Saturday, August 02, 2008

Human device saved dolphin calf's life!

A baby dolphin that became too weak to swim after getting caught up in fishing nets was saved using a custom-made life jacket, staff at a Japanese aquarium said on Tuesday.

The Umitamago aquarium on the southern island of Kyushu rescued the dolphin after receiving a call from fishermen in February saying it had been caught up in their nets. The creature was so weak that it could not even float on its own in the fishing boat's well.

Aquarium staff came up with the life jacket idea after becoming worn out keeping the ailing long-beaked dolphin afloat in a pool during her recovery.

"The dolphin was so feeble that two of our divers had to support her from below in a pool," said 39-year-old Toru Kumashiro, the mammal team leader at Umitamago. "It was very difficult. For five days, we had to take turns to support her around the clock."

Thanks to the contraption made of polystyrene and swimming floats, which allowed her to use her fins, the dolphin was able to recover sufficiently to swim by herself in nine days, Kumashiro said. A picture from the aquarium showed her wearing the "jacket."

"She is swimming around so energetically now," Kumashiro said. The dolphin was revealed to the public for the first time last week and visitors are being invited to think of a name for her, he said.
The aquarium intends to keep their newest exhibit and conduct research on her in collaboration with the Institute of Cetacean Research.

"There is still not much data on long-beaked dolphins. I hope we can make a contribution," Kumashiro added.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"