Sunday, April 22, 2007

Two Hurricane Katrina dolphins survivors gave birth

After being rescued from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana in 2005, two dolphins gave birth to calves at Atlantis, Paradise Island.

The first offspring from the famed rescued 'Katrina Dolphins' were born at Dolphin Cay, the new dolphin interaction and education center at Atlantis. The first was born to 32-year-old Kelly on April 4, 2007. A second calf, was born on April 6, 2007 to 21-year-old Michelle. The two moms, who were together in a special maternity pool within the habitat at the time of both births, have spent the first days nurturing and bonding with the newest members of the Dolphin Cay family.

Presently, marine specialists are monitoring the calves to ensure their proper development. "These births are the first successful ones for Dolphin Cay from the rescued 'Katrina Dolphins' that are expecting offspring, a true testament to the full recovery and acclimation of these miraculous animals," said Frank Murru, Chief Marine Officer, Kerzner International.

The two mothers and fourteen of their fellow Dolphin Cay residents, were stranded or swept to sea when their former home at the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, Mississippi, was destroyed during the infamous Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The dolphins were rescued and nursed back to health, then transported to Atlantis to fully recover and reside in the new state-of-the-art habitat.

All of the Dolphin Cay residents live in eleven interconnected pools containing nearly seven million gallons of crystal-clear seawater, and are cared for night and day by a team of over 55 marine mammal specialists.

"We are proud to say our facility is one of the largest man-made dolphin habitats in the world" said Teri Corbett, Vice President of Marine Mammal Operations. "This along with our state-of-the-art quarantine facility allows us the proper space to safely care for beached or stranded animals and pregnant or nursing mothers."

The residents of Dolphin Cay are all Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, who breathe air through blowholes located on the top of their heads. The average gestation period for a Bottlenose Dolphin is 12 months. At the end of this period, they give birth to live young, called calves.

The calf, born with sparse hair on its rostrum, is a mammal and will nurse from its mother for 12-18 months. The calf will begin to eat fish at 4-5 months of age. At birth, the average Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin is three feet long and weighs about 40 pounds.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"