or endanger the dolphin,” the official said.

The Jeju government is considering methods to cut off the net by gradually building intimacy with the dolphin without directly capturing it. It is looking to prepare and implement the rescue operation by March, as the dolphin's survival could get more difficult as time passes.