Saturday, October 08, 2005

Tagged dolphin with a traveller's heart

Remember those two globe-trotting dolphin that traveled more than 1,000 miles each after they were tagged under the South Carolina Tagging Study?

Now a third dolphin that was tagged offshore Islamorada in the Florida Keys has joined that small group of mega-mile travelers.

Donald Hammond, spearheading the program for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said this latest dolphin traveled 1,046 miles.

It was tagged June 28 by a fishing party on the boat Killin' Time owned by Don Gates of Chuluota.
Just 45 days later, an angler fishing in the Baltimore Canyon area offshore Ocean City, Md., recovered the tagged dolphin.

In all likelihood, Hammond said, the dolphin traveled much more than the 1,046 miles between the tagging and recapture points.

"It does not begin to reveal the total distance the fish traveled when you consider the lateral and vertical movements made during feeding or body-temperature regulation," Hammond said.
In the four years since the study began, 112 tagged dolphin have been recovered out of thousands tagged.

Hammond said six of the tagged fish recovered this year had moved more than 700 miles from their release sites, compared to just seven in the previous three years.

One dolphin this year moved 708 miles from Islamorada to Morehead City, N.C., in just 21 days.
This study, by one biologist who has recruited the involvement of dozens of taggers, has generated some startling data. Unfortunately, the study's tagging segment ended Saturday because Hammond is retiring from the state. He hopes to continue this valuable research on a private basis.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"