Saturday, July 28, 2007

Another stranded dolphin dies!

An attempt to rescue a dolphin found on a Bolivar Peninsula beach came to naught Thursday.A male bottlenose, discovered around 8 a.m., died on the ferry while rescuers were trying to take it for treatment in Galveston.The dolphin, which appeared to be between 2 and 4 years old, was undergoing a necropsy Thursday at the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network on Avenue U.Until the examination is complete, a cause of death won’t be known.

But the dolphin appeared to be undernourished and it had a discharge from its blowhole, said Heidi Watts, operations coordinator for the stranding network.“It’s been sick for a very long time,” she said.Bottlenose dolphins can live into their late 40s.It’s not clear whether the premature death of the animal discovered Thursday is part of a larger pattern.

But two other dolphins have been found stranded alive on Texas beaches in the past week, one in Brazoria County and one on South Padre Island.It’s also not clear whether the recent strandings are related in any way to abnormally high numbers of dolphins washing up on area beaches earlier this year.In a three-and-a-half week period spanning February and March, 72 decomposed dolphins washed up on Galveston County shores.

A reason for those deaths hasn’t been determined, Watts said.

+++How To HelpIf you find a dolphin on the beach:

•Call the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-800-9MAMMAL.

Don’t return the animal to the sea. Illness or injury has made it unable to swim.

•Keep pets away and let no more than two people stay near the animal until help arrives.

•Relieve pressure on its fins by digging holes under them. Relieve pressure on its lungs by digging a pit under the animal and filling it with water.

•Keep the animal cool and wet by splashing water on its skin, but avoid getting water in its blowhole.•Apply wet towels and provide shade but don’t cover fins or flippers.

•Apply sunscreen or zinc oxide, but not suntan oil. Dolphins’ skin can burn severely.

•If the animal is in the surf, support it upright and keep the blowhole out of the water.

•Be careful around the animal’s powerful tail and jaws.

To volunteer or donate to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, call 409-740-4455.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"