Sunday, April 15, 2007

Deaf dolphin's calf growing and possibly hearing already, in utero

Officials at a Florida Keys marine mammal rehabilitation facility initiated a dolphin “chat line” of sorts today.

The officials are hoping a pregnant deaf dolphin's calf will learn to communicate with other dolphins after it is born.

Castaway, as the stranded Atlantic bottlenose dolphin is named, has been convalescing at the Marine Mammal Conservancy since January 30th.

After a battery of tests, National Marine Fisheries Service confirmed marine mammal experts' diagnosis that the dolphin is deaf and cannot be released back into the wild.

Now, experts are electronically connecting Castaway's habitat with a lagoon at Dolphins Plus, a research and interactive educational facility a few miles down the Keys Overseas Highway.

Underwater speakers and microphones were installed at both locations and connected via phone lines donated by ATT Florida.

Dolphins need to hear in order to utilize dolphin sonar.

Even though the calf is unborn, officials believe it can already hear.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"