No. 239     NOVEMBER 1997
"understanding, enjoying & caring for our oceans"

President's Report

This is the final Newsletter for1997 and I would like to take this early opportunity to wish all readers a very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

1997 has been very eventful and I would like to thank everyone for their attendance at meetings and for the support you have given to the Society in general.

We hope the main article in this Newsletter on "How To Help At A Whale Or Dolphin Stranding" by Mike Bosley, will be of assistance to all who take the time to read it.

The 1997 Journal will be sent out to members in early December and we hope you find it to be an interesting publication.

Philip Hall

1997 Christmas Party
Sunday 7th December

The Party this year will be a family day, and will take the format of a Dive or Snorkel followed by a Barbecue. The venue will be Victor Harbor with the alternative sites of Morgan's Beach or Rapid Bay, depending on weather conditions.

The Barbecue will be a BYO everything affair. We will try to use existing Barbecue facilities if they are available but a few portable devices on which to cook food will not go amiss if we can't go to Victor. If fire restrictions apply then we will have to have a picnic instead.

Phone Sharon Drabsch, Phill McPeake or myself, the day before, for final meeting place details.

November General Meeting

This will be held at our usual meeting place, the Conservation Centre, 120 Wakefield Street on Wednesday 19th November, starting at 8pm sharp.

At the August General Meeting there was a strong wish expressed for us to obtain a speaker on Artificial Reefs. We have succeeded, and the contributor of an article in our September Newsletter, David McGlennon, has agreed to give us a talk on his work on studying reefs. He is willing to answer questions on Artificial Reefs at the end of his talk.

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible so that we can formulate our policy on this important issue.

University of the Third Age

On Tuesday 30th September Margaret and I gave a talk on behalf of the Society to the University of the Third Age at Glenelg. It was well attended and the talk, a general overview of some of the fish and other invertebrates to be found off our local coastlines, was very well received. In fact I now have a booking for a further talk at Daw Park Repatriation Hospital early next year. I used a selection of the slides from the Photo Index to illustrate the main points of my address. Margaret was a very capable projectionist and prompt. The audience showed great interest in our Society and several of our publicity fliers were taken.

The University of the Third Age is a self-help education movement for those who have passed through the Ages of Childhood and Working Life. It is associated with Flinders University. Courses are free to members and are for enjoyment only, with no examinations or certificates being awarded. It relies on volunteer tutors covering any area in which members show an interest. The University of the Third Age may be contacted on 8201 3068.

Philip Hall



If there are only a few small animals involved and the conditions are favorable it may be possible for you to return them to the water yourself.

If this is the case you should first communicate with the National Parks & Wildlife Service to clear this with them. It is important to record a minimum of information first such as number of animals; size; species; and condition. Make special notes about the nature of teeth or baleen. If possible take photographs of both the overall situation and of each individual animal (latter from the side). After the animals have been returned successfully to the water monitor the situation for as long as possible (at least several hours) to ensure they do not restrand.

If a juvenile is beached attempt to determine if its mother is nearby (this may require the use of a boat or even an aircraft if available). If there is no sign of the mother it may be best to return the animal to the water and hold it there for as long as possible in the hope that the mother will return. If possible seek expert advice before releasing a juvenile.

If the situation precludes you from taking immediate action you should record the following information and advise your nearest Police Station as soon as possible.

Location and physical situation of the stranding; the number of animals involved and how they are distributed; the age composition; the size and appearance of the animals (and species if known); the number on the beach and the number still in the water; the condition of the animals; estimate of time stranded; the state of the tide; and, if possible, identity of the first animal to strand.

While you are waiting for help to arrive it is important to initiate immediate first aid to the stranded animals:

Stay calm and attempt to calm the animals by talking quietly to them. Keep them as cool as possible by covering them with sheets or towels and by pouring water over them Be careful to keep the pectoral fins and tail wet and to keep water out of the blowhole. If possible place them in an upright position. It is important to keep water and sand out of the blowhole and to ensure neither sand nor clothing covers the eyes. If possible dig a trench around the animal and keep it filled with cool water.




Ensure you take plenty of warm clothing; Water proof jacket; wet suit (if you have one); appropriate footwear; tent and sleeping bag; hat, blockout & sunglasses; food and drink; torch; toilet requirements.

If you have any spare sheets, shovels or buckets it is important to take them with you if possible.




If at all possible this should be done at the site of stranding, normally at higher tides. If the weather or other circumstances make it impossible to return them where they stranded consider moving them to the nearest appropriate site. When handling stranded whales beware of the tail as it can cause serious injuries to people if the whale starts thrashing around.

The sequence of returning animals to the water is important. Attempt to identify the first animal to strand and return that animal first. It is important to keep mothers and calves as close together as possible at all times. Keep refloated animals together until all are ready to be released.

If Rescue Pontoons are available and tidal condition permit they can be used to refloat stranded animals.

In brief, the use of Rescue Pontoons involves the following steps:

*Slide the mat under the animal via the rolling technique, keeping the leading edge of the mat just forward

the pectoral fins. Be careful not to cover the eyes.

*Attach the mat to DEFLATED pontoons as low down as possible. Ensure the mat is attached evenly by

noting the clip shape.

*Ensure valve is in the open position (ie out) and half inflate one pontoon with a scuba tank; fully inflate the other and then return to inflate the first one. Care must be taken not to over inflate pontoons.

*Push the pontoon to deeper water.

*Partly deflate the pontoons to remove the animal from the apparatus.

*Maintain control of the animal to proceed with equilibrium restoration (see below).

If Rescue Pontoons are not available or cannot be used the animals may be returned to the water by one of the following techniques:

*Small animals may be carried by hand. However, even small dolphins are best carried by at least four people, with two at the head end and two towards the tail.

*Place the animal on a stretcher or tarpaulin and with the appropriate number of people carry it to the water.

*Place the animal on a sledge, clear away any rocks and drag it to the water.



Whales and dolphins which have been stranded for some time loose their ability to swim properly. If this is not treated the animals will invariably restrand or can even drown. Equilibrium can be restored by moving the whale to waist deep water and gently rocking the animal from side to side. The duration of rocking required depends on the amount of time it has been on the beach but will generally be a minimum of thirty minutes. Before releasing the whale completely attempt to check that its equilibrium has been restored. If not, continue the process of rocking.

Once the animals have been released maintain observation as long as possible to ensure they do not restrand.


The preceding information was supplied to us by Mike Bosley.

We hope it will be of assistance to Members, and other readers, should they ever need it.

Reef Impacts

A recent survey impacts of people visiting Aldinga and Port Noarlunga Reef suggests we may be loving some of our reefs to death. The survey, conducted by Samantha Williams at Adelaide University surveyed visitors through 240 questionnaires, and over 1000 unobtrusive observations.

The study also involved looking at reef animals and plants in different areas, recording over 30,000 individual animals and plants, from about 50 species of animals and plants.

Both Port Noarlunga and Aldinga reefs are areas of very high recreational use. People were causing damage through collecting and trampling marine life. This is despite new intertidal reef protection regulations prohibiting collection.

Most people using Aldinga Reef were locals or people who visited only once in a while. The main attraction for them was the reef, with over 80% walking on the reef itself.

The richness of animal and plant life attached to the reef appears to be higher outside of the heavily visited Aldinga and Port Noarlunga Reefs, and as might be expected, areas that are harder to get to had greater species diversity.

The study suggests that there is a need to review how our rocky reefs and surrounding areas are managed to reduce the effects of reef trampling and illegal collection. Some of the suggested measures include possible restrictions on visitor numbers, recreational activities and fishing closures or bans.

Tony Flaherty


I was informed by a reliable source last week of a new aquaculture venture that will be starting up at Tickera, which is just north of Wallaroo.

This aquaculture venture will be dealing with two varieties of highly merchandisable items. First of all the breeding of seahorses and secondly of fish for the Asian pet market.

The used water in the breeding tanks will go through a process to eliminate the salt from the water. This water will then be sent through to a hydroponics system to where lettuces will be grown. Apparently there is a mineral that is then taken out by the lettuce. The water will then be pumped through to an olive plantation.

If this venture takes off it will certainly be a money spinner for the investors. I should say that the seahorses alone will bring in big money on the Asian market.

For those who are not familiar with the Tickera region, it is a tidal area with an abundant supply of seagrasses and with a constant supply of nutrients.

Ron Bellchambers

Marine Discovery Centre Opening
Star of the Sea School

Margaret and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend the official opening of the Marine Discovery Centre at the Star of the Sea School on a very stormy 31st of October.

We met up with many old friends and made some new ones. Tony Isaacson was there and he gave me a copy of a submission he had made for a grant in 1998, which I promised to bring up in Committee for a decision whether to support it. Michelle Hawthorn, the Acting Principal from the Port Vincent Primary School, was introduced to us. She has given me a lot of help with my article for this years Journal.

Because of the poor weather the opening ceremony had to be moved indoors at short notice. We first listened to the school orchestra and then saw a drama performance by students. This was followed by speeches and finally the opening ceremony by Damien Moroney, with a final blessing by the local Priest.

Following the Champagne, tea and sandwiches we made a dash across the road to the Discovery Centre itself. It is in an old house which has been beautifully re-furbished. There were several displays with much work by the students also available for viewing. A demonstration model of longshore drift was operating.

We then came to the marine fish, invertebrate and touch tanks. The touch tank is encased in an excellent pine case and has several removable lids for convenient access. The two large tanks are placed alongside each other on pine stands and are backlit by a window. They are independently cooled and also have powered external canister filters. At present there are only a few fish and invertebrates as they have only just been set up.

Peter Hoskins again extended an invitation to MLSSA to hold a General Meeting at the centre now that it is up and running. We will certainly take up this kind offer during 1998 as it will allow us all to see the progress being made.

On behalf of MLSSA I wish them every success and will follow their progress with interest.

Philip Hall

Edithburgh - October Long Weekend

Dave Brooksby took some of our photographs and other posters to display at the Edithburgh street Fete on Sunday 5th October. The morning was quite busy and Ron Bellchambers and family reported at our October General Meeting that they also visited the Southern Dive bus during the day. We are planning a more spectacular display for next year. This one was set up at very short notice.

Last Month's Meeting

We had another reasonable turnout of members at our October General Meeting. Disappointingly though, there were no visitors this time. Major topics discussed included progress with the Reefwatch project and plans to make our webpage an educational site. We had lots of giveaways for members. Everyone had the chance to receive a copy of a Government document called "Protecting Gulf St Vincent - A statement on its health and future". Our Society was listed on the last page of it. Sharon tabled many pamphlets from Fisheries and some Leafy Seadragon stickers. David handed out another batch of native plants to members. We were five minutes late starting the meeting but the discussions took only 32 minutes (a record?). We had a coffee break whilst our guest speaker prepared to address us all.

Mark Staniforth from the Archaeology Department of Flinders University was our guest speaker. His subject was marine archaelogy and shipwrecks. Mark told us of his work around Australia over the years. We heard about the wrecks of the Batavia, Sydney Cove and William Salthouse. We also heard about Maritime Archaeology courses being held at Flinders Uni. It was a very interesting talk by Mark and created a great deal of interest. Thanks Mark for being our guest speaker.

Steve Reynolds


In mid September this year, my wife and I went for a drive down to Port Rickaby. We then went for a walk along the beach. To our astonishment we came across hundreds of dead cuttlefish washed up on the beach with many more still in the surfline.

My first thought was that these creatures had been caught on the top of the reef on the outgoing tide. The factor against this theory was that there were no juvenile cuttlefish to be seen. No other marine creatures were to be seen washed up with the cuttlefish.

It was not until I read in the MLSSA Newsletter of other events on the Western side of Spencer Gulf that I made a connection.

I would also mention that there has been no evidence of an oil spill near Port Rickaby.

Ron Bellchambers

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