Saturday, January 28, 2006

Stranded dolphin in Naples' rescue was successful

Residents, tourists and wildlife officers spent hours in the cool water off Naples trying to save a stranded dolphin, some cradling the mammal while others sang to it.The adult dolphin, with a scarred side and belly, tried to beach itself by the 2200 block of Gulf Shore Boulevard North."Me and my brother were walking on the jetty and we saw the dolphin pretty close," said Kyle Cederberg, 10, of Massachusetts.

"I wanted to try to swim with him so I went in. He just went close to shore and flipped on its side and got stuck. He's just so beat up and ripped up."

"We took him out three times, and he kept coming back," added Kyle's brother Brad, 12.That's when the brothers and others on the beach realized something was wrong.

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission placed a white towel under the dolphin and attached it to ropes so volunteers could hold the dolphin upright."It supports them in the water and helps them with 0 gravity," officer Mark Mahoney said. "You gotta keep them wet and keep them from bumping the bottom."Mahoney remembers only one other dolphin stranding in the past year, near Caxambas Pass. In that incident, several dolphins stranded themselves, he said.

Jenny Field of Naples was one of the volunteers who spent more than three hours in the water helping keep the dolphin calm and upright. They were waiting all that time for a St. Petersburg mammal rescue team to drive to Naples and try to save the dolphin.

"We just held him still and talked to him and sang to him," she said. Others stroked and petted the mammal.Wildlife officers say they don't know what caused the beaching. They don't know whether the gashes caused the stranding or the dolphin got the gashes while being stranded. They also don't know if it's a male or female, but believe it's full grown and weighs about 600 pounds.

Workers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Marine Mammal Research Team took the dolphin to St. Petersburg to try to save the creature and learn more about what might have caused the stranding.

Striped dolphin stranded in Oregon

Yet another rarity washed up on the Oregon coast Sunday, after last week’s unusual finds on the shoreline.

Seaside Aquarium manager Keith Chandler said a striped dolphin was found on the beaches of Fort Steven’s State Park, within a mile of the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale.

“It’s rare because these only show up every five years,” Chandler said. “While the white-sided dolphins wash up a little more than once a year.”

A white-sided dolphin washed up north of Seaside last week, as did some rare glass floats from Japan and a very rare Humboldt squid. Stormy seas also brought up rare glass floats in Newport.
Chandler said it’s also unusual that both have showed up in such good condition, as often these corpses are in varying stages of decay. Both dolphins were obviously freshly dead.

The striped dolphin had some bruising on it, which could indicate being trapped by a fishing net or some other physical harm, including post-mortem contact from rolling around the surf.

“Some think the military could be responsible too,” Chandler said. He said exploding charges beneath the ocean could maim or kill these dolphins as well.

The necropsy being performed at Portland State University on both dolphins will be able to tell more. There is no evidence of something killing a lot of dolphins, said Chandler. It’s simply an unusual coincidence.

Porpoises wash up all the time, as they live closer to shore, Chandler said. But the white-sided dolphin and the striped dolphin are pelagic – meaning they are offshore dwellers.

“Striped dolphins are generally a little bigger than the white-sided dolphins, and travel in large schools,” Chandler said. Chandler and the Seaside Aquarium are part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which spots and retrieves stranded sea creatures for Portland State University.

Dolphin rescue did not have a happy ending

The male bottlenose dolphin, which has been nicknamed Marra by locals, has been living in Maryport marina for about a month.

On Friday morning, a two-hour operation to try to rescue the dolphin from the marina using a specially-built 'bubble curtain' was unsuccessful.

Marine experts said they believe the animal is trapped by the design of the marina gates.
Doug Cartlidge, from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said: "We put a high-pressure bubble net behind him. Unfortunately he would rather go back through the bubble net, which frightened him, than go over the lock gate.

"This is the most difficult one we've had because of the environment, because of the gate, and the drop into the water - we have got about a 4 metre drop into the water all the way around the marina."

The dolphin has attracted large crowds to the marina and posters have been put up around the area to remind people they are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act and any harassment is illegal.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A dream come true

Thanks to the Starlight Children's Foundation, Abigail Hooper, who has battled with Rett Syndrome all her life, was given the chance to fly to Florida and swim with her favourite creatures.Abigail flew out to the USA earlier this month for the two-week holiday with parents Mark and Jenny and her younger brothers, Cyle and Callum.Because of the rare genetic disease, which varies in severity and affects one in 10,000 births, Abigail can now communicate using eye movements and gestures only.

Her dedicated mother said the whole holiday was fantastic, not only for Abigail but the whole family.'We could tell by Abigail's face and body language that she was getting so much from it. 'She just loved being away and in the water.'We knew she loved animals and the water and you hear so much about the therapeutic nature of dolphins and their interaction qualities with humans, so that's why we chose it, but it was so true.'The whole holiday was fantastic and I think we were all aware that we were doing and seeing things that we could never have expected to do as a family.'

The 11-year-old had started to show signs of the complex neurological disorder as she grew up but it came like a bolt from the blue to her parents when a geneticist working at Southampton Hospital discovered her medical records and told them that their then nine-year-old daughter had Rett Syndrome.Despite the hurdles, the brave youngster continues to go to school full-time and like most children is happy, sociable and loves animals.'Abigail's life choices will always be made by those around her, but she will still go through the same changes as anybody else growing up but without perhaps the same understanding.'

As well as the day spent by the family at Discovery Cove swimming with dolphins, the Hoopers also on a couple of occasions experienced the other family entertainment available in Florida, including Disney World and Sea World.'We ended up going to Sea World a couple of times because Abigail enjoyed watching the whales and dolphins so much. 'She just loved getting involved with everything around her.'But it was while swimming with dolphins at Discovery Cove, opposite Sea World, that the family were treated like stars for the day.'It was a brilliant day.

They had reserved us our own cabana, which turned out to be our very own prime viewing area. 'The cabana provided you with your own sunbeds, chairs and towels and was surrounded by greenery. It gets let out only to certain people so we felt very privileged and it was perfect if you wanted a bit of time to yourself.'Abigail was one of 10 children nationwide suffering from serious genetic disorders selected by the foundation for a lifetime wish. It coincided with the 10th birthday of the Jeans for Genes appeal.

Mrs Hooper was very grateful to the Rett Syndrome Association UK and Jeans for Genes for putting Abigail's name forward and in turn to the foundation for granting her wish.'Words can't express how much it meant to us all to be able to experience swimming with dolphins with Abigail.'Starlight arranged everything for us in Florida and its staff were always phoning to make sure we were OK.'We are just an ordinary family who will now have fabulous memories to keep forever, just like all the families who have benefited from Starlight.'

Are dolphin watching tours following the rules or not?

An environmental watchdog has had a close eye on a thriving industry on the leeward coast of Oahu

Dolphin tours are extremely popular, but are tour operators following the rules, or are the rules too vague to follow?

Carroll Cox of
EnviroWatch has been monitoring dolphin tour operations for weeks.

He says businesses are consistently crossing the line and he wants to take his concerns to the federal government.

Spinner dolphins take center stage in the shallow waters off Oahu's leeward coast everyday for hundreds of people -- some are even offered the chance to swim with the marine mammals.
"It's a disturbance," says Cox.

Carroll Cox has videotaped dolphin tour operations for several months.

"We see tour boat operators swim with dolphin programs that have developed and evolved here that drive into pods of dolphins that are resting," says Cox. "They're leaving the boat ramps, and Koolina and Waianae with the specific intention of pursuing the dolphins."

Spinner dolphins are protected by federal law from any attempt to hunt, capture, kill or harass.
"The law is already written and in some instances it's vague, but when you're actually driving into a pod of dolphins, there needs to be some abatement of that behavior," says Cox.

He's particularly disturbed by this incident.

"When the dolphins move they then, in some instances, attach the people to a rope and then tow the people back into the pod of the dolphin," says Cox.

"If I stop the engines to pick up one passenger, and we start drifting away from the rest of the passengers, that becomes an unsafe situation. So what we do is go ahead and throw a line out and we start collecting all our passengers," says Victor Lozano,
Dolphin Excursions Hawaii.
"That is clearly a disturbance," says Cox.

Victor Lozano of Dolphins Excursions says businesses do their best to comply with rules and guidelines.

"We try and get together and discuss if we are getting too aggressive amongst each other," says Lozano. "If I see something in that film, I will definitely call the rest of the owners and we have to meet."

Cox plans on filing a formal complaint with the federal government.

"To ask them to look into this and intervene, and there is a need to dedicate more enforcement, manpower or resources than do that. If there was a need to prosecute, do that," says Cox.
The state is asking the federal government for rule changes for the industry, including adopting a no-swim policy and making the 50-yard approach guideline a regulation.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Little dolphin dies in zoo

Harley, the Minnesota Zoo's newest dolphin, died Saturday afternoon after jumping out of his pool and fracturing his head on the concrete deck.

The dolphin calf, which had just turned 7 months of age, apparently panicked in swimming between two back pools at the zoo that have been his home since birth.

Harley — whose name was picked from 10,000 entries last summer in a zoo-sponsored naming contest — had started training Wednesday to go between the east and west back pools through a channel, said Kevin Willis, director of biological programs at the zoo in Apple Valley.

"Things had been going well," Willis said. "He was a real champ."

But on Saturday about 2:45 p.m., the calf had gone from the east "maternity" pool to the west pool with his mother, Rio. Rio returned to the east pool, and as Harley swam toward the channel, he leapt out of the water and landed on the deck.

"We don't know why he did that. He must have panicked," Willis said.

Although he was "pretty scraped up," Harley seemed to be fine, and trainers quickly returned him to the water, Willis said. After a while, Harley stopped coming up for air. Divers were sent in to aid him, but to no avail.

Zoo officials determined Harley had a skull fracture and his lungs were full of blood. His body was taken to the University of Minnesota to be examined.

"There was nothing we could have done," Willis said.

Although Harley was never on display for zoo visitors, he could be seen 24 hours a day on the zoo's webcam. He was born June 21 to Rio, a 33-year-old dolphin who has long been a fixture at the Minnesota Zoo. Rio has had three other offspring — a 3-year-old female named Spree who is at the Minnesota Zoo, and two others who are now housed in other cities.

Traveling between pools is a critical lesson for dolphins at the zoo, and adult dolphins practice this procedure every day. Some zoos start training calves to do this at 2 weeks, but the Minnesota Zoo waits until they are comfortable with their surroundings, said Kelly Lessard, a zoo spokeswoman. The practice allows zoo staff to move animals around and separate them, if need be. Not until Harley had mastered this behavior would he have been sent into the exhibit pool, according to zoo officials.

Although it is very unusual for dolphins to jump out of the pool, this was not the first time Harley had landed on the deck, Willis said. Shortly after he was born, his mother inadvertently flipped him out of the pool as she was passing her placenta, he said.

Harley was a "healthy and strong" 120-pound, 5½-foot-long calf who recently had started eating fish and learning some show behaviors, Willis said. His favorite toys were a plastic bat and water from a hose, and he spent his days swimming with his mother and sister. There are three other dolphins at the zoo.

"The other dolphins seem to be doing well," Willis said. "Of course, we can't talk to them, but they seem to be eating and breathing normally."

The staff was not doing so well, however, he said. Zoo staffers had pulled all-night shifts for months to make sure nothing went wrong during Harley's birth and had grown attached to him.

"This was very hard day for us," Willis said.

Rio's babies

Shadow: Male, born in 1992. Now lives at National Aquarium in Baltimore.

DJ, short for De Janeiro: Male, born in 1996. Now lives at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo.

Spree: Female, born in 2002. Lives at Minnesota Zoo.

Harley: Male, born in June. Died Saturday at Minnesota Zoo.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Shark or dolphin?

How do you know if the large body of the animal near the surface of the water belongs to a shark or a dolphins? How do you know if you should scream for help or enjoy swimming along in the presence of a dolphin, this friendly marine mammal that is so popular amongst the human crowd?

Easily since their body itself is actually giving you the answer. You see, they both have a dorsal fin which can confuse easily people. But the main characteristic is the tail. You see, dolphins have flukes that are both horizontal which means that it will go up and down instead of side to side. Also, when their tail is out of the water, it will not slice the surface like a second fin.

Sharks on the other hand have a vertical tail which means that it goes from side to side and has the appearance of a fin slicing the surface helping any human to identify their threatening presence.
Also, you will notice that often, dolphins, especially while swimming in a pod, tend to jump in and out of the water exposing partially their back and their tail. Sharks tend to swim in a zigzaging manner close to the surface of the water compared to dolphins which will swim in a straight line.

If confusion clouds your mind, never take a chance and just get out of the water. After all, it is preferable to be wrong and later find out that you left the presence of a dolphin compared to be in the presence of a hunting shark.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Dolphin's death raises a lot of questions

A female bottlenose dolphin that was less than a year old died after being entangled in what is believed to be heavy-weight monofilament fishing line, Mote scientists said Friday, Jan. 13.The death highlights concerns about the number of dolphins dying each year from human-related impacts and offers a chance to remind Florida residents and visitors on the best ways to help protect the state's marine animals.

The dead dolphin, nearly 5 feet long and weighing just under 90 pounds, was found floating in the Gulf of Mexico about 1.5 miles off Englewood, in northern Charlotte Harbor, by an angler on Thursday, Jan. 12. He left the animal at the Island Court Bait House and workers there called state officials with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The animal was brought to Mote by the lab's Stranding Investigations Program for a necropsy (an animal autopsy). The cause of death was obvious."The fishing line got wrapped around this dolphin's tail fluke and cut through the skin, blubber and even the bone, making it impossible for the animal to survive," said Mote veterinarian Dr. Deborah Fauquier, deputy manager of the Stranding Investigations Program.

Dolphins use their tails to propel themselves through the water and cannot survive without them.The young dolphin's tail was cut almost completely off at the caudal peduncle (the area of the body just above the tail) and small portions of the skin around the wound showed signs that it was beginning to heal, even as the line continued to cut deeper into the dolphin's skin."The healing means that the line has been there at least several weeks," Fauquier said.

The line around the dolphin's tail had formed a slip knot and as algae and other plant material got caught in it as the dolphin swam, the line dragged, the slip knot continued to tighten, and it cut deeper.According to Mote's vice president of Marine Operations, Pete Hull, the 60-80 lb test line is probably used in offshore fishing for grouper or tarpon. The brittle condition of the line and the amount of attached vegetation suggest that it may have been discarded at sea for some time.This incident was similar to one recorded by Mote in 2000, said Dr. Nélio Barros, manager of the Stranding Investigations Program.

"But in that case, we were called while the young dolphin was still alive and we were able to remove the line that had wrapped around it," he said. "That was a good outcome because we were able to intervene and the animal survived. That was a happy ending. This was not."In that incident, fisheries experts were able to identify the line as 90 pound monofilament. They said at that time that the line likely came from a rod and reel.Between 1985 and 2005, Mote's Stranding Investigations Program recorded 16 dolphin deaths that were related to human interaction - from either fishing gear entanglement or boat strikes.

"And it's likely those numbers don't reflect the full number of dolphins that die in similar incidents," Barros said. "Often, the animals that are brought here for necropsy are too decomposed for us to determine a cause of death. We also know that there are dolphins that die in the wild that no one ever sees or reports, so their causes of death can't be evaluated."The director of Mote's Center for Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Research, Dr. Randall Wells, has studied bottlenose dolphins for 36 years and has seen an increase in human impacts on dolphins over that time."This dolphin's death is especially sad because this animal was otherwise healthy - she was the right size and weight for her age, so it's likely that her mother was doing a good job feeding and protecting her.

This is a female dolphin that could have grown to adulthood and reproduced, thereby helping sustain the population. In Sarasota Bay, we have now documented the existence of five generations of resident dolphins - it's a shame that this one won't be contributing to future generations in the Gulf population."According to Barros, remains of curdled milk were found in the young dolphin's stomach, which indicates that it was nursing from its mother until recently.

Given the condition of her tail, there is no way that the dolphin could have captured fish on its own.The unfortunate death of this animal should help remind people who enjoy spending time on the water of several simple things they can do to keep dolphins safe and healthy."No one wants to harm the very animals they go out on the water to enjoy, so people just need to be vigilant about protecting them," Wells said.Wells offers residents and visitors the following tips:• Check gear.

Check your fishing gear before heading out for the day. Make sure the line is in good shape, that way it won't break easily and end up in the water.• Stow line. Collect ALL used fishing line and any line broken off while fishing and take it back to shore. Once you're off the water, discard line in a secure bin or a state-sponsored monofilament recycling bin so it won't blow back into the water. It's against Florida law to intentionally discard monofilament into area waters because such line can kill or injure marine mammals, birds, sea turtles and fish.

Some area bait shops have recycling bins.• Stay at a safe distance. Remember that it is a federal offense to threaten, harass or feed wild dolphins. Boaters should stay at least 50 yards from wild dolphins while boating or using personal watercraft. If dolphins are "hanging around" where you are fishing, motor slowly and carefully to another spot away from the animals. Stop fishing while dolphins are hanging around. If a dolphin appears as you're ready to release a fish, hold the fish in a livewell until it can be released away from the dolphin.

Anglers without livewells should release the fish as quietly as possible on the opposite side of the boat from where the dolphin is swimming. It is a violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act to feed wild marine mammals.• Call it in. If you see an injured dolphin, marine mammal or sea turtle, contact state wildlife officials. Try to call when you're still in the area where the animal is or try to mark the location of the animal on GPS. Remember to stay a safe distance away from the animal to prevent further injuries.

Small changes but dolphin's feeding continue

It's official, Dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay in Queensland will continue.
Last October Environment Minister Desley Boyle outlawed the practice and warned that anyone caught breaking the rule would be fined.But public pressure forced the Queensland Government to rethink their position and yesterday the Environment Minister admitted she had made a mistake and officially restarted the tradition.

Two dolphins, named Mystique and Patch have been swimming into Tin Can Bay inlet on a daily basis for over two decades to be fed by the public. Tin Can Bay Café owner and dolphin feeding organiser, Troy Anderson, says getting the official word is a big relief."It'll be great to continue and not have to watch over your back for an EPA officer with a set of handcuffs".With the approval comes a new agreement between the organisers and the Environmental Protection Agency, but Troy says the guidelines for feeding the dolphins hasn't changed significantly."90 per cent of them are the same as last time.

There are just a few extra clauses that we wanted and they wanted. So, we sat down before Christmas and had a meeting and went through them and reached a very good compromise".The changes include an extension of feeding hours and requirements on storing fish correctly."We can feed now between 8am and 12pm instead of 8am and 11am, which gives us a little more time if they do come in a little bit later. But the quantity we feed them, the 3kilos remains the same. Like I said, 90 per cent of the guidelines didn't have to change - it was just a matter of clearing up a few little sketchy paragraphs in the last one".

So, has the way you store fish changed? "No nothing, they've always been stored in the freezer and frozen immediately as they're brought in and dated on the bag so they can't be kept for any longer... The agreement use to say 6 weeks but we've got that extended to 10 weeks now. Because the fish can become quite patchy around this time of the year and you have to stock up a bit".Troy says he's modified the feeding methods due to an increase in the number of people wanting to feed the dolphins since the ban."We can have anything up to three hundred people some days.

But we're only allowing 10 people in the water at a time to feed - once those ten come out, another 10 can go in".As part of the agreement Troy will also monitor the dolphins and record when they visit, how long they stay and how much they eat."That's always been in place but now it's official. We can get back to sending that information back to National Parks and Wildlife on a regular basis and hopefully we can do something with that data".

A group of 22 volunteers, Troy says, arrive every morning to store and hand out the fish and to control the crowd in the water and on the boat ramps. "We need to have a fair few people on hand just to keep everything good and happy and to make sure the welfare of the dolphins is put at the front of the line".Troy says the dolphins don't seem to be upset by the recent increase in numbers. "Nothing really bothers them it seems. Not even all the attention.

Lately they just get their fish and go. If there are more people there, all well and good there's more people to look at. "I don't think Patch has missed a day for about 6 weeks now and Mystique is still coming and going as she pleases. So, they're obviously still happy".

Swimming with dolphins, a healing technique!

PEOPLE are travelling across the world to experience the healing benefits of swimming with Bunbury's dolphins.

They are flying from as far as Germany to spend time with the dolphins – and they say it is worth the trip.

Interacting with dolphins has a therapeutic effect and can help children with disabilities and people with depression, say visitors and researchers.

The positive feelings of people who have swam or been in the water with dolphins at Koombana Bay has now been backed up by research.

An Australian researcher, in Bunbury to study dolphin-human interaction, says her ongoing studies have highlighted the positive effects of being with dolphins in the wild.

Patricia Athena said when people have close contact with dolphins they experience increased feelings of vitality and wellbeing.

"People can feel happy, excited, amazed, peaceful, full of love and more relaxed," she said.
"People can move from sadness and heaviness of feelings to joyfulness and lightness of feelings.
"Disabled children here can become more focussed and more relaxed and they sleep better."
Ms Athena said the benefits were more pronounced when people experienced dolphin sonar by being in the water with the mammals.

Carla Henco of Bunbury Dolphin Therapy said being close to dolphins helped many children.
She was currently working with a nine-year-old boy from Germany, whose family is in Bunbury for four weeks especially for the therapy.

Ms Henco said she had another family arriving in the city next month and in the past had worked with people from Japan and Malaysia.

Ms Athena said Bunbury was unique in that it is one of the few places in Australia where people are permitted to mix with wild dolphins.

z A Dolphin Therapy Day will be help at the Dolphin Discovery Centre tomorrow from 8am, beginning with dolphin interactions off the Koombana Bay beach. There will also be a dolphin cruise at 2pm and a presentation of Patricia Athena's research at 4.30pm.

CT Scan for dolphin

In a fish-out-of-water adventure, a 400-pound dolphin was trucked from Brookfield Zoo to Loyola University Medical Center for tests Tuesday evening.

More than two dozen keepers and veterinarians were involved in moving the dolphin -- which is actually a mammal -- so that zoo officials could use the hospital's CT scan machine to check the dolphin's lungs.

At eight-and-a-half-feet long, this was a Loyola visitor bigger than your average outpatient. The female dolphin arrived in the back of a yellow rental truck, escorted by zoo police in a two-and-a-half mile trip from Brookfield to Maywood.

She entered through the loading dock, her whistles and clicks echoed through the hospital's hallways. No one asked for her insurance card.

"How many dolphins have you done?" someone asked CT technician Willie Gandy.
"This is my first,'' he responded.

Fin made for a tight fit

Loyola officials had just one question when the zoo asked to use their machine: Would she fit?
The answer: Kind of -- her dorsal fin proved a bit tricky, but her body entered the CT scan far enough to check a lesion in her lung.

At the zoo, workers wrestled the 12-year-old dolphin, named Kaylee, out of the water and into a sling, then placed her in the truck.

Kaylee's keepers discovered the lesion following an unsuccessful pregnancy that ended with the premature death of Kaylee's calf in October.

Brookfield veterinarian Tom Meehan said the animal likely inhaled something, perhaps food, through her blowhole, causing the lesion. Vets have been treating it with antibiotics.

Last month, the zoo brought Kaylee to Loyola for the first time. The key to a successful hospital visit for the animal was to keep it wet, said Meehan. The workers constantly swabbed the animal with yellow sponges to keep her moist. Meehan said that while the truck was heated, dolphins are highly resistant to temperature change in short time periods because of the thick blubber that envelopes them.

Human doctors not a zoo first

"They don't lose heat through their skin like we do," he said.

The results of the CT scan will be analyzed today.

Meehan said the zoo might have used a portable cat scan but many of those typically available have been sent to New Orleans in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath.

Still, the zoo has consulted health officials in the past whose expertise is more people than critters: dentists have consulted on woodchuck teeth problems and an acupuncturist has helped sooth an aching camel.

Loyola, said Meehan, "has been wonderfully cooperative."

Two hours after Kaylee left Brookfield, she was returned to her pool and enjoyed a fish dinner.

Common dolphin found dead

A common dolphin was found dead near Millway Beach yesterday, but experts think the animal was not linked to a group of 10 dolphins that stranded over the weekend at Rock Harbor in Orleans.

Cape Cod Stranding Network Director Katie Touhey said it was likely that the dolphin found yesterday off George Street had stranded with a group of other dolphins in Wellfleet on Dec. 30, 2005, and was not discovered until the tide pushed it to Barnstable Harbor.

The dolphin had been dead about a week.

Since early December, several mass strandings have kept the stranding network busy .
Nine pilot whales and 24 common dolphins stranded on beaches from Barnstable to Wellfleet after a freak storm blew across Cape Cod Dec. 9, 2005.

Five common dolphins stranded in Wellfleet on Dec. 30, and four were released in Provincetown.
And this weekend, 10 common dolphins stranded at Rock Harbor. Five had to be euthanized.
Necropsy specimens and data from the last stranding have been sent to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

''I think it's going to be a busy season,'' Touhey said of the group strandings. ''I don't think we'll be lucky enough to say this will be the last one of these.''

New guidelines for feeding dolphins are almost complete

The Queensland Environment Minister says new dolphin feeding guidelines at Tin Can Bay are close to being finalised.

Desley Boyle admits she made a mistake last year when she controversially banned dolphin feeding in the south-east Queensland town.

Residents and tourists defied the ban and the decision was overturned.

Ms Boyle says new guidelines have been developed in consultation with the local cafe owners and will cover things like feeding times.

"My understanding is that the new owners are really keen to have this happen in a friendly and quick way, the guidelines are pretty simple and so I'm hopeful that we'll have them in place within the next month," she said.

"The guidelines really are about pretty simple things, about when the feeding can occur, it needs to at regular times, about the kinds of fish that are suitable for dolphins and about obviously the health arrangements around that to make sure that we're not transmitting any viruses or infections to the dolphins."

Sighting of dolphin in Hopkins river

Victoria's Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) believe the sighting of a dolphin in the Hopkins River in Warrnambool, in the state's south-west, could be a first.

A fisherman spotted the mammal in the river close to the Deakin jetty yesterday.

The DSE's Philip Du Guesclin says it is likely the dolphin entered the river chasing fish.

"I think the mouth of the river opened in the past week, so there might be an influx of fish there and it's followed them in," he said.

"It will probably be in there for a day or two, so long as the mouth doesn't close then it will be in there a bit longer and then it will find its way out again."

Monday, January 16, 2006

Slaughtering of dolphins is back!

Only 1.5m long, the young dolphin was found on the Roseland Peninsular, while many others, males and females of all ages, were recorded along the south coast.Every year, the Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Strandings Network carries out the grim task of recording, examining and measuring the carcasses. Maddi Precious, who covers the special 24-hour Strandings Hotline and co-ordinates the strandings volunteers, said, “The phone has not stopped ringing. Distressed members of the public keep calling to tell us of yet more bodies and we send out our dedicated volunteers right away.

It’s been hard to keep up but luckily we have over 120 people trained to do the work and they’re all so willing to help”.The volunteer who attended the young female dolphin said, “It’s much worse when you find a small one like this. At first glance, she looked so perfect. She had died so recently that the seagulls hadn’t attacked her and her eyes were still bright. Apart from a few scratches, and a strange, deep hole under chin, her skin was smooth and perfect, except for the obvious fishing net marks around her beak and on her flippers.

The only good thing to come out this was that because she was so fresh, we were able to take her, and two others, for post mortem examinations. I don’t doubt for a moment that they will confirm that these dolphins died in fishing nets. We see it year, after year, after year.”Joana Doyle, Marine Conservation Officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust commented, “Yet again, the slaughter of dolphins has begun and it is apparent that the ban on pair trawlers fishing within the 12 mile shore limit is not working. After all, as we always said, dolphins feeding outside the area are just as likely to be caught, as they don’t know where the limit is!

And from the evidence we have collected over many, many years, we have proven that it’s not just the bass pair trawlers that are to blame. Inshore gillnet fishing does kill dolphins and most of those killed over the last few days were found around St Austell Bay, where there is an inshore gillnet fishery. We have also recently had a rare Bottlenose dolphin – the one everyone recognises and loves – that showed evidence of being bycaught in this way.Joana continued, “Right now, the UK Government is being criticised by the European Commission for not adequately monitoring how effectively they are protecting our populations of cetaceans - whales, dolphins and porpoises. It is obvious to us that what is needed is an outright ban on fishing methods that kill dolphins in such high numbers.

We urge the public to keep calling us on the 24-hour Marine Strandings Hotline on 0845 201 2626 if they find a dead dolphin, so that we can continue our work to stop this terrible massacre. If we don’t, Cornwall will eventually lose part of its wonderful wildlife heritage and we’ll all be the poorer for it”.Contact:Joana Doyle, Marine Conservation Officer, Cornwall Wildlife Trust01872 273939 Ext 207 or 07812 009381.The Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network is run by a group of dedicated volunteers who record details of dead cetaceans and other marine life, working in partnership with the Institute of Zoology and the Natural History Museum.

No other organisation in the UK is doing this work on such a large scale or has done so over such a long period of time. The information collected is vital in helping to confirm the cause of death and monitor the state of cetacean populations in Cornwall. The Network is entirely voluntary and receives no funding.Under the EU Habitats and Species Directory (1992), all species of dolphins are listed as strictly protected and member states are obliged to establish a system to monitor the incidental capture and killing of all cetaceans and to ensure it does not have a significant negative impact on the species concerned.

Dreaming of training a dolphin? Now you can make your dream a reality!

As Marcella Sertich walked into the Shedd Aquarium early one Saturday, she confided, "I've always wanted to work with dolphins, ever since I was little."Sertich, 24, has a sensible college degree -- business -- and a sensible job, as an administrative assistant. But when she isn't typing memos and answering phones, she dreams of dolphins leaping at her command, tracing perfect arcs against the sky.

Two hours later, as the Hoffman Estates resident balanced on an outcropping in the Shedd's Oceanarium, scrubbing algae off the rocks, she had an epiphany: Dolphin work isn't as romantic as those "Flipper" reruns would have us believe."I actually thought other people took care of the cleaning," she said later.That realization alone may have been worth the $350 Sertich paid to participate in the Shedd's Trainer for a Day program.

She'll still pursue her dream -- she's taking biology courses at a community college -- "but now I know the details of what [trainers] actually do, and how much cleaning and food preparation there is before they actually work with the animals," she says.The 18-month-old program is a hands-on answer to the countless aquarium visitors who wonder what it's like to be a trainer.

It's also one of the more creative initiatives that the city's museums have launched in recent years -- along with sleepovers, day camps and even rock concerts -- to boost their bottom lines.The morning I joined Sertich to try the program, I leapt out of bed long before my alarm sounded the high-decibel wail usually required to awake me for work. This morning, in fact, felt like Christmas: I could hardly wait to fulfill my visions of learning hand signals, helping teach a dolphin a dazzling trick, and tossing a few perch to a hungry beluga whale.

When I arrived at the Shedd at 8:30 with Sertich, though, we received an ominous welcome. "You're going to be doing exactly what a trainer would do on a typical day," said an administrator, ushering me through the employees' entrance. "Only 25 percent of a trainer's time is actually spent with the animals."Uh, oh. This was starting to resemble the Christmas when I opened a beautifully wrapped gift from my mother, only to find, inexplicably, several bottles of shampoo.

Sertich and I were given clothes to change into: elastic-waisted khaki pants, a blue T-shirt and knee-high rubber boots. My reflection in the mirror said, "fire-brigade-trainee-meets-cafeteria-server." The Shedd employee assured me this was standard issue for Shedd trainers."Hello!"I turned and was reassured to see a cheerful young woman dressed exactly like me. It was Lana Vanagasem, whom we would shadow for the next four hours. (The "Trainer for a Day" moniker is a bit of poetic license: The program is actually half a day.)

After introducing herself, Lana described how she nabbed her dream job: a college degree in biology and psychology; an unpaid stint as a Shedd intern, which led to various part-time positions there; and finally, a job as a full-time animal specialist, one step below trainer."It's not just playing with dolphins," she told us of her two years climbing the Shedd ladder. "It's a lot of hard work, also. But it's a lot of fun.

I love it."In no time we had watched a 10-minute video that gave us the basics of marine-mammal training. Not unlike child rearing, training is based on positive reinforcement. Unlike child rearing, however, a whistle and rewards of dead fish are involved.Then we entered the kitchen -- and hit what can only be described as an invisible wall of odoriferous putridity. It was created by squid, pollock, clam and other fishy tidbits -- "all restaurant quality," Lana said -- that were being sorted by a line of trainers and interns to become meals for the Oceanarium's 60-some animals."We go through about 650 pounds of fish a day, maybe more," Lana said.

We could smell every ounce.Our first task was upon us: We rinsed out the stray fish parts from buckets that had been used in a beluga-whale training session. Next we donned rubber gloves and plunged our hands into a box of the half-frozen, clammy, "restaurant-quality" fish, loading the scaly melange into our newly cleansed buckets. Once they were full, we lugged the buckets into a refrigerator, where they sat ready for the next training session.It wasn't quite the transcendent, animal-bonding experience for which I had hoped.

Still, I remained optimistic, following Lana across a gangway toward "Secluded Bay," one of the three areas of the Oceanarium where the animals swim. Under our feet, two dolphins flashed through the blue water."Wow!" Marcella said.As we walked on, two beluga whales popped their heads out of the water. One look at their quirky grins and beseeching eyes and I thought, "These gentle giants are flirting with us!""They're really social," Lana allowed. "They're great about trying to get your attention.

"We watched the end of a beluga whale training session; observed the trainers reviewing the choreography of the ever-popular "Myths and Legends" dolphin show; and waded into the water with long-handle scrub brushes, spending 20 minutes debriding the rocks of algae as the occasional curious dolphin streaked by.During the final hour, Lana instructed us to stand next to trainer Brett Kocanda for the mid-day dolphin presentation. As Enya's "Orinoco Flow" blared from the loudspeakers, dolphins darted back and forth and leapt on cue to the crowd's gasps and applause.

One periodically returned to Brett for a fishy reward.We had learned some hand signals earlier. This was our chance. "OK, 1, 2, 3," Brett prompted. I put my hand straight out, shoulder level, and the dolphin shot out of the water and touched my palm with his nose. Then it rolled on its back at Brett's command."Here, you can feel his heart beat," he said.I placed my palm on the dolphin's white underbelly -- hard, as I'd expected, like rubber.

But the texture of its skin felt strangely silken, as if bathed in luxurious unguents.And as the dolphin's heart beat boldly in my hand -- well, that was, indeed, transcendent.Want to be a trainer for a day?Days: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays year-round.Times: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., or 1:30-5:30 p.m.Fee: $350 ($300 members) per person.To register: Call 312-692-3224.

Dead dolphin discovered on beach

A dolphin has been found dead on a Grand Strand beach.People walking along the beach found the body of the bottle-nosed dolphin Friday evening.North Myrtle Beach animal control officer Jerry Gordon says it is unusual to find dolphins this far north during the winter.

Wildlife biologists plan to study tissue samples from the dolphin to determine how it died.Gordon says the dolphin had no visible injuries and didn't appear to have died from interacting with humans.Another dolphin that had washed ashore near the same area this past fall was wrapped in fishing gear.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Dolphin carcasses...a tearful sight!

THE distressing sight of the carcasses of two dolphins decaying on Tramore beach reduced two young tourists to tears, members of the Town Council were told last week.Cllr. James McCartan told his colleagues that the young girls and their mother had been visiting from Kerry. “They were brought home in tears when they saw the mammals decaying,” he said as he called for a regular clean up of the beach.

Stating that there were regularly dead mammals and birds on the beach, he said that Tramore should be a holiday destination twelve months of the year and not for just six weeks in the summer.Town Clerk, John O’Sullivan said that while sewage pipes were being laid part of the beach was effectively a construction site and it was not possible to go beyond a certain point to clean. He added, however, that in the past if there was something dead on the beach “a person went down with a digger to remove it.”

On the issue of the general appearance of Tramore in recent weeks, the town Mayor, Cllr. Lola O’Sullivan said that in the week after Christmas the Promenade was “fairly littered.” She also said that the bins were overflowing and their contents had been spread around by the crows. “The prom was absolutely filthy on the morning of January 3,” she went on.

The Town Mayor continued by saying that if Tramore was to be portrayed the way it deserved to be there would have to be cleaning all the time and not just in summer.Cllr. Paddy O’Callaghan told his fellow members of the Town Council that people were off-loading their domestic rubbish in the litter bins.Cllr. Ann Marie Power stated that she had received a couple of phone calls about the dirt on the Promenade. Dog fouling concerned Cllr.

Ray Hayden. He said that it was a terrible problem in Tramore and it was almost impossible to walk on footpaths or on the Promenade because of it.

Sad ending for dolphin!

SATURDAY saw the end of the dolphin week. Actually it had been more than a week, more like 10 days in all, counting its first appearance at the salmon shore base beside the Trondra causeway to the Burra bridge.A telephone call from Davy Young, describing the very unusual behaviour of a dolphin, came early one morning after Boxing Day. Within 10 minutes I was at the banks, looking down at a black fin, circling a small buoy near the pontoon beside the salmon boat.

I had seen dolphins before, at a great distance, just making out the fin tips as they rolled up and over, vanishing beneath the water in less than a second. There was then a tense delay, wondering if and where the signal fin would appear again and when.This time the cetacean hadn't been identified and I made a poor job of attempting it. But the main thing was to alert those most involved with sea mammals, to both its presence and its problems.

Divers Mark Davies (left) and Bernie Edwardson (centre) get a helping hand from Michael Johnson to lift a dead white-sided dolphin into a van at the East Voe on Saturday. The juvenile dolphin had been in the area since Boxing Day but did not survive, despite the efforts of some wildlife organisations. The carcase was taken to the fisheries college. Photo: Robert JohnsonThe Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary has great experience with cetacean events, but I could only leave an answerphone message. They must have been out feeding the injured seal brought from Scalloway during the holiday.Neil Anderson, veteran whale watcher next, to establish its identity.

My description was hesitant. I was puzzled by the flattish head. Risso's dolphin was a possibility. I wondered if Neil should come and see the creature for himself, just to be sure.Scottish Natural Heritage next, but the marine wildlife staff were still on holiday, so again, a message was taken, to be passed on to Karen Hall later.There was nothing for it. Neil had to get to the site. A couple of hours later we stood watching the fin again. It was crystal clear; less than a dozen yards from us, appearing at roughly 12 second intervals as the animal circled the buoy, steadfastly clockwise and without deviating from its route.

Neil knew it instantly as a white-sided dolphin. He knew too that it was a young one and that it must be in trouble. Dolphins are family animals. They swim in groups, or "pods", and typically take great care of young ones. This little fellow should not have been alone. I was learning fast.After filming the rising, vanishing and reappearing fin for a few minutes, we left. There wasn't anything we could do anyway. Monitoring the situation was the only option.

And so began a daily routine, which soon had me scrutinising that little dorsal fin each day, for tiny signs of change; was it stiff and straight? Was it floppy and bending a little a at the tip (a sure sign of illness)?The second day saw no change, other than the fact that sometimes the seconds between appearances were shorter than before; eight or nine seconds. Everything else about it was the same. Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary folk were now alerted and came down to see for themselves.Day three of my vigil brought surprises.

The dolphin was varying the circular route, sometimes clockwise, sometimes anti clockwise. On a few circuits it broke away and popped up nearer the shore, or occasionally closer to the boat. Day four saw more deviations from its former regular pattern of swimming. Was the creature feeding? Were there changes in its condition? Was it a good sign or a bad one? Was it feeling better, or getting desperate? There was no way of knowing.Jan Bevington from the sanctuary was getting concerned about the profile of the dolphin's back. My learning curve steepened.

A convex profile apparently indicates a good, tight body shape, with plenty of lifesaving layers of insulating blubber under the skin. Once the creature gets weak, the body fat begins to be used up and the profile sags. Blubber layers are thinner. Cold reaches the inner organs and this can be dangerous.It was decided to try feeding the dolphin. The wildlife sanctuary has emergency stocks of frozen fish, ready for injured seals, otters, etc. A bucketful was thawed out and day four saw me filming the hurling of one fish after another ahead of the dolphin each time it surfaced.

We waited.After a while, we noticed a marked change in the swimming pattern. There were swirls in the water, directly above places where fish had dropped. The intervals between the breaches lengthened. Eighteen, 20, even 23 seconds. We were elated by the apparent response.Until now, the rise and fall of the dorsal fin had been leisurely; maybe even sluggish. Suddenly the appearances were more purposeful and energetic.

Twenty fish flew through the air and splashed into the water. Seagulls were being attracted and were screaming overhead.We emptied the bucket and stood waiting for one last breach, then one more last breach, when the fin tip appeared quite close to the pontoon, but for once it didn't roll out of sight. We watched in puzzlement as it remained in one place, then we gasped aloud. The fin set off, cutting the water sharply and it accelerated like a rocket, flying through, with sea water streaming back from its tip.

Suddenly the fin vanished and a dark swirl of glassy smooth water rose among the waves. It must have been scanning the seabed and suddenly had sighted the silver glint of a fish and gone straight for it. There couldn't have been any other explanation. .Last Friday the media had become interested and a filming session had been planned with a small bairns' wildlife group in Burra. Fish, cameras and people were scheduled for 1.30pm.

At 11am I took a friend to the site to check on the dolphin's condition. It had gone. What timing. Panic phone call, alerting all parties, then a real surprise. A message to say that the dolphin was in East Voe, near the marina.A smaller group assembled and sure enough, after a search, there it was, rising, dipping and rising again, just as before. But that concave profile was even more marked. The dolphin must have benefited from the feed, felt strong enough to be on its way, then relapsed. More fish flew through the air, landing in just the right place.

People gathered to watch; willing the animal to recover.The film crew arrived, but decided that there was just not enough dolphin above water for long enough to warrant a film. Mixed feelings about that, to say the least. After all, this was a wild dolphin, not a Florida cetacean prisoner, feeding on demand.Saturday brought the long expected, but much dreaded news; a dead dolphin, washed up on the shore only yards from where we last saw it. An inevitable sadness descends after something you have been willing to live, just can't manage it.

Is swimming with dolphins really a good idea?

Every day, people take boat tours in Hawaii to swim with the spinner dolphins, which are named for their above-water acrobatics.

Before my family's most recent trip to Oahu, I made reservations with Wild Side Specialty Tours, which advertised that it brings along a naturalist and limits the number of passengers on its boat; though the boat can carry 38 people, tours consist of 16 passengers. Thus one morning last August, my husband, Darryl, and I woke our two daughters at 5:30 a.m., drove to Waianae Harbor on Oahu's leeward coast and boarded Wild Side's 42-foot catamaran, the Island Spirit, to fulfill my fantasy.

We were looking for spinner dolphins, which, the crew explained, are smaller than the bottlenose variety seen on "Flipper" or in most aquarium shows and can often be found in predator-free, sandy-bottomed bays during the day. There they kick back and relax, maybe engage in a little of the activity that gives them their name (spinning leaps out of the water), before resting up for another night of hunting.

Soon, the captain got a radio message that dolphins had been spied near a power plant. As we drew closer, we were given instructions: Swim with the dolphins, not at the dolphins; don't touch them; don't splash around too much.

I didn't know it then, but some people consider swimming with wild dolphins as bad as swimming with captive ones, if not worse. In fact, swimming with wild dolphins could be considered illegal.

The 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits any "taking" of marine mammals; i.e., to "harass, hunt, capture, or kill." "Level B harassment" was later defined in the act as "any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which . . . has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns."

While the research is ongoing, some experts believe that when humans come to the spinners' resting grounds, they could change the dolphins' behavior and perhaps endanger them. The spinners go to those areas "for a purpose, and that's because they need to rest," said Peter Young, who heads Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources.

If the dolphins don't get adequate downtime, that could make it more difficult for them to fish and to avoid predators at night, Young explained.

"There are some initial studies that have shown some changes in the behavior of the dolphins," said Chris Yates, marine mammal branch chief for the Hawaiian division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We're very concerned about the impact that these programs are having both on the individual dolphins themselves and on the dolphin population as a whole." (Young is worried about the impact on humans, as well; in 2003 a man swimming with dolphins off Oahu lost part of his foot to a shark.)

According to Trevor Spradlin, a marine mammal biologist with NOAA Fisheries in Silver Spring, Md., dolphin-swim tours cross the line "and go from passive observation and learning to interaction and disturbance." He compares the tours unfavorably with safaris, where humans observe from a distance.

"Nobody would think to get out of the safari vehicle and pet the zebras," he said.

The state doesn't have jurisdiction to ban the dolphin swims, though it can regulate commercial permits for boats that launch from harbors and ramps.

NOAA Fisheries' guidelines for observing Hawaiian marine mammals state that humans should stay 50 yards from the animals — a distance that would make swimming with them impossible. These are guidelines, however, not law. Furthermore, while many tour operators simply aren't adhering to them, many tourists are unfamiliar with them. Unless they go to NOAA's Web site and look up the guidelines — www.nmfs.noaa .gov/pr/MMWatch/hawaii.htm — it is difficult for visitors to Hawaii to know that anyone thinks poorly of the practice of swimming with wild dolphins.

At this point most tourists are likely to be as clueless as I was. Selfishly, and in retrospect, I realize that ignorance was, truly, bliss.

The captain's radio source was correct. In the distance, we could see a couple of boats, and silver flashes in the water.

The first thing I noticed when I put my head underwater was a funny noise. Maybe it was air escaping from my mask? Then I realized that the otherworldly clicks and whistles were coming from the dolphins.

I raised my head to see dolphins all over the place. As the crew, which had a better vantage point, yelled directions from the boat, "On your right!" "Look below you!" (and once, "Don't cut them off!" to an overeager group of swimmers), we gazed around, amazed at the zooming, twirling, somersaulting creatures.

The spinners are about 5 feet long and 150 pounds. They have sharper snouts than bottlenose dolphins and plumpish bodies that, though barely seeming to undulate, are very difficult to keep up with.

Twice we got ourselves in position exactly right and joined a pod of 10 or so dolphins, swimming in formation with them, feeling almost as smooth and as graceful as they were.

After a while the dolphins, who appeared to be paying no attention to us whatsoever, moved on to cavort in another part of the bay.

It didn't occur to us at the time that our short encounter disrupted the dolphins. They were clearly in a frolicsome mood when we got there, and we didn't try to touch or feed them. I can well imagine, though, that a visit later in the day would be unwelcome, that too many people in the water could be disruptive, that visits day after day would be wearing, and that some people — there are always a few — might try to touch or feed them.

Even Cullins, as owner of Wild Side, is rethinking the practice. "I don't think swimming with them in itself harasses them," she told me several months after our trip. "I think it's the quantity of the people out there and the way they're doing it."

Last month, NOAA Fisheries published an "Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making" requesting input from the public on the spinner-dolphin swim tours. It is perhaps the first step in restricting or explicitly outlawing them in Hawaii.

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't go on another wild-dolphin swim. I'll wait to see how NOAA's regulatory process plays out. But this is one Flipper-turned-spinner fan who can't help but hope that the agency will find some way — perhaps on a severely restricted basis — to allow the fantasies-come-true to continue.

If dolphin watchers really care they should beware...

The bottlenose dolphin has been attracting attention since it appeared in Maryport harbour a few weeks ago.

Now posters are going up around the area to remind people they are a protected species and not to throw food or other items into the water.

They are also concerned someone could slip and fall into the water.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has teamed up with the RSPCA's maritime division to put posters up around the area urging people to think of the dolphin's welfare and warning them to take care.

Agency deputy station officer Elizabeth Dicken said items like pork pies, cans of lager and footballs had been thrown into the water.

Condition monitored

She said they were also concerned about the safety of people who might get too close to the edge.

She said: "We are saying go and observe it but don't throw anything in the water or at the dolphin.
"Just enjoy watching it and don't go over the barriers. It has been a good attraction for Maryport."
The condition of the dolphin is being monitored to check it is all right.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Female dolphin captured!

A nearly nine-year old female dolphin was captured from Naikanchandi gorge near Tentuligaon today by a dolphin expert Dr Sandeep Behera and translocated it to the Panchaputuli gorge of river Budhabalanga immediately.

Mr Behera, popularly known as the ''Dolphin man'' world over, has currently been working as the Co-ordinator of the WWF-India sponsored Dolphin Project.

He said the translocation of the dolphin at the Panchaputuli gorge, about fifty kilometers downstream of Budhabalanga river, as the gorge might dry up during the summer.

Mr Behera said the dolphin measuring 5'-3'' in length and 150 kgs in weight was quite stout and healthy.

The dolphin expert identified it as a 'Ganges river' dolphin (Scientific name--platanispa gangetica) and opined that it might have entered the Budhabalanga river from its habitat in Hooghly river through the Chandipur-on-sea route.

Simlipal Tiger Reserve Field Director Debabrata Swain said the dolphin expert was requested to visit the site where it was seen in the river and translocate in a suitable habitat.

Meanwhile, Dr Behera said he had conceived a dolphin project in the state and would soon launch a survey on the existence of dolphin in at least twenty major rivers in the state.

Dolphin rescued from shallow waters

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) experts on Sunday rescued a dolphin trapped in shallow waters in the Budhabalanga river.

The female dolphin was put in a specially made container and taken in a truck to Panchaputali, 22 km downstream of the river, where it was released in the deep waters, Debrabrata Swain, field director, Similipal Tiger Project, told PTI here.

The dolphin, measuring 5.3 feet and weighing 100 kg, was in the breeding mould.

Swain said it was not uncommon to find Gangetic dolphins in rivers. In fact, two dolphins had been sighted for the first time in Budhabalanga river at Kudimunda a few days ago.

Calf need prosthetic tail due to accidental injury

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is looking to heal an injured dolphin by obtaining an artificial tail for it. Rescuers found a three-month-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin after it became stuck in a blue crab trap. With the flow of blood cut off, the dolphin's damaged tail flukes fell off after she was freed on December 10th.

Now, the dolphin named Winter may be getting a new prosthetic tail to replace the damaged one. The aquarium is putting out feelers to universities, but the dolphin's tail still needs to heal before a prothesis could be designed or attached. Scientists say other dolphins have received artificial tails. One was in Hawaii. The other was a 500-pound dolphin in Japan named Fuji.

The planned procedures to heal Winter could cost as much as $100,000.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Wedding to dolphin...just a joke?

A WOMAN who made headlines around the world when she "married a dolphin" says the incident was just a bit of fun.Dolphin lover Sharon Tendler, of Redbridge Lane East, Redbridge, said she took part in the bizarre wedding ceremony with a 35-year-old male dolphin called Cindy, as "a fun thing for me and my friends" after one of them joked about her being single at the age of 41.

She was on holiday at the Israeli beach resort of Eilat last week when she asked Cindy's trainer Maya Zilber for the dolphin's flipper in marriage."I have been going there for 15 years and I said'I am going to end up marrying Cindy.' "It was a bit of fun."

Dolphins on the move!

Marine Life Oceanarium has received the permits it needs to move 17 dolphins to an exclusive resort in the Bahamas.

David Lion, newly appointed president of Marine Life and Marine Animal Productions, the company that owns the dolphins, confirmed the information Tuesday. The announcement comes a day after longtime Marine Life veterinarian Connie Chevis resigned her post.

Lion declined to say when and how the dolphins, famous for performing at the Gulfport oceanarium, will be moved.

According to Lion, Chevis left because she "felt her role with MAP was redundant with the many other fine doctors we have on board to look after the animals."

Animal lovers question captivity dolphin program

Opponents of the captive dolphin programme have stated rather clearly that there is a real danger of dolphin waste negatively impacting the reef in the area.

I would like to see the Department of Environment establish a base line level of reef quality now prior to the opening of the captive dolphin programme to determine any future damage which could occur from this facility over time.

If like many opponents have stated that reef damage does occur then I would like to see the owners of the dolphin programme held liable for the damage and clean up.

I want to make it clear that I don’t want any damage or clean up passed on to government. It is the responsibility of the principles of the captive dolphin program and if they are unwilling to accept this responsibility then government should revoke dolphin import permits.

The reef area around the turtle farm is now in very good condition and its decline should not be tolerated.

Pollution endangers river dolphin specie!

AMID the impenetrable maze of tidal creeks and channels between India and Bangladesh, children shriek with delight as grey snouts emerge from the silty waters. “Susu,” they cry, mimicking the noise the freshwater dolphins make as they surface for air — but their joy may be shortlived.
Researchers say that the Gangetic dolphin, declared one of the world’s first protected species more than 2,000 years ago, during the reign of Emperor Ashoka (265-232BC), has already become extinct in the main tributaries of the Ganges river system.

According to a study by the WWF, formerly the World Wide Fund for Nature, the freshwater dolphin population in the Ganges has shrunk from 6,000 in the early 1990s to 1,500 in 2005, with a complete absence in some tributaries.

The Ganges drainage area is home to about a tenth of the world’s human population and suffers enormous demand for its resources.

A growing threat to the dolphin population has been the extensive damming of rivers for irrigation and electricity generation, which isolates family groups and prevents seasonal migration. Pollution of the Ganges has also become so bad in parts that bathing in and drinking its water has become extremely hazardous for much of its 2,500- kilometre (1,550-mile) stretch from the Himalayan foothills to the Bay of Bengal. Equally troubling is the increased hunting of the dolphins for oil, fish bait and food by local people.

According to R. K. Sinha, head of the zoology department at Patna University, who has been studying the mammals for a decade, the dolphins will disappear unless urgent steps are taken to clean up the river. “They are facing extinction,” he said. “Their falling numbers show they will soon disappear from the Ganges altogether. Our researchers estimate the dolphin population across India to be a little over 1,500 and the numbers have dropped drastically over the past decade. The river is highly polluted by the time it reaches Patna, some 1,700 kilometres downstream from its source. Fishermen are known to kill dolphins to use their fat to prepare fish bait. They also net them and slit them open to drain their oil, which is sold locally to cure joint pains.”

The Gangetic dolphin is one of only four freshwater species in the world. The other three are found in the Yangtze river, in China, the Indus, in Pakistan, and the Amazon and Plata rivers, in South America. According to the WWF, all four are in trouble.

In one stretch of the Ganges, however, there is some hope as the number of dolphins has nearly doubled, from 22 to 42, in the past decade. Sandeep Behera, the head of the local protection programme, said that a ban on fishing and environmental degradation on a stretch of the river 200 kilometres southeast of Delhi had helped to replenish stocks.

“The worst threat is pollution, the second is fishing activity and the third is habitat degradation,” he said. “In this particular stretch, however, we have overcome the threat of fishing activity as the local government has banned commercial fishing and sand-mining activities along the banks. We have also worked closely with religious leaders, who in turn work with us to motivate the local people, reinforcing the holy nature of the Ganges in our religion.”


The South Asian river dolphin (platanista gangetia) is found in the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Meghna, Karnaphuli and Hugli river systems

The water is so muddy that vision is useless. River dolphins are blind

They use a sophisticated echo-location system to navigate and find food

The dolphin ranges from 2.3 to 2.6 metres in length and can live 25 years

They eat shrimp and fish from the river bottoms

Found only in fresh water, they migrate to tidal waters during the monsoon season

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Common dolphin beached then euthanized

Volunteers and staff members of the Cape Cod Stranding Network were busy on the final weekend of 2005, as they've been all year.

Yesterday, network members euthanized a common dolphin discovered by volunteers on Lieutenants Island, according to network coordinator Kristen Patchett.

''When we arrived, the dolphin was showing signs of being in shock. We ended up euthanizing the animal at about noon,'' she said.

Patchett said the dolphin was likely part of the same group of dolphins that had beached themselves at Mayo Beach on Friday afternoon.

Those four dolphins, she said, were not in shock and appeared to be relatively healthy when they were found.

The dolphins were transported on a flatbed truck to Provincetown, where their dorsal fins were tagged with an orange marker before they were released at Herring Cove.

The five dolphin strandings over the weekend, Patchett said, capped off a busy year. The Cape Cod area averages about 205 strandings year - from whales to dolphins.

This year network members were called to 315 strandings, Pachett said.

Though stranded sea animals can give scientists a sense of the health of the ocean, Patchett said strandings are common occurrences on the Cape going back thousands of years, and yesterday's strandings should not necessarily be seen as a cause for alarm.

However, Patchett said, ''if people find stranded marine mammals on the beach, they should not try to return them to the water but call our hotline.''

Harm can be unvoluntarily caused by dolphins lovers to these beloved marine mammals

IT'S an increasingly common summer sight: scores of holidaymakers piling into tour boats to watch dolphins cavorting in NSW's bays and inlets.

But research has found dolphin-loving Australian tourists may be harming the very objects of their affection, by robbing them of opportunities to socialise, forage, raise young and rest.

The international study, presented at a conference before Christmas, suggests too many tour boats can reduce the number of dolphins using a waterway and can lower the reproductive success of the animals that remain.

It has prompted calls for restrictions on the number of operators and tours in dolphin hotspots and a licensing system to ensure boats do the right thing.

But the tourism industry at the state's most popular dolphin viewing location at Port Stephens has questioned the impact humans have, saying there is no evidence local numbers of the marine mammals are waning or that they are under stress.

Lars Bejder, a researcher with Canada's Dalhousie University, studied the impact of tourism on resident dolphins in Shark Bay in Western Australia.

He presented the results of his research to the Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in San Diego last month.

Dr Bejder said the study looked at the number of Pacific bottlenose dolphins in part of the bay over almost 14 years as the number of tour boats went from zero to one and then two.

The introduction of one tour operator in the area had no detectable impact on the number of dolphins.

But his study found that, in 4 years after the number of operators increased from one to two, there was a fall of nearly 15 per cent in the number of dolphins in the study area.

His research also suggested tourism had an impact on the number of young dolphins being born and surviving.

The more time female dolphins spent in contact with tour vessels, the less likely they were to be able to successfully rear young.

"Tourism activity was likely to be the more significant contributor to the decline in numbers and . . . the reduced reproductive success of females," he wrote.

In his findings, he warned a similar trend would devastate the dolphin population at locations such as Port Stephens.

He said West Australian wildlife authorities were considering his findings and he hoped they would take action to protect the dolphins.

Master's degree research by marine scientist Simon Allen has previously shown Port Stephens dolphins changed their behaviour and group structure when approached by tour boats.

The area has about 80 resident dolphins, which are viewed by more than 250,000 tourists each year, ferried by nine permanent and up to six occasional tour boat operators.

"If the tourism industry in Port Stephens is not managed very carefully, we may end up with 15 boats watching the same 30 dolphins," he said.

With the State Government two months ago declaring Port Stephens part of a marine park, Mr Allen wants a licensing system for operators, limits on the number of interactions each day by tours and no-go zones for boats.

However, Port Stephens tour operators believed dolphins in the area were already coping well with tourism.

Frank Future, a long-standing tourism operator and member of the Port Stephens Commercial Dolphin Watching Association, said tour boats maintained a respectful distance from the animals.
"The population seems to be quite steady," he said. "There hasn't been any diseases that might come from a breakdown in their immune system [indicating stress]."

But he agreed a cap on operators could prevent overtaxing the animals and ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

"The whole town feeds off them. They are an iconic attraction."

The area has about 80 resident dolphins, which are viewed by more than 250,000 tourists each year, ferried by nine permanent and up to six occasional tour boat operators.

"If the tourism industry in Port Stephens is not managed very carefully, we may end up with 15 boats watching the same 30 dolphins," he said.

With the State Government two months ago declaring Port Stephens part of a marine park, Mr Allen wants a licensing system for operators, limits on the number of interactions each day by tours and no-go zones for boats.

However, Port Stephens tour operators believed dolphins in the area were already coping well with tourism.

Frank Future, a long-standing tourism operator and member of the Port Stephens Commercial Dolphin Watching Association, said tour boats maintained a respectful distance from the animals.
"The population seems to be quite steady," he said. "There hasn't been any diseases that might come from a breakdown in their immune system [indicating stress]."

But he agreed a cap on operators could prevent overtaxing the animals and ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

"The whole town feeds off them. They are an iconic attraction."

Trying to make feeding dolphins an accessible activity to disabled people

Dolphin feeding volunteers at Tin Can Bay in south-east Queensland have applied to the Cooloola Council for money for a special floating chair to allow disabled people to participate in the activity.
The number of people wanting to feed the dolphins has more than doubled since an advertising campaign began in November.

Cooloola Regional Development Bureau spokesman Brian Arnold says he would also like to eventually see a "lift" installed to allow severely disabled people to feed the animals.

"The dolphins are very well aware of the disability and act completely different," he said.

"It's very interesting and I've seen people with tears in their eyes, interacting with people like that.
"So from the Cooloola Regional Development Bureau's point of view, it's something that we must work towards and get to as fast as we can."

Dolphins and the law

Marine Animal Productions, the company that owns the Marine Life Oceanarium dolphins, is working with U.S. and Bahamian agencies to move them to an exclusive island resort.

Meanwhile, a Harrison County Chancery Court order prohibits MAP from selling its assets, including the dolphins. MAP has asked the court to lift the temporary order. No hearing date has been scheduled. The case has been assigned to Judge James H.C. Thomas Jr. of Hattiesburg; the four Harrison County chancellors recused themselves.

Some Gulf Coast residents and former Marine Life employees are concerned that MAP is trying to circumvent the system ahead of the court's ruling.

Workers for Marine Animal Productions and its new president, David Lion, have been stationed at the three locations temporarily housing Gulfport's dolphins in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with all the equipment necessary to move them, according to a trainer for Marine Life and to Rusty Walker, founder of Save Our Dolphins, a group trying to keep the dolphins in Gulfport.

Lion said Wednesday people from Atlantis resort are on the Coast "to familiarize themselves with the animals." The holding locations for the dolphins are the Naval Construction Battalion Center and sites in Florida and New Jersey.

The dolphins' fate is at the center of a lawsuit between the two owners of MAP, Donald P. Jacobs and Dr. Moby Solangi, former president of Marine Life. The suit involves a dispute over the percentage of Solangi's stock ownership and the animals' future.

Walker said Lion is trying to move the dolphins soon on a "temporary permit" from federal agencies to an environment with specialized marine care because some are sick with Morbillivirus, even though the virus, according to Walker, has never appeared in the Atlantic Ocean and the arrival of Gulfport's dolphins could introduce the disease.

"Once they are taken out of the country we're not sure the courts would have any jurisdiction," Walker said, adding he believes the move is about money and not the animals' welfare. "The current management at MAP has no apparent experience in marine mammal care and yet they seem to be making animal-care decisions."

Thirteen of the 18 dolphins were originally supposed to go to the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys until the Gulfport oceanarium was rebuilt, said Kimberly Perron, spokeswoman for the DRC.

"We opened our home as we always do," Perron said. "We were ready and willing but MAP has made a more permanent home in Atlantis. That would be wonderful for the dolphins."

Perron said keeping the pod together - which would happen if they went to Atlantis - would be ideal and was something the DRC is incapable of doing.

Lion said MAP has looked at several options for housing the dolphins.

"We found the very best option for all the dolphins was, hands down, Atlantis, Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas," he said.

Like Walker and other concerned citizens, Solangi's lawyer in the civil action questions whether MAP's agreement with Kerzner International, the owner of Atlantis, is legal.

"We contend that it's not legal because MAP appointed David Lion as president," said Beau Stewart on Wednesday. "That action is not legal, as we see it. The people who are running MAP and Marine Life right now aren't really the president so this agreement, we contend, the agreement (between MAP and the owner of Atlantis) isn't valid."

Dolphin's bride is...a woman!

An unusual wedding ceremony was held in the southern resort town of Eilat on Wednesday, as Sharon Tendler, a 41-years-old Jewish millionaire from London married her beloved Cindy, a 35-years-old dolphin, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday.

The groom, a resident of the Eilat dolphin reef, met Tendler 15 years ago, when she first visited the resort. The British rock concert producer took a liking to the dolphin and has made a habit of traveling to Eilat two or three times a year and spending time with her underwater sweetheart.

"The peace and tranquility underwater, and his love, would calm me down," the excited bride said after the wedding.

After a years-long romance, Tendler decided to embark on the highly unusual path of tying the knot with her beloved dolphin. Last week, she approached Cindy's trainer Maya Zilber with the extraordinary request.

Zilber accepted the challenge and "talked the idea over with the fellow," who apparently consented.

'I'm not a pervert'

And so on Wednesday afternoon, the thrilled bride, wearing a white dress, walked down the dock before hundreds of astounded visitors and kneeled down before her groom, who was waiting in the water.

Cindy, escorted by his fellow best-men dolphins, swam over to Tendler and she hugged him, whispered sweet nothings in his ear, and kissed him in front of the cheering crowd.

After the ceremony was sealed with some mackerels, Tendler was tossed into the water by her friends so that she could swim with her new husband.

"I'm the happiest girl on earth," the bride said as she chocked back tears of emotion. "I made a dream come true, and I am not a pervert," she stressed.

Tendler said she and her newly wed husband will probably spend their wedding night bowling.
"But what kind of children would they have?" one of the children in the crowd asked his father.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"