ONE of the dolphins unwilling to leave Cudgen Creek has scars consistent with bottlenose dolphin bites, university researchers have said.

Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre research fellow Dr Liz Hawkins said it was another piece of the puzzle that is the three dolphins that have refused to leave the creek since January 16.

University observations also noted a dramatic difference in the behaviour of the dolphins, one of them a nine-month-old calf.

“There are distinctive signs of them being stressed and annoyed compared to last week. This is especially noticeable when people are around,” Dr Hawkins said.

“Their unwillingness to leave the creek tells us it’s most likely to do with something in the social structure of this group of dolphins.”

A fourth dolphin originally spotted with the pod left during the first week.

Another dolphin entered the creek and spent a day with the three dolphins on Sunday before leaving.

“It’s so unusual for them to stick around like this. They’re not stuck because these other dolphins seem to be finding their way out,” Dr Hawkins said.

“The creek is typically used by them for a resting and feeding ground.”

Dr Hawkins said they are happy with the welfare condition of the dolphins for the time being.

“They appear fine at the moment in that aspect,” she said.

Dr Hawkins recommended anyone swimming around the 50-metre exclusion zone in Cudgen Creek to refrain from splashing and making loud noises.

“It will only worry them more,” she said.

Researchers from the Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre team have also been taking acoustic readings of the dolphins.

An attempt by Sea World, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), NSW Fisheries, NSW Maritime, Australian Seabird Rescue, NSW Police and volunteers to herd the dolphins out of the creek failed last Friday.

Plans were made for an-other attempt yesterday morning but they were called off the night before.

Initial fears by observers were that the trio of dolphins would run out of food by Australia Day.

NPWS Tweed area manager Nathan Oliver previously told the Tweed Daily News the dolphins appeared reluctant to move from the area of deep water.

“It is important that people do not approach the dolphins due to personal safety issues and possible stress to theanimals,” Mr Oliver said.

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