Sunday, October 30, 2005

Is capturing dolphins to provide humans with encounters inhumane?

The enticing Mexican beach resort city of Cancun is one of the hottest vacation destinations for Americans. From the luxurious hotels that line its white-sand beaches to the antics of spring break, its turquoise-colored waters draw thousands of tourists from the United States every year.

As this top-notch vacation destination continues to gain in popularity, more tourists are coming to Cancun with a very specific purpose: an up-close and personal encounter with a dolphin.

"People demand more and more," said Mauricio Martinez, director of Parque Nizuc, a Cancun water park that features dolphins. "People love it."

But as the number of tourists demanding time with the animals continues to swell, so does the business of capturing them, sometimes under what activists consider deplorable conditions.
'A Very Violent Procedure'

At places like Parque Nizuc, tourists pay more than $100 each for a chance to pet, kiss or even be propelled through the water by dolphins.

With a single dolphin capable of generating $1 million a year, business is good. But is life good for the dolphins?

Martinez thinks so.

"I think they are very happy here," he said. "They have customers who enjoy being with them — they are enriched, they are motivated."

But when animal activist Ric O'Barry visits a dolphin park, he sees a much darker reality.
"The dolphin smile is nature's greatest deception; it creates the illusion they actually like doing this job," O'Barry said. "But if this dolphin were laying up on the dock dead, it would still look like it's smiling."

During the 1960's, O'Barry became the man who introduced a generation of Americans to dolphins as the trainer for the television show "Flipper."

Five dolphins were used to play the role, and O'Barry says he captured all of them himself, something that eventually made him hate his work.

"The concept of a humane capture is an oxymoron — there is no such animal," he said. "I've captured over a hundred dolphins myself, humanely, and I can tell you it's a lot like rape. It's a very violent procedure."

The Dolphin Broker

For O'Barry, the final straw was when his favorite "Flipper" dolphin died in his arms from what he says was stress and depression.

That was 30 years ago, and ever since he and other activists have fought tirelessly to put an end to dolphin captures.

He and his peers have helped produce changes in the United States and Mexico, which have banned or restricted the taking of dolphins from the wild.

In fact, no dolphin park in the United States has brought in a captive dolphin in more than 10 years. Yet, in other parts of the world, the demand for captive dolphins remains high.

Brokers, who can make up to $100,000 per animal, are scouring the globe for new supplies all the time.

That's why Chris Porter, the biggest dolphin broker in the world — a man hated by animal activists, but who considers himself a friend and protector of dolphins — says his conservation efforts are so important.

"What I provide is an alternative," he said. "I think in order to impact change you need to provide an alternative."

Porter has made a business of buying and selling dolphins — a practice he says is in the interest of conservation, not profit.

"If it wasn't good for the dolphins, I wouldn't do it," he said.
But O'Barry says Porter is nothing more than a greedy businessman looking to make a profit from a detestable trade.

The Solomon Island Captures

In 2003, Porter came to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific where every year hundreds of wild dolphins are hunted and killed by native fishermen.

He bought up almost a hundred dolphins — the largest single dolphin capture recorded — and quickly found himself under siege as activists began showing up on his doorstep, demanding to see the animals.

"Prior to my arrival no one was even aware of the Solomon Islands, or that they actually killed dolphins on such a large-scale basis," Porter said.

But Dave Phillips, environmentalist and executive director of the Earth Island Institute, says what Porter did was not bring attention to a barbaric practice or save the animals as he claims, but instead lined his pockets with blood money.

"The Solomon captures by Porter were horrific," said Phillips. "Really the worst instance of capture for dolphin trafficking in the world."

Phillips says Porter came to the little-known Solomons to buy dolphins under the radar.

"At a time when most countries would have thrown Porter in jail for engaging in the activities," he said, "here he had found a place where he could slip out a hundred or two hundred dolphins a year. This was the Mecca of dolphin trafficking."

But Porter insists he's looking for a humane solution and says a properly-run marine park is a great alternative that gives a dolphin a home and allows people to gain respect and appreciation.
"I think in order to impact change you need to provide an alternative," he said. "You can simply not abstain from it and that's where I differ with the activists."

'He's a Dolphin Dealer'

O'Barry doesn't trust Porter in part because, as a former trainer, he says he would often deceive the public about his role in captures.

"How is he saving them? He might be saving that one, but he's contributing to the slaughter of 20,000 more by keeping them in business," he said. "He's not an environmentalist, he's a dolphin hunter — he's a dolphin dealer."

O'Barry says activists have found that many of Porter's dolphins were actually caught in parts of the Solomon Islands where no hunt exists — a claim Porter denies.

Porter, however, downplays his plans to re-sell many of the dolphins to parks around the world.
In his first deal, 28 of the Solomon Islands dolphins made the trip halfway around the world to Parque Nizuc in Mexico. The incredible profit Porter is believed to have made from the deal is something he is not anxious to discuss.

"I'm not shy about the number," he claimed. "We're a private company and we have confidentiality agreement with different organizations."

Porter claims that, regardless of the number, any profits he makes from selling dolphins are recycled into his various conservation efforts, including a new dolphin resort he's building in the Solomons.

Meanwhile, the Earth Island Institute has convinced the Solomons government into slapping a ban on any future dolphin exports
"What were the Solomons getting out of Porter's plans? A few dollars and a lot of bad public attention." said Phillips.

Porter's Conservation Efforts

With Porter insisting his business was intended to help dolphin conservation efforts, "Primetime" investigated what exactly happened to the 28 dolphins that were shipped to Cancun.

According to documents obtained from the Mexican Wildlife Department, in just 1 ½ years, six of the dolphins died from a variety of causes. Martinez, the director of Parque Nizuc, said his facility gave the dolphins the best care possible, and had a difficult time explaining the deaths.

"That's one of the realities of the business of dolphins, monkeys, horses, whatever," he said.
As far as the dolphins left behind in the Solomon Islands, Porter admitted that in May, seven of the animals died from food poisoning and all 12 of a special breed known as spotted dolphins also died in captivity.

Despite the creatures' deaths and accusations that he simply shouldn't be dealing in dolphins, Porter sees the alternative for the animals as unacceptable.

"Apathy is terrible, and by doing nothing is terrible," he explained. "If I have the opportunity to save 12 animals from a hunt, I really question why am I a bad guy? I think it's worse to leave those 12 animals knowing that they're destined to die."

O'Barry sees things a little differently, saying that fighting to stop what is wrong is the only way.
But O'Barry's biggest opponent may not be brokers like Porter, but the growing streams of tourists eager for a close-up peek at the dolphins' friendly faces.

"Flipper" trainer against dolphin tourism

O'Barry, who used to humanely capture dolphins, said one of the five dolphins that used to play Flipper died in his arms from stress and depression, ABC News reported Friday. Since the 1960s TV series, O'Barry and other environmentalists have gotten the United States and Mexico to ban or restrict the taking of dolphins from the wild, however, he says dolphin brokers can still make $100,000 per captured dolphin worldwide.

Chris Porter, the biggest dolphin broker in the world who bought almost a hundred dolphins from the Solomon Islands in 2003, says he works in the interest of conservation, not profit. "If it wasn't good for the dolphins, I wouldn't do it," he told ABC News. Mexican Wildlife Department documents say six of the dolphins from Porter have died from a variety of causes. At the Parque Nizuc, a water park in Cancun, Mexico, tourists pay $100 to pet, kiss or be propelled through the water by dolphins.

Dolphin feeding continues despite ban

Feeding wild dolphins was outlawed a few years ago, but the marine mammals are unaware of that and apparently so are some boaters, authorities said.

They are trying to get the word out, at least to humans, in the Panama City area where dolphin feeding has been going on for years with some dangerous consequences.

About a month ago, boaters reported seeing a dolphin embedded with fishing hooks. Biologists from Florida State University, Gulf World Marine Park and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found the animal Wednesday but determined it was in no need of rescue.
Ron Hardy, Gulf World's general manager, said a hook had come out of the dolphin's eye and it appeared to be healing.

Dolphin feeding has declined, but the animals are accustomed to it and approach boats for handouts, Hardy said.

NOAA biologist Trevor Spradlin said begging for food was an easy way for dolphins to supplement their diets, but the animals would learn to stay away from boats if people would stop giving in to them.

Charter boat captains also have complained about dolphins waiting for fish to get hooked and then stealing the catch. Hardy said one captain videotaped a pod of dolphins that followed his boat in the Gulf of Mexico looking for a free lunch.

Breaking the dolphins' behavior is going to be difficult and research is needed to come up with new tactics, Hardy said.

Lt. Stan Kirkland of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said dolphins also target undersize fish that anglers toss back.

Kirkland said officers have been advising boaters and commercial operators that dolphin feeding is against the law.

"We do arrest people on occasion, but our focus is ultimately on education," he said.

Investigation on dolphin stabbing defended

WILDLIFE officers have defended the vigour of their investigation into the death of a Port Phillip Bay dolphin found with seven stab wounds.

This is despite a fisherman voluntarily admitting to Department of Sustainability staff that he had stabbed the dolphin after finding it already dead and floating in water off Geelong in September.

Pathology reports have failed to discover why the otherwise healthy female bottlenose died. But an autopsy by a specialist veterinary pathologist has ruled out the possibility the dolphin died of stab wounds.

The fisherman claimed to have found the dead dolphin and stabbed it to make it sink to reduce any danger to boats.

DSE spokesman Ron Waters said yesterday there would have been public outrage if wildlife officers had not vigorously investigated.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Fishermen or dolphin killers?

TWO fishermen have admitted stabbing a dolphin in Corio Bay last month but claim it was already dead and they were only trying to sink it.

They will not be charged as pathology tests have failed to determine the cause of the dolphin's death.

"As far as we are concerned, the investigation is now closed unless we get some new information," said Department of Sustainability and Environment wildlife manager Ron Waters.
Wildlife officers were horrified by the discovery of a dead bottlenose dolphin with seven stab wounds at Corio Bay on September 19.

Two fishermen came forward after widespread publicity and said they had stabbed the carcass in an attempt to sink it and avoid it washing up on a beach.

"The cause of death could not be determined however … tests revealed it was unlikely to have been related to the stabbing," Mr Waters said. "But the bottom line is that we don't know what killed the animal but we would open this case tomorrow if anybody else came forward with information."

The secrets of dolphins DNA

Unravelling the secrets of dolphin DNA

DNA inherited along maternal lineages holds the secret to the relationship between New Zealand’s bottlenose dolphin populations and could help conservation efforts, according to researchers at The University of Auckland.

Gabriela de Tezanos Pinto, a PhD student based at the Faculty of Science’s School of Biological Sciences, is studying the population structure and relationship between New Zealand bottlenose dolphins.

In the third year of her research, Gabriela is analysing the DNA dolphins inherit from their mothers (mitochondrial DNA) to see if there are connections between different populations in New Zealand and around the Pacific Ocean.

“I’ve found that we have three small and isolated populations in the coastal waters of New Zealand which includes Northland, Marlborough Sound and Fiordland.”

Bottlenose dolphins are highly mobile and some individuals are capable of long-range dispersal for over a thousand kilometres. But long-range movement doesn’t seem to be the common rule for New Zealand coastal bottlenose dolphins.

“For example, the Doubtful Sound population was thought to be completely isolated with no apparent movement of individuals but genetic evidence indicates some interchange with oceanic (those that live in the open sea) populations,” Gabriela says.

Gabriela says the conservation value of her work is the highlight.

“Compared with other dolphin populations in New Zealand, such as the dusky and Hector’s dolphins, bottlenoses are less abundant, are more isolated and have lower rates of reproduction.”
This is of concern, she says, because the ability of a population to adapt and evolve to environmental changes is determined by genetic variation, and the more variability in a gene pool the easier it is to adapt, evolve and survive.

“Before my research, we didn’t know whether bottlenose dolphins represented one single robust population with individuals moving form one place to the other or whether they were three isolated and vulnerable populations. This is an important question for the long-term management of the species in New Zealand.

“The number of dolphins that are actively reproducing in Doubtful Sound is expected to be only about 20, less than the number of reproducing kakapos. This is a concern for the future of this population.”

Gabriela says the kapako and Hector’s dolphin have received a lot of attention and funding for conservation efforts as they are New Zealand native species, whereas bottlenose dolphins can be found elsewhere in the world.

However, she says what is being overlooked is that New Zealand’s bottlenose dolphins have certain special characteristics which make them different from other populations in the world, and they need to be protected.

“The three populations in New Zealand are ecologically different from each other, and how the dolphins have adapted to such different conditions is intriguing. For example, the Doubtful Sound dolphins live in a complex and unique environment composed of at least three metres of fresh water on top of the salt water. That is unusual for dolphins as they are used to saltwater environments and this adaptation to a semi-freshwater environment is especial.”

Originally from Argentina, Gabriela now lives in Auckland and spends time collecting samples in the Bay of Islands and Hauraki Gulf and analysing them at the University’s Molecular Ecology Laboratory.

She has found that the Northland dolphins have the highest genetic variability in New Zealand, and also when compared with other coastal bottlenose dolphin populations around the world.

The preliminary analysis of genetic data in New Zealand shows that movements of individuals among populations is very low, perhaps less than one female per generation. So, if the variability of the Northland population is not a result of movements of individuals from other populations, you have to wonder where it comes from,” says Gabriela.

To answer this question, she requested scientists from around the world for samples of bottlenose dolphins and also reconstructed mitochondrial DNA sequences from published surveys.

Her findings so far suggest that there may be oceanic populations of bottlenose dolphins that occasionally interbred with the coastal ones, mixing their gene pool and representing a source of genetic variation; also reflecting the long-term contact between the New Zealand bottlenose dolphins and other populations throughout the Pacific Ocean.

Beached dolphins and whales

Up to 60 whales and dolphins have been reported stranded on a remote beach in southern Australia, a wildlife official said on Tuesday.A fisherman spotted the animals swimming onto a beach near Marion Bay on the southern island state of Tasmania early on Tuesday, according to Liz Wren, a spokesperson for the state's parks and wildlife service.

The beach where the whales were stranded is accessible only by boat, and officials were flying over the area to assess the situation, Wren said.She said it was not clear what species of whale was involved in the stranding.Wren also said it was not clear why the whales might have beached themselves, but that the area was a "hot spot for strandings in the past".

Fetus brain growth stimulated by dolphins language

Expectant mothers have played music to their unborn children for years in the belief that it gives their babies a good early start.

Now scientists say that the squeals and squeaks of dolphins may be more effective at stimulating brain growth in a foetus. Researchers believe that the energy produced by the creatures' ultrasonic calls could promote the development of a baby's senses in the womb.

The claims have been made by Elizabeth Yalan, the dean of the Obstetrician College of Peru. She said: "The high-range sounds dolphins emit are registered by the baby. These sounds stimulate the nerves in the brain and the child's audible senses."

At one Peruvian aquarium, expectant mothers line up beside the pool and a dolphin nuzzles their bellies making high-pitched noises.

A study by the University of Wales, Swansea, found that 70 per cent of people who listen to tape-recordings of dolphin sounds had significant improvements their mental abilities.

Meanwhile, British tour operators are seeing a steady increase in expectant mothers wanting to swim with dolphins, with the total number of trips having risen by more than 40 per cent in the past five years.

Ruth Corner, the owner of the holiday company Dolphinswims, said: "This year almost a fifth of our dolphin swimmers have been pregnant women. When these mothers-to-be enter the water the dolphins seem to home in on them."

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, however, does not recommend swimming with dolphins.

Ric Warren, a spokesman, said: "There is much evidence that a baby responds to external stimuli, but as yet, there is no evidence that the act of stimulation leads to either an improvement of childhood activities or harm to the baby."

Dolphins Training

The dolphin is an animal that seeks "friendship for no advantage," according to the Greek philosopher Plutarch. But that's not necessarily true at the Texas State Aquarium.

Sundance, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, responds to a command during the 'Dolphin Trainer for a Day' at Texas State Aquarium.

Bottlenose dolphin Kimo is engaged by reporter Brian Chasnoff during his exposure to the mammal as he participates in the 'Dolphin Trainer for a Day' program.

If you go

Getting there: Take I-37 South for 142 miles. In Corpus Christi, merge onto U.S. 181 North and take the Corpus Christi Beach exit. Follow the road's curve and make a right on Burleson Street. Go to the first stop sign and make another right on Surfside Boulevard. Keep going until you see the blue Texas State Aquarium sign. There are two parking lots in front of the Aquarium, 2710 N. Shoreline Blvd.Lodging: The Radisson Beach Hotel, at 3200 Surfside Blvd., is a five-minute walk from the aquarium. For reservations, call (800) 242-5814 or (361) 883-9700. Visit the Web site at www.radisson. com/corpuschristitx.

Dolphin trainer: The program costs $250 and is available four days a week: Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It lasts from 7:45 a.m. until noon. Participants prepare for and take part in a dolphin presentation, assist in feeding the dolphins, learn training methods and receive a 'Trainer for a Day' T-shirt and certificate. Participants must be at least 13 years of age, be in good physical shape and know how to swim. Nonslippery, closed-toe shoes and pants or shorts are required. Wear clothing you do not mind getting wet or dirty.More information: Find out more about the dolphin-training program at

Sundance, a dolphin on loan to Texas State Aquarium from the Indianapolis zoo, shows curiosity during a break in training.

A dolphin trainer at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi leads Sundance around the tank during a performance. Like Kimo, Sundance was born in captivity.

The grounds here are teeming with advantage, and it all smells like raw fish.

Herring and capelin, to be exact, and they're all piled in giant sinks beside a man-made tank of chlorinated water where two friendly dolphins live and perform tricks, but only if you feed them raw fish.

Which is exactly why I traveled that day to the aquarium on the shores of Corpus Christi Beach.
A "Dolphin Trainer for a Day" program brochure promised to bring me into the fold for a mere $250. "You can be a dolphin trainer," the brochure assured me. Another brochure urged me to "examine the mystical connection that seems to exist between dolphins and humans."

Indeed, Plutarch was not alone in his enchantment with our aquatic cousins. For thousands of years, humans have fostered a wide-eyed awe for dolphins, venerating them as playful, gentle and highly intelligent creatures.

Tales surfaced as early as 400 B.C. of dolphins rescuing sailors and spiriting them to shore. In 1996, dolphins reportedly rescued a man in the Red Sea who had been attacked by a shark, encircling him to ward off Jaws until his companions could pull him to safety.

Beyond their purely practical use as protectors from drowning or mutilation, dolphins have been said to impart spiritual healing to those who share their waters — hence their purported "mystical" properties.

Reporting to my class at the aquarium with such lore bubbling in my head, I opted to cast off my own cynicism about dolphins living in captivity. Frankly, I figured, I could use a new friend, and lord knows a little spiritual healing wouldn't hurt either.

But cynicism, it turned out, doesn't cast off so easily.

It's not that the dolphins weren't enchanting. They won me over the moment I arrived at Dolphin Bay, a tank of aqua-blue water that overlooks the edge of the ship channel leading in from Corpus Christi Bay.

Sundance and Kimo, two male Atlantic bottlenose dolphins on loan from the Indianapolis Zoo, greeted me with permanent grins and ethereal clicks and whistles. Sundance wiggled his flippers when I lay on the ground to tickle his belly, and every time I strolled past the tank, Kimo would pop his sleek blue head from beneath the water and survey me with one steadied black eye.

"He likes you," said Emma Salinas, a staff dolphin trainer.

I wondered: Does he react to everyone like that?

"Some people he does, some people he doesn't."

A brotherly love filled my breast. After all, the dolphins and I weren't all that different.
As mammals, they had been born live, breathed air and once suckled milk from their mamas. Dolphins are even born with a temporary beard, I was told. And they are the only mammals other than human beings that engage in sex for pleasure.

Maybe dolphins are highly intelligent after all.

As I prepared to enter the training facility behind the tank, I looked out over the harbor and watched a small shrimping boat purr beneath the Harbor Bridge. Sometimes wild dolphins from the gulf glide alongside the boats, Salinas said. We continued inside, but it was too late, the division had been set.

Caged versus wild.

Imprisoned versus free.

Herring and capelin instead of catfish and calamari: two seafood favorites of gulf-swimming dolphins.

Kimo and Sundance were both born in captivity. Now, at 21 years of age, they were about halfway through their life spans, which have consisted primarily of slurping down a guaranteed supply of fish and performing tricks for wide-eyed admirers on a daily basis.

Did I still have a problem with that? I wasn't sure. After all, surely there are benefits to living in a fully catered ocean resort.

"We are very, very careful with these dolphins," Salinas told me. I spent most of the remaining half-day learning just how careful indeed.

The tank's chlorine level is tested three times a day to ensure the dolphins don't get sick. Each dolphin's intake of fish is measured meticulously against its weight so trainers can provide a proper diet. Multivitamins are stuffed regularly into the capelin. Trainers routinely brush the dolphins' sharp, conical teeth.

And predators? In an immaculate and isolated water tank, there aren't any.

But is something not lost as well? In the wild, a dolphin can hold its breath for up to 15 minutes, a skill that becomes useful during naptime. As captive creatures, though, Kimo and Sundance are only able to stay under for eight minutes. Has captivity dulled their natural instincts?

Tank-life certainly has increased their obedience. I easily administered a mock blood test with a plastic plunger on the underside of Kimo's tail, which the dolphin presented after a mere flash of my hand.

I then went inside the training facility to learn via a power-point presentation why the command had worked so well.

It's called operant conditioning, and it works like a charm.

The simple idea behind this psychological model is that the likelihood of a behavior is increased or decreased depending on the consequences that follow, and it applies just as well to your 3-year-old child as your bottlenose dolphin. When you wave your left hand and the subject waves his left flipper, give him a fish. When you wave your left hand and the subject waves his right flipper: sorry, no fish. Eventually, the subject will learn.

And negative reinforcement doesn't work, I was told. In the case of disobedience, the best response is just to ignore and then refocus.

Finally, I was asked to put what I had learned to the test, but not yet with a dolphin. For practice, I would train Sunshine, a lustrous and endangered citron cockatoo from the Solomon Islands. Of course, Sunshine already had been trained, which didn't stop it from defecating on the floor and squawking irritably at my efforts. This did not bode well for my upcoming performance.

Outside, a sizable audience of aquarium visitors already had gathered in seats around the tank, awaiting my debut as an instant trainer. I rolled up my pants and waded knee-deep into the water, my instructor, Salinas, at my side. I felt fairly prepared, well-coached in the series of hand gestures that the dolphins recognize without fail.

Sundance performed like the pro he has become, wiggling his flippers and sliding toward me on his belly with great alacrity despite my awkward commands.

After the audience had dispersed, I got a little extra treat myself: a personal training session with Kimo, the other dolphin.

I extended a pole out in front of me, and Kimo leapt over it more than 6 feet in the air. I brushed my fingers forward, and Kimo flipped over backward, soaking me with his tail.

When we were finished with the session, Salinas insisted I kiss Kimo, so I clutched the blubber that was his chin and planted one on his wide, wet mouth. Then, of course, I gave him a fish. Having swallowed his reward, Kimo abruptly dunked his head underwater. I wondered, was that normal behavior? Or was he trying to wash off my human germs?

Parting was such sweet enigma. I wondered just how advantageous was Kimo's friendship, how genuine our interactions. Does a dolphin lose its "mystical" nature when confined to a chlorinated tank?

"They're not robots," Salinas insisted, explaining that sometimes the dolphins refuse to perform, like underwater divas.

But if we were to meet in the wild, with Kimo swimming free and me floundering in the sea foam, I still couldn't be sure if he would carry me ashore or leave me for the sharks.

Besides, as Douglas Adams explained in his "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," our aquatic cousins are destined to abandon us in the earth's final moments. "So long, and thanks for all the fish" indeed.

Returning to the hotel, I did not feel spiritually healed, just wet and reeking of herring. But I had interacted with a beautiful creature, and that alone seemed of great value.

In the end, I could just choose to believe Kimo and Sundance are genuinely happy to live apart from their natural environment, and my newfound friends love me unconditionally and not for my raw fish.

Because of our mystical connection, of course.

Government to help Ganges river dolphins numbers

To mitigate the extinction of endangered Ganges Dolphin, the Uttar Pradesh government has urged the Centre to intervene and help revive the aquatic specie.

Habitat degradation along with over expliotation of fisheries are the main reasons for the threat to Ganges dolphins even as the state government had sent an SOS to the Centre for taking concrete steps to prevent river pollution.

State Environment Minister Ujjawal Raman Singh is expected to meet Union Environment Minister this week at New Delhi to apprise him of the threat of extinction to the engandered specie.
''We will raise the issue and demand the Centre to include the UP environment department in monitoring the works being done to prevent river pollution,'' he told UNI.

At present only some NGOs, urban development department and local bodies were entrusted by the Centre to implement the environment project including the mega Ganga Action Plan (GAP) .
According to latest World Bank report on Ganges Dolphin of UP, the specie had been extirpated in those rivers, which had been acutely affected by water abstraction and discharge modification by dams and irrigation barrages.

The report -- published last year -- said that dolphin population in UP was around 687 in Ganga, Ghagra and Chambal rivers. Some dolphins also reside in the main Ganga between Bijnore and Narora, while a few are found in the Kanpur-Allahabad section of Ganga and Sone rivers.
The presence of a large number of barrages in the upper stretches of Ganges had isolated the river dolphin population cuasing a threat for inbreeding and loss of population size.

Over exploitation of fisheries, and use of mosquito mesh nets is another threat to the survival of the specie, Although the UP Forest department had formulated a strategy and GAP to conserve the river dolphins way back in 2002, but still nothing could be achieved.

As per the Plan, it was decided that commercial fishing and sand mining in important riverine biodiversity zones would be stopped immediately. The forest department was also to enforce the legal provisions to protect the endangered wildlife specie in all the river stretches in UP.
The Ganges dolphin is found in the Ganges and Brahmaputra river system in seven states of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, MP, Rajasthan, UP and West Bengal.

The dolphin is an indicator of the health of riverine ecosystem as it is at the apex of the aquatic food chain and its presence in adequate number symbolises rich biodiversity in the river system.
The Ganges Dolphin, commonly known as 'Sasu' is protected legally as it is included in the 'Schedule 1' of the India Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and the World Conservation Union has categorized this specie as 'Endangered' in 1996.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Beattie thanked for intervention on dolphin feeding

Cooloola Shire Council will write to Queensland Premier Peter Beattie formally thanking him for his intervention in the row over dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay in the state's south-east.

The Premier became involved when locals and tourists defied a ban on dolphin feeding, which was ordered by Environment Minister Desley Boyle.

People power eventually won and the Government is allowing the feeding to continue.
Councillor Peter Cantrell moved council write to the Premier thanking him for his personal involvement, by visiting the feeding site and lifting the ban.

"It was both timely and appropriate I think and with a commonsense approach I think it's also indicative of the level of feeling as to the need to be an eminently sensible resolution," he said.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pregnant women turn to dolphin therapy

In Peru pregnant women are turning to dolphins to make their babies smarter. Scientists say the dolphins' high-pitched squeal actually stimulates brain activity in unborn babies.

Researchers believe it helps with the development of babies' senses.

Women have been lining up to get "dolphin therapy." Dolphins have been trained to swim up to the women and call to their babies. Some women say they feel the response from the babies.

Rare dolphin's carcass found on beach

Post-mortem tests concluded that the injuries sustained were consistent with being caught in fishing nets.

Striped dolphins are acrobatic mammals usually found in tropical and subtropical regions in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Volunteers from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust were called to the scene at Porthmeor beach near St Ives.

Marine conservation officer, Joanna Doyle, said: "This one dolphin should be a message to everybody, including the decision makers, that something has to be done to stop these deaths and to reform the fisheries here in the UK and at the European level."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Two unreleasable dolphins were given to Vancouver by Japanese government

Two Pacific white-side dolphins the Japanese government deemed "not releasable" to the wild arrived at the Vancouver Aquarium Sunday morning after an eight-hour flight from Japan.
The two, badly injured in fishing net mishaps at the time of their capture, are now healthy and will join the aquarium's resident duo, an 18-year-old male named Spinnaker and his 27-year-old mate, Laverne.

While aquarium officials expect the dolphins will be a popular display for visitors, not everyone is thrilled with the latest acquisition.

Doug Imbeau of the environmental group, Coalition for No Whales in Captivity, said his group has been fighting for 15 years to stop more whales and dolphins from coming to the aquarium.
Imbeau said the coalition is particularly opposed to the purchase of dolphins from Japan, a country, he said, that regularly rounds up wild dolphins to sell to aquariums and to slaughter for food.

Clint Wright, the Vancouver Aquarium's vice-president of animal care, said the facility has been actively looking to boost its population of white-sided dolphins in its West Coast exhibit for years in an effort to achieve a "normal-sized unit" for dolphins in the wild of between four and six animals.
But the search has been limited by the terms of an agreement with the Vancouver park board that restricts the aquarium from buying or acquiring any dolphin captured from the wild in the last nine years.

Dolphins born in captivity are also hard to find, as attempts to breed the animals have been met with limited success, said Wright.

In all, he said, "it's been a very difficult search."

The acquisition of the two new dolphins make for an important exception, however. Under the terms of the agreement with the park board, the aquarium is able to buy rehabilitated dolphins with injuries that prevent them from surviving in the wild, no matter when they were captured.

According to Wright, the two new dolphins fit that criteria. Helen, a 17-year-old female, had to have portions of her pectoral (front) flippers amputated when she was first brought in for rehabilitation at Japan's Enoshima Aquarium in 1996, he said. The second dolphin, an as-yet-unnamed female who is about 11 years old, came to the Japanese aquarium in 2003 suffering from starvation brought on by fishing-net injuries.

Wright wouldn't say how much the aquarium paid for the dolphin pair, citing a confidentiality agreement with the Enoshima Aquarium. However, he did say that it cost the aquarium more than $200,000 to buy and transport the dolphins.

He said they appear to have withstood the trip well. "They are already eating, so that's a good sign."

Accompanied by Wright and aquarium veterinarian David Huff, the two dolphins came to Vancouver in a climate-controlled aircraft. The animals made the trip suspended in slings inside a transport tank partially filled with water.

The dolphins are now in a holding pool. They are expected to join Laverne and Spinnaker some time early this week in the main pool.

Wright said, along with taking part in public shows, the new arrivals will be used in marine research. Specifically, he said, the aquarium is hoping to study ways of teaching dolphins, using their own bio-sonar abilities, to detect fishing nets in the water and, therefore, avoid getting tangled up in them. The study will focus on how dolphins measure sound.

Encounters with fishing nets kill and maim thousands of dolphins and whales every year. The nets are difficult for the dolphins to see underwater, and, so far, man-made sonar technologies have failed to reliably prevent dolphin-net entanglements, Wright said.

The aquarium will also study dolphin metabolism in conjuction with a multi-year research program that began in Japan, with Helen as its main subject.

Though white-sided dolphins are a common species along the Pacific Coast, little is known about them and research is vital to conservation efforts, Wright said.

Meanwhile, Imbeau of the Coalition for No Whales in Captivity, said his group is planning to make a presentation to the Vancouver park board tonight asking that citizens be allowed to vote in a referendum on whether they want the aquarium to continue keeping whales and dolphins in captivity.

Failing that, "protesting is something that we will consider," he said.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Sea World pairs up newborn killer whale with bottlenose dolphin

SeaWorld San Antonio animal care specialists are caring for a female killer whale calf after the mother rejected it after giving birth Sunday.

This is the first time that staff from any SeaWorld park has intervened to raise a calf from birth.
A female bottlenose dolphin has been paired with the calf to swim with it at the park's Shamu Stadium.

Specialists have started feeding formula to the infant, whose birth increases the park's killer whale population to eight.

The calf was the first born to 17-year-old Kayla, who weighs 6,000 pounds. The calf weighs 264 pounds and is 6 feet, 9 inches.

The staff is monitoring both animals daily. The calf is in guarded condition. The mother's condition is good and she is eating well.

Increase of dolphins calves in the Bay of Biscay

THE Biscay Dolphin Research Programme (BDRP) has recorded an increasing number of whale and dolphin calves and juveniles in the Bay of Biscay and English Channel during the spring and summer months confirming the importance of the area as a calving ground and an area probably used by many species during the post-natal period.

Clive Martin, BDRP Director and Senior Wildlife Officer said:“In May we started to record calves amongst the Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) pods which are often encountered bow riding the Pride of Bilbao, we have also encountered Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) calves in the English Channel. A number of Fin (Balaenoptera physalus) and Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) calves and juveniles have also been encountered during May and June.

”Clive Martin and Matt Hobbs also from BDRP, who was leading a Company of Whales tour, witnessed an incredible sighting of Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis) on a July crossing of Biscay. Over 3500 dolphins were seen during the passage south with a single pod in excess of 1000 individuals, with more than 50 juveniles and calves – this clearly demonstrates the importance of the area for this species.

With many cetaceans under threat from over fishing, by-catch and habitat destruction in many parts of the World, habitats such as Biscay which provide important feeding areas for a wide range of cetacean species and for mothers with calves are critically important and need to be protected.

The Bay of Biscay is a area of variable sea depths, ranging from shallow coastal waters (less than 100 meters) to the very deep abyssal plain (>4000 meters), with many underwater features such as deep sea canyons and a steep continental slope. The prevailing winds and sea currents make the waters along the slope very productive and attractive to marine life, including is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish European Fish Trader, Fishing Monthly, Fish Farming Today, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.

Sand mining could destroy Hawaiian dolphin specie

Dr Liz Slooten – who is speaking about the dolphin in Hamilton this week – said mining companies already mined parts of the West Coast but were seeking consent to extend their range. With just 111 maui's dolphins left in the wild, Dr Slooten said they were the marine equivalent of the kakapo and teetering on extinction.

The impact of mining on their habitat would be devastating.

"It's not like the sand miners will be directly harming the dolphins but what they do is literally vacuum up the sand in the area."

The sand is used for making steel and either dumped after the iron has been extracted or used to make concrete.

"They can't really go along hoovering up these species and put them back, some of them dead, some of them alive, without any consequences."

Studies showed a stretch of mined sand would take more than a decade for the natural ecological community to recover.

The sand contains and sustains many species, including the fish maui's dolphins eat.
Dr Slooten said the dolphin population –- which was up to 400 –- was now at a level where "we need to do everything we possibly can to reduce human impact".

Dr Slooten's talk about maui's dolphin and marine conservation threats on the North Island's West Coast is on Thursday at the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion at 7.30pm.

Carcass of dolphin washed ashore in India

It is not heartening when your doctor tells you have cholesterol and that you need regular walks. Brisk walks sometimes can be cumbersome and boaring. To break the monotony of my evening walk, I chose the lonely beach along the Sharjah shores. The light was fast fading away. Everything looked calm, save the small hush of the waves. Suddenly my eyes fell on what looked unusual.

A heavy mass dumped in the water caught my attention. Upon a closer look, it was evident I had bumped into a dolphin just washed ashore. The eyes were open and looked alive and its rubbery body still felt fresh. Apparently the dolphin might have just died and the body just washed ashore. It would measure anywhere close to 2 meters from snout to tail.

In the UAE, some dolphins have been measured to be a little under 3m in length. The Bottlenose Dolphin ( Tursiops truncatus) is one of the commonest cetaceans in the UAE and the species most likely to be seen close to cities such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Fujairah. They feed over deep water, and over sand, seagrass and reefs in shallow water.

Those that live close inshore are relatively placid, not displaying the acrobatic energy of their slightly larger counterparts further out to sea. But most bottlenose dolphins are fast, powerful swimmers and often show great acrobatic skills. Even from a fair distance, one may notice as its species name denotes, it has a long slender beak. It is smaller (up to 2 m) and has a white belly and a grey flank band, and during its leaps it spins around its longitudinal axis and somersaults in spectacular displays.

Much of what we know about the local species of cetaceans was based initially on observations made by members of the Natural History Group of Abu Dhabi in the late 1970's and early 1980's. According to proper research conducted by Robert Baldwin, the dolphins are insulated from the cold water by a fat layer of blubber, by which they maintain their body temperature at around 38º C. The female gives birth to one live young that is born tail first. The newborn dolphin must immediately rise to the surface for its first breath of air.

Not being an expert on marine life and particularly about dolphins, it is hard to say which species of dolphin I stumbled upon on the Sharjah beach. But the description suggests that it could be a bottlenose dolphin.

It is very difficult to determine the cause of this dolphin’s death. But many of the dolphins are endangered animals. Threats to their existence include fishing with nets (especially dangerous for those species that prefer to live in shallow, onshore waters), pollution from oil, and general litter, noise pollution, and coastal development and human recreation.

Australian business and government to work together on a dolphin feeding plan

A Tin Can Bay business at the centre of a dolphin feeding controversy says it is keen to work with the Queensland Government to develop new guidelines.

The Government backed down over the weekend on plans to take the cafe owner to court after hundreds of residents and tourists defied an order outlawing the feeding at Tin Can Bay in the state's south-east.

The feeding will continue while scientists study its impact and draw up new guidelines.
Cafe owner Steve Walker says it is important the dolphins are not put at risk.

"We welcome that, we've always wanted that ... if there is something we're doing wrong we've got to correct it, we've got to get it sorted out, it's something for the future - for my children's children and my grandchildren's children," he said.

Greenpeace lost dolphin challenge

The environmental group challenged a law passed in September 2004 that bans fishermen from using "pair trawling" within 12 miles of Britain's coasts. The practice involves two boats dragging a massive net between them to catch sea bass. Dolphins become trapped in the nets and drown.
However, Greenpeace argued the law drove fishermen out further into deeper waters, where there are even more dolphins, the BBC reported.

Justice Stanley Burnton gave Greenpeace leave to appeal his decision, and urged they do it before the start of the next fishing season.

The British and French fleets combined are estimated to drown more than 2,000 common dolphins a year, and the number is sure to grown with the 12-mile exclusion zone in place, Greenpeace said in a statement.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Beauty pageant candidates posed with dolphins

Afternoon on Sentosa Island, at the Dolphin Lagoon. They were all smiles as they took turns to pose for the cameras with the dolphins.

Miss Singapore Chinatown Queen will be crowned at the grand finals of the pageant on 22 Oct at the Neptune Theatre Restaurant. She will also win among cash and prizes, a upgrading diploma course worth $15,000.

The winner will represent Singapore in the upcoming Miss Chinese International Pageant in Hong Kong in January 2006.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Russian animal rights protests against Japanese dolphins slaughter

The Russian animal rights protection center Vita has urged the Japanese government to impose a ban on the catching and slaughtering of dolphins.

In connection with Japan Dolphin Day, internationally observed on October 8, Vita sent an appeal to Japanese Ambassador in Russia Issei Nomura, calling on Japan "to stop one of the major dolphin slaughtering campaigns in the world, conducted annually near the Japanese coast."
The dolphin hunt near the Japanese coast is "carried out in the cruelest way," the appeal says.

Japanese fishermen approach the migration routes of dolphins and other whales on small boats, Vita said in the document. "Once dolphins find themselves near the boats, fishermen surround them, put metal pipes underwater and start banging. Dolphins, hypersensitive to sound, lose their orientation, panic and try to escape the noise. They are so directed into a shallow bay.

Then fishermen wound several dolphins with a knife or a spear, knowing that dolphins never abandon their wounded fellows. After that, the entire shoal is locked in the bay with nets, and they are killed with spears and knives the next morning," the document says.

"The dead and dying dolphins are thrown into the boats and later cut into pieces for sale at Japanese supermarkets and restaurants, often under the guise of meat of larger whales, which is more expensive. A number of dolphins are left alive for sale to dolphinariums in different parts of the world," the appeal reads.

People power to care for dolphins

The Queensland Government has done a backflip over dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay in the state's south-east.

Environment Minister Desley Boyle had threatened to take the owner of a cafe to court after outlawing the feeding last week.

Hundreds of residents and tourists defied the ban this week.
Ms Boyle says "people power" has forced the Government to offer a compromise solution.
She says her department will now work with the Commonwealth and the cafe owners to monitor the dolphins' health.

"If we can get around to sorting out those details then the operation can continue, we can monitor it and make sure that it is scientifically and, in terms of safety of the dolphins, is in good order," she said.

"Hopefuly the time will come when we can give it the tick as a permanent operation.

"We'll need to have those discussions about the proper limits obviously on their operation with the cafe owner so that there can still be this amazing experience but obviously it must be reasonably controlled and managed."

Cafe owner Steve Walker says more than 100 people have been watching the feeding this morning and he is glad the Government has listened.

"We are over the moon," he said. "You've got to understand the pressure which is off Tin Can Bay as a whole.

"We've got our little icon. We've got back the right to do something so natural and pure."

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Feeding ban...a thing of the past!

THE State Government has abandoned controversial legal action to stop dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay.

Premier Peter Beattie told The Courier-Mail last night that the feeding of the two dolphins by the owners of a cafe at Tin Can Bay would be allowed to continue, subject to a scientific survey into impacts on the animals.

Environment Minister Desley Boyle has been under fire this week after referring the matter to the Planning and Environment Court, claiming the feeding was endangering the dolphins.
The Government's position caused an enormous public outcry.

While saying he was "still concerned about the safety of the dolphins", Mr Beattie said the feeding would be allowed following consultation with Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell.

But he said the cafe owners would be required to abide by the findings of the scientific study, and said the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) would monitor the situation closely until the study was completed.

"EPA officers will work with the cafe owners to develop strict guidelines for the feeding," Mr Beattie said.

"There should then be a further scientific study on the impact of the feeding on the dolphins at Tin Can Bay.

"And obviously if the scientific survey says there's no problem they can keep feeding them.
"On that condition, the minister will defer legal action against the owners of the cafe."
Earlier yesterday, Tin Can Bay residents opposing a massive marina and residential development said that they could not discount a link between the proposal and the State Government's proposed ban on wild dolphin feeding.

Save Our Shores Tin Can Bay co-ordinator Greg Wood said it seemed like too much of a coincidence that the proposed 250-berth Fraser Straits Marina was earmarked for the same Norman Point waters currently visited by two wild Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins.
"I'm not making any accusations, but I am asking the question," he said.

Tin Can Bay harbour is owned by the Queensland Government and managed by Queensland Transport.

The marina proposal includes 250 wet berths, 240 dry storage berths, up to 300 car parking spaces, a new kiosk and marine services plus a public waterfront boardwalk and promenade.
However, a spokesman for Environment Minister Desley Boyle, who initiated the controversial court action to stop the 31-year dolphin feeding tradition now managed by Barnacles Cafe, said the marina had nothing to do with the feeding ban.

A spokesman for Fraser Straits Marina said that while a development application had been lodged and there was a requirement for environmental matters to be considered, the legalities of animal feeding were outside the project's scope.

"The marina proposal predates and will postdate the current matter regarding dolphin feeding," he said.

More than 100 people turned up at the Norman Point boat ramp yesterday to feed fish rations to dolphins Mystique and Patch in defiance of last week's directive.

Dolphin with a traveller's heart

Dolphins can travel impressive distances as proven by tagged dolphins. Posted by Picasa

Tagged dolphin with a traveller's heart

Remember those two globe-trotting dolphin that traveled more than 1,000 miles each after they were tagged under the South Carolina Tagging Study?

Now a third dolphin that was tagged offshore Islamorada in the Florida Keys has joined that small group of mega-mile travelers.

Donald Hammond, spearheading the program for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said this latest dolphin traveled 1,046 miles.

It was tagged June 28 by a fishing party on the boat Killin' Time owned by Don Gates of Chuluota.
Just 45 days later, an angler fishing in the Baltimore Canyon area offshore Ocean City, Md., recovered the tagged dolphin.

In all likelihood, Hammond said, the dolphin traveled much more than the 1,046 miles between the tagging and recapture points.

"It does not begin to reveal the total distance the fish traveled when you consider the lateral and vertical movements made during feeding or body-temperature regulation," Hammond said.
In the four years since the study began, 112 tagged dolphin have been recovered out of thousands tagged.

Hammond said six of the tagged fish recovered this year had moved more than 700 miles from their release sites, compared to just seven in the previous three years.

One dolphin this year moved 708 miles from Islamorada to Morehead City, N.C., in just 21 days.
This study, by one biologist who has recruited the involvement of dozens of taggers, has generated some startling data. Unfortunately, the study's tagging segment ended Saturday because Hammond is retiring from the state. He hopes to continue this valuable research on a private basis.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Government goes to court to enforce a ban about feeding dolphins

Queensland Parks and Wildlife legal representatives will today file a court application seeking an end to dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay, between Maryborough and Gympie.

Hundreds of people have defied the Environment Minister Desley Boyle's ban on feeding the animals.

Part owner of the restaurant adjacent to the feeding area Steven Walker says the Minister has acted in contravention of a four-year-old agreement, signed by former environment minister Rod Welford, that dictated that feeding would stop when the dolphins no longer came in to be fed.
"The State Government is actually ripping up its original agreement," he said.

"Part of the process was the phase-out period, was Mystique included, Scarry and Mystique, Scarry doesn't come in any more but Mystique does.

"What Desley Boyle is not thinking about is what about the dolphins, what's going to happen to the dolphins? They're not going to be under controls and guidelines of the EPA."

Autopsy to find cause death of mutilated dolphin

A MUTILATED dolphin carcass found washed up on Saunders Beach on Wednesday night will undergo an autopsy to determine what caused its grisly death.Alarmed residents contacted the Environmental Protection Agency pollution hotline after making the grim discovery.

Staff from the EPA, Queensland Parks and Wildlife and Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries examined the site and took samples yesterday morning.

An EPA spokesperson said a dead adult female Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and some other dead fish were found washed up on the beach.

The dolphin carcass was taken to James Cook University for examination.

Outraged Saunders Beach residents yesterday came forward, fed up with the blatant disregard they said commercial fishers were showing for the environment.

They said Wednesday's discovery was not an isolated incident, but part of an escalating problem.
Helen Ellery said she had found fish heads and entrails on the beach since a commercial fishing trawler set up off Saunders Beach a month ago.

But she said seeing the mutilated dolphin was the most distressing incident by far.

"It had net marks all over it, big gashes and cuts on its head, blood on its tail and fin, and it was slashed up underneath. It had basically been mutilated," Ms Ellery said.

She also counted eight small hammerhead sharks washed up on the beach that afternoon.
"And a couple of days before that, a massive cod, about five feet long, was washed up dead. The carcass was intact - it was huge," she said.

"You can't sit out the front and eat your breakfast, it just stinks of dead fish."

But more concerning to Ms Ellery, who moved to Saunders Beach last December to enjoy the unspoiled natural landscape, is the effect of commercial fishers on the environment.

"I understand people need to fish for a living, and they've had the Government put restrictions on their activities, but they still need to take responsibility for their actions," she said.
"Dolphins, cod and dugongs are protected species and this is a serious offence.
"We will keep pushing until something is done."

Long-term Saunders Beach resident Richard Russell said for several several months each year, the tropical beachside oasis was overrun with a mess of stinking fish guts and carcasses.
"I remember the drama last year with all the dead critters washing up on the beach," Mr Russell said.

"Last year I rang (the Department of) Fisheries to complain about a boat anchored about 30m offshore throwing guts and carcasses over the side and they said there's nothing they could do about it.

"We had a couple of American tourists on the beach yesterday and they were absolutely horrified."
Queensland Seafood Industry Association Townsville representative Andrew Tobin said waters off Saunders Beach had been a popular haunt for commercial fishers for some 15 years.

"Every September to October we get a run of grey mackerel through. There is a high level of fishing over those months," Mr Tobin said.

"Incidents with dolphins and dugongs are very rare, though they happen at times.
"It's a very emotive issue that holds the industry in bad light.

"It's an unfortunate side of fishing that's occurring up there."

Mr Tobin said it was accepted practice for commercial fishers to discard heads and entrails into the water, using the logic they were better back in the system than on land.

He believes the concentrated area, combined with tides and winds had led to the excessive quantity of entrails and remains washing up on the beach.

"QSIA does not support the action of any fishers who have injured an animal and failed to report the incident to the EPA," Mr Tobin said.

Dead dolphin wear the marks of death

A DEAD dolphin covered in fishing net marks was discovered washed up on Saunders Beach late yesterday afternoon.Local residents called the Townsville Bulletin to report the dolphin's death. The dolphin was between 1.5m and 1.8m long.

Resident Richard Russell said the dolphin was just one of many dead fish washed up on Saunders Beach. Mr Russell said it was an annual event as commercial fishermen fished the waters off Saunders Beach.

He said the fishers put out their nets, hauled their catch aboard and then discarded everything they did not want over the side of the boats, including fish guts.

Mr Russell said the dead and dismembered fish, including mackerel, were then washed ashore at Saunders Beach and 'stink the place out'.

Queensland Seafood Industry Association spokesman Neil Green last night said he was surprised to hear that mackerel was being discarded because it was the type of highly prized fish the fishermen would now be seeking.

Mr Green said he would look into the matter today, but discarding of offal over the side of the boat was common practice and the waste was usually cleaned up by birds and other marine life.
As for the dead dolphin, Mr Green said that was something the Environmental Protection Agency was usually called on to investigate.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Dolphin slaughter needs to be stopped

The secret dolphin slaughter October 1st each year sees the beginning of a six month killing season in Japan; the target ~ dolphins and whales. At 12 noon on Saturday 8th October, marine conservationists and concerned individuals will be gathering in over 40 cities worldwide, as part of a peaceful international protest against the annual Japanese Drive Hunt Fisheries; which contribute to the deaths of 20,000 dolphins and small whales each year during what is widely claimed to be a "crime against nature".

Fishermen along Japan’s east coast take part in the annual “Drive Hunt Fishery”. Having driven the animals into shore the fishermen surround the bay with nets, cutting off their means of escape. Many dolphins, confused and frightened, become caught up in the nets and drown. Some animals are selected for purchase by marine parks, the remainder are then hauled ashore and stabbed to death. Marine parks play a huge role in keeping these hunts active – a live dolphin destined for show earns the hunters substantially more than they would receive for a dead dolphin sold for meat.

Associations controlling marine parks and aquariums simply ignore this and continue to purchase animals from the drive hunts. London based charity, Marine Connection, is co-ordinating the UK protest outside the Japanese Embassy in London, with a wide range of concerned groups. These include; Born Free Foundation, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Campaign Whale, Captive Animals Protection Society, Animal Connect, Catastrophes, Cetacea Defence, Environmental Investigation Agency, International Animal Rescue, Marine Connection, RSPCA, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Whale Workshop, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and World Society for the Protection of Animals. Marine Connection Director, Margaux Dodds, explained: "People watching these captured dolphin “shows” in marine parks have no idea that the animals are captured from the wild in such a brutal manner; believing them to be captive bred.

So, just by going to a dolphin show or participating in a dolphin swim programme, you could, unintentionally and unknowingly, be contributing to the suffering of the very animals you wish to protect." ENDS Editor's Notes: 1: The drive fishery season. Between 1 October – 13 December 2004, the fishermen of Taiji reported the capture of 609 dolphins (389 bottlenose dolphins and 220 risso’s dolphins).

While most of these 609 dolphins were killed for human consumption, dolphin trainers selected some of the young and unblemished dolphins for use in captive dolphin shows and dolphin swim programmes. During the hunting season which commenced on 1 October 2003 through to 30 March 2004, the fishermen of Taiji had killed 1,165 dolphins; in the same period they also captured 78 dolphins for sale to marine parks. 2: Most Japanese people are unaware of the killings taking place in their country. Footage of the drive fishery taken by Ric & Helene O’Barry for One Voice, which formed part of the BBC documentary “Dolphin Hunters” shows animals in severe distress being herded into bays and systematically slaughtered – the bodies are then taken away to be butchered.

Some dolphins, unable to surface to breathe, drown due to entanglement in the capture nets, young calves separated from their mothers who they are still dependent upon for milk, will also die from starvation if their mother is captured or killed and those dolphins that do manage to escape capture, will in all likelihood, actually die from injuries sustained during the rounding up process. DVD footage of footage by Ric & Helene O’Barry entitled “Welcome to Taiji” can be viewed on arrangement with the Marine Connection. " When I am going to kill dolphins, they shed tears and close their eyes. How is it possible for me to kill animals, that shed tears and close their eyes at the moment they are killed?" Izumi Ishii (former Japanese Drive Fisherman)

"The Japan Dolphin Day protest is exactly what the dolphin hunters don't want to see happen. They told us not to take pictures because if the world learned about the slaughter, they would have to stop doing it." Ric O’Barry, One Voice “This is not tradition – this is unnecessary slaughter and suffering of wild animals; carried out without conscience to help supply marine parks, if demand stops so will the hunts”. Margaux Dodds, Marine Connection “The hunts demonstrate a shameful disrespect for these intelligent animals.

They also represent a human health risk; Japanese scientists recently found dolphin meat containing 87 times the permitted level of mercury”. Claire Bass, Environmental Investigation Agency “We utterly condemn the senseless, brutal massacre of thousands of dolphins in Taiji every year and hope the public will back the campaign to end it immediately.” Alan Knight, International Animal Rescue / British Divers Marine Life Rescue “Dolphins and whales are a world treasure. It’s time policy makers in Japan recognised growing international condemnation to these killings – they must stop now !” Alan Cooper, Cetacea Defence "The sea will become blood red as the Japanese massacre of dolphins begins again. Shame on those who would slay these intelligent, magnificent animals or imprison them for our 'entertainment'."

Virginia McKenna, Born Free Foundation "These animals are brutally kidnapped from the wild to perform for the public - boycott dolphinariums and other animal prisons" Craig Redmond, Captive Animals Protection Society “Japan's cruel dolphin and porpoise slaughter has been exposed to the world. It can and must be stopped.” Andy Ottoway, Campaign Whale “The killing of more than 20,000 small whales and dolphins in Japan each year continues despite concern from bodies like the International Whaling Commission, on both welfare and conservation grounds”.

Cathy Williamson, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society “We are appalled by the horrific slaughter of dolphins every year by the Japanese drive hunts. This cruel hunt must be banned.” Leah Garces, World Society for the Protection of Animals “We unite in peace and harmony to show our love for dolphins and urge everyone to live in harmony with all beings.”

Defiant tourists continue to feed dolphins

TOURISTS have continued to feed dolphins at a bay in southeast Queensland despite the threat of large fines because of a banon the practice by the state government. Tin Can Bay local cafe owner Steve Walker said about 70 tourists fed the wild Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins this morning with food supplied by his cafe, risking fines of up to $1,125 each.

Queensland Environment Minister Desley Boyle said this week that the feeding of the dolphins near the Tin Can Bay's Norman Point boat ramp would stop because it was illegal and potentially harmful to the mammals.

Mr Walker, who owns Barnacles Bait and Cafe, said the bans would affect the community north of Gympie "financially and spiritually".

"In a little town like Tin Can Bay, it's a small town, we have one main source of tourism in Tin Can Bay, that's the dolphins," he said.

"The minister has given us no lee-way, she has just shut it down.

"One barrister has offered to help us for free, and I have no doubt this is heading to the High Court."

Ms Boyle said the feeding posed a great risk of boat injuries and illness to wild dolphins.
"We care about these rare and beautiful animals and it is not in their best interests to be fed," she said.

"These are wild dolphins, not like the domesticated dolphins ? that are dependant on humans for food.
"This is no joke, we are dead-set serious. We will use legal powers to stop the feeding if it necessary."

She said the agreement on dolphin feeding with Barnacles Bait and Cafe's former owners came to an end in March this year and it had been signed on the basis that the feeding would be phased out.

The author of a bad joke has to answer about dolphin auction

But the Auckland man at the centre of the stunt says it was only a joke and he is surprised at how gullible New Zealanders are.

Mark Lorrigan, 30, an advertising industry worker of New Lynn, set a reserve price of $100,000 for the non-existent mammal, which he said he had caught accidentally while fishing.

Trade Me official Mike O'Donnell said the hoaxer - whom he described as having a "brain the size of a pea" - posted a photo on the website of a dolphin in a backyard swimming pool, saying he was feeding it pilchards and that it would ideally suit a commercial aquarium.
The image was later found to have been electronically altered.

Mr O'Donnell said Trade Me stopped the auction about an hour after it began on Tuesday, but not before bidding reached $10,500. "It was a hoax auction. We removed it immediately and sent the guy a warning.

"Clearly, we think it's, one, wasting people's time; two, it's in bad taste; and three, if it's legitimate it's potentially breaking the law."

Wildlife Enforcement Group senior investigator Peter Younger said authorities were inundated with calls from dolphin lovers.

Conservation Department officers visited Mr Lorrigan. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also spoke to him. He received a warning but no charges would be laid because he had done nothing illegal, Mr Younger said.

"A lot of people are absolutely appalled. He's an advertising executive who did this sort of thing just for fun and wasted three days of everyone's time in the process.

"It's been time-consuming and bloody annoying, not to put too fine a point on it. We're not impressed."

Contacted by The Dominion Post, Mr Lorrigan said the auction was only a joke. He was surprised by all the fuss and the gullibility of so many people.

He regretted any inconvenience his actions had caused and said he planned to make a "substantial donation" to the SPCA.

"Most people just think it was quite funny. I'm surprised how liked dolphins are."
He is having one final laugh. His latest offering on the auction website is a Save Skippy the Dolphin child's jumpsuit.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"