Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Sea World and QPWS staff combine to free dolphin after days trapped in North Stradbroke Island rock pool

Sea World and QPWS staff combine to free dolphin after days trapped in North Stradbroke Island rock pool
December 9, 2020

A 2 metre in-shore bottlenose dolphin has been freed from a small rock pool/lagoon at Flat Rock off Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in a collaborative rescue mission spanning three days and involving three agencies.

10 Sea World staff, including a vet, five Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPES) staff and a Quandamooka ranger worked collaboratively through choppy conditions to free the trapped dolphin yesterday.

Divers first spotted the dolphin on 5th December, but it was assumed it would make its own way out at the next opportunity. However, on 6th December observers returned and saw the dolphin remained trapped in the small lagoon on the northwest side of Flat Rock. The shallow pool is about 30 metres long by 20 metres wide with the deepest point around 2.5 metres.

Weather conditions on 6th and 7th December did not allow vessel crews to access the site. However, the Sea World helicopter flew over the lagoon on those days to assess the site and monitor the dolphin.

On 8th December conditions were favourable enough for a rescue mission. Rescuers reached the site and captured the dolphin using nets. The Sea World vet assessed the dolphin, finding no major injuries and the dolphin to be in reasonably good condition, which meant it was healthy enough for immediate release.

The dolphin was transferred to a stretcher and carried out of the lagoon and released immediately. The rescue mission took about an hour and went according to plan.

Advising that this was one of the trickier rescue operations the team has undertaken, Sea World Head of Marine Sciences, Wayne Phillips explained “we believe the dolphin made its way into the rocky lagoon at high tide chasing food and was unable to get back out to the open water.

“Thanks to the team at Sea World Helicopters, from the air we were able to monitor the dolphin over the period and put together a strategic plan on how, and when the best time would be to attempt a rescue mission,” he said.

“Despite the difficult conditions, which required rescue equipment to be boated into location, this was a fantastic outcome for this dolphin, and our experienced marine mammal and veterinarian team were proud to partner with the QPWS and QYAC rangers on this successful rescue.”

QPWS Ranger Moreton Bay Marine Park Mike Carr said the rescue mission presented challenges due to the location and the size of the lagoon.

Carr added “conditions were challenging because the rock pool was sharp and jagged and the net we were using to herd the dolphin kept snagging.

“Also, the depth of the pool in some places meant it was deep enough for the dolphin to swim under us as we were trying to rescue it. We think the dolphin could not get out because the bubbles and wash from the surf interfered with its eco-location (sonar) and it couldn’t find its way out,” he said.

The Sea World Rescue Team are on call 24 hours every day, 365 days a year should a marine animal need rescuing. Since Sea World’s opening the Rescue Team have attended many hundreds of strandings and entanglements of dolphins, whales, birds and sea snakes, pioneering new rescue techniques and equipment.

Images: Sea World and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service staff combine to release the trapped dolphin yesterday (top) and those involved celbrate after the release (below).

Related Articles

9th December 2020 - BGH Capital confirmed as Village Roadshow’s new owners

8th December 2020 - Village Roadshow reveals new imagery for Sea World’s New Atlantis Precinct

27th November 2020 - Village Roadshow leads Queensland tourism operators in advertising summer positions

20th November 2020 - World Animal Protection billboard removed from Melbourne’s Lonsdale Street

13th November 2020 - World Animal Protection unveils new campaign calling for end to captive dolphin breeding at Gold Coast’s Sea World

13th October 2020 - Takeover offer for Village Roadshow ‘fair and reasonable’

29th August 2020 - Village Roadshow commits to theme ride regeneration despite impact of Coronavirus losses

17th August 2020 - Village Roadshow moves toward acquisition by private equity firm

17th July 2020 - Village Roadshow reopens Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast

23rd December 2019 - Sea World hit with new protests over dolphin care

16th December 2019 - Sea World has ‘nothing to hide’ in its dolphin care

11th September 2019 - Village Roadshow Theme Parks reveal schedule for opening of new Sea World attractions

28th August 2019 - Sea World team releases pair of rehabilitated green turtles

21st May 2019 - Sea World Cruises launch new whale watching vessel

28th April 2019 - Sea World polar bear cub celebrates second birthday 

1st April 2019 - Sea World’s newest multi-million-dollar ski show officially opens

14th February 2019 - Sea World’s oldest dolphin dies aged 55

15th December 2018 - Animal activists disrupt Sea World dolphin and seal shows

3rd November 2018 - Sea World Resort retains status as ‘Best Australian Family Resort’

28th May 2018 - Sea World Whale Watch spots 2018 season’s first whale

27th February 2017 - Sea World Polar Bears highlight conservation cause on International Polar Bear Day

23rd December 2016 - Sea World welcomes Baby Dolphin

19th November 2016 - Movie World and Sea World win IAAPA ‘Brass Ring’ merchandise awards

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


Anti Wave International

Anti Wave International is the original suppliers of top performance swim, aquatic sports, leisure and pool programming equipment. Founded in 1971, Anti Wave International is proud of its…

read more

Aquatics / Play / Sport


State Wide Pool Services

Known as Hydrilla since September 2020 - see

read more



iDwala Pty Ltd

iDwala is the Community Sports Facility Specialist offering the highest quality designs and technical expertise to Councils, Schools and Sporting Clubs looking to create sporting…

read more

Consultants / Design / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces


Tim Batt Water Solutions

Tim Batt Water Solutions are at the very forefront of the commercial aquatic business in Australia, with over 30 years specific experience supplying and installing chemical control and dosing…

read more

Aquatics / Environment / Recreation / Technology / Venues


BH Fitness

BH Fitness, part of the long-standing and iconic bike manufacturer BH Group, is a global leader in fitness equipment for both Commercial and Home markets. The company, with the headquarters based in…

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Sport / Technology / Wellness



As of 2018, TicketServ operates as SeatGeek Asia Pacific Pty Limited, part of international ticketing platform SeatGeek. Click here to contact SeatGeek Asia Pacific via their entry in…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Events / Sport / Ticketing



Track. Engage. Retain GreeneDesk is a suite of cloud based software solutions helping health clubs, leisure centres and swim schools to effectively track progression, improve customer engagement and…

read more

Aquatics / Billing / Education / Fitness / Technology


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business