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Rare dolphins found dead in Australia's north

03 june 2011, 15:01
Animal activists expressed outrage Friday at the discovery of two dead snub fin dolphins tied to mangroves and weighted with a concrete slab, saying every death took the rare species nearer to extinction, AFP reports.

The dolphins were found in wetlands in Australia's world-famous Great Barrier Reef region last week by a recreational fisherman. Police said they suspected they were caught in a net cast by illegal fishing crews.

"The killing and concealing of these two dolphins is totally reprehensible and completely out of line with what the community expects," the World Wildlife Fund's Richard Leck told national radio.

Authorities are seeking leads on the animals, which they suspect could have been accidentally caught in nets but then dumped among the mangroves to hide the killings, which fishing boat operators are required to report.

Only discovered in 2005, the snub fin species is now on the brink of extinction, with just 1,000 left in the wild according to Leck.

Another WWF officer Lydia Gibson said the creatures lived in small, isolated communities and "in some cases if you lose just one individual... that could spell the local extinction of that population."

Activists want the dolphin, a rare in-shore species about which very little is known, listed as nationally threatened.

Illegal trawling brings a maximum Aus$330,000 (US$352,261) fine or two years in prison.

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