Dolphins may be barred by design

A PLAN has been hatched to keep dolphins out of Ballina's Prospect Lake - one that Rochelle Ferris hopes will keep the dolphins safe, the fish happy and still let kayakers pass under North Creek Road bridge.

Stakeholders agreed on Friday to trial hanging bars off the North Creek Road bridge into the creek, to deter the dolphins from passing under it.

The meeting came after a dolphin and her calf became trapped in the lake for two weeks at the end of last month.

A costly rescue operation on October 1 finally relocated the pair to the safety of the Richmond River. The rescue attempts drew crowds of onlookers and the attention of national media.

A third dolphin, a male nick-named Socrates, who was originally trapped in the lake with the mother and her calf, was able to escape back into North Creek a few days earlier.

And 18 months before that, one of the same dolphins was trapped in the lake for 10 days.

Ms Ferris, of Ballina-based Australian Seabird Rescue, said dolphins would detect the barrier with their sonar, while kayakers could push through them and fish swim past them.

“We are happy with the outcome and glad the council is working to help prevent dolphins getting back into the lake,” Ms Ferris said.

“It's not good for the animals if they get stuck in there, and it is a strain on our resources when we have to work to get them out of the lake.

“The animals' welfare is the most important thing.”

James Brideson, natural resources extension officer with Ballina Shire Council, said it was a great outcome.

“The bars would be quite mobile, to suit the needs of the dolphins, fish, recreational fishers and kayakers,” Mr Brideson said.

“In the next two weeks we hope to get a design to the NSW Department of Fisheries for them to okay, and then approval from our insurance company so we can install it.”

The meeting was attended by representatives of Australian Seabird Rescue, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Ballina Shire Council, Southern Cross University and the RSPCA.

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