Friday, March 30, 2007

Baby dolphin rescued from fresh water river

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- After two full days of cruising along the St. Johns River near downtown, a team from the Florida Fish & Wildlife and marine biologists successfully captured an injured baby dolphin."It's believed he may have been born here six months ago between the Fuller Warren and Acosta bridges," said Karen Parker, Spokesperson for the State F&W."For whatever reason, it appears his mother has abandoned him. We don't know if she was injured by boaters, or sharks or spooked by the recent underwater demolition, (of the old Fuller Warren Bridge) but she has left the little guy on his own."

The baby dolphin appears to be of normal weight, about 60-pounds and it is just over 4-feet in length, but there are visible signs of trauma to it's dorsal fin and to its tail."We don't know if he was bitten by sharks or struck by a boat prop," said Parker."There are also large circular skin lesions that concern us."The lesions, say experts, are because the dolphin's normal habitat is salt water in the ocean. The fresh water of the St. Johns is causing the lesions."Either way, it's important that we capture him, get him into the Marina Mammal Ambulance where the experts can check him over," said Parker.While the four boats were unsuccessful in capturing the dolphin on Monday, they came close on Tuesday just after 2 p.m..

"We had him in the net, but again, because the river is so deep running through here, he was able to slip out under the net before we could get him in the boat." Then, at around three thirty Tuesday afternoon about a mile south of the Fuller Warren, biologists successfully netted the injured mammal.He was brought to the dock of the St. Joe Building at 245 Riverside Avenue, where blood was drawn and other tests were performed.Dozens of office workers lined the dock and others watched from their office windows above.

The rescue team eventually loaded the dolphin onto a blue stretcher, and carried him from the dock to a waiting Marine Mammal Ambulance.There marine biologists continued to care for the dolphin before heading to the Panhandle for what will likely be weeks of rehabilitation.While the damage to the dolphin's trail and dorsal fin are significant, it is hoped he will one day be able to be returned to the ocean off the First Coast.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"