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Dolphins not affected by Port upgrades

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Almost 250 healthy dolphins are living in stable populations in Townsville.

Snubfin and humpback dolphins were monitored prior to the Port of Townsville's Channel Upgrade, which begun in March

The study reveals populations have been stable for decades and Port-related activities don not appear to be deterring dolphin activity.

Project leader Flinders University Associate Professor Guido J Parra says a pre-construction ‘baseline’ survey was undertaken last year, providing important baseline data on the distribution, abundance and preferred habitats of snubfin and humpback dolphins under pre-construction conditions.

"Boat surveys in 2019 estimated the total number of snubfin dolphins using Cleveland Bay at 54 individuals and at 89 individuals for Halifax Bay. The total population size of humpback dolphins was estimated at 30 individuals for Cleveland Bay and at 71 individuals for Halifax Bay,’’ he said.

Port of Townsville General Manager Infrastructure and Environment Marissa Wise said the monitoring work, which would help to ensure the long-term conservation of the dolphins, was an important element of the Channel Upgrade Project.

"The Port is investing $17 million on environmental monitoring and management solely associated with the Channel Upgrade Project to ensure minimal impacts on the mega-fauna, corals, bird-life and seagrasses in Cleveland Bay and the surrounding area,’’ she said.