Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dolphin safe tuna, a great initiative!

SOLOMON Islands single fish exporter, Soltai Company is included on a leading environmental organisation’s list of verified “Dolphin Safe” tuna companies in the world.A senior figure in the company confirmed this positive indication to Solomon Star yesterday.

The Soltai official said the company is aware of the negative implications that are likely to affect its canned tuna export overseas if it is unwilling to abide by global environmental requirements.

American-based Earth Island Institute, a leading protector of mammals in the world has successfully entered agreements with more than 300 tuna companies’ world wide, including Soltai.The agreement means that “dolphin safe labels” will soon be introduced on canned tuna products destined to overseas markets.“We will soon give accreditation to the dolphin safe label on our tuna products that will soon hit the European market,” the official said.

He said European consumers are very sensitive on environmental issues and that requirement must not be avoided.“We see this as a very useful marketing tool to sell our products.“It is an advantage to draw more consumers because they would certainly know that our company is complying with safe environmental rules,” the official said.He said the requirement is agreed upon because the company has just signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Tri Marine International, an American company that will soon help Soltai export its tuna products to the European market.“We don’t want to be left out.“

Although it may seem unnecessary, it is a useful marketing tool,” he said.Soltai has remained silent on the dolphin issue, but the company said it is happy with the government for addressing the controversial exporting of dolphins, which sparked international uproar two years ago.“The dolphin issue is not our main problem, it’s a government issue.“

We do not tell the government to stop dolphin exports.“But we are happy that there are no more problems hanging on us to export tuna products overseas,” he said.Earth Island’s unique International Monitoring Program maintains 12 staff members in seven countries around the world, who regularly inspect tuna in canneries, at dockside, and on board fishing vessels in order to assure consumers that the tuna they buy is truly “dolphin safe” Mark Berman of Earth Island Institute who was in Honiara last week said this is the largest private environmental monitoring program in the world.

“We maintain agreements with more than 300 tuna companies around the world, including all major tuna processors.“These agreements pledge tuna companies to abide by the Earth Island international ‘dolphin safe’ tuna standards of no encirclement of dolphins or other marine mammals during an entire fishing trip, no accidental deaths or serious injuries of any dolphins, and no use of drift gill nets,” Mr Berman said.He said the definition of “dolphin-safe” tuna is the most scientifically sound and the most widely accepted standard for protection of dolphins and marine life.

Dolphin Center proved more than expected!

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries V. Alfred Gray said on Monday that Kerzner International’s new dolphin facility at Atlantis has exceeded the government’s expectations.Following Hurricane Katrina, the dolphins were temporarily housed in various marine facilities throughout the eastern United States and last month arrived safety at their new home at Atlantis.

Minister responsible for fisheries, V. Alfred Gray, paid the dolphins a visit on Monday and noted that the temporary mammal facility, located on the site of the old Club Med, exceeds the government’s expectations.

Minister Gray explained that the visit was necessary to ensure that the government’s expectations were met.

"The government had a certain standard which it set by legislation and by regulations and those were put out to Sol Kerzner to ensure that against the background of the criticisms, which were being levied against the government allowing the import…that whatever the requirements were, Sol Kerzner was willing to meet them and in whatever circumstance could exceed them," he said.

"I am delighted to have taken this opportunity to see for myself what is going on here because it is important that The Bahamas, particularly those people who were against the importation of these dolphins, get to see the high standards that are being enforced here at the facility," he said.

"Having seen what I have already – the medical facility, the feeding facility and indeed the habitat where the animals are kept – I am satisfied that this definitely meets and certainly in certain aspects exceeds the expectations that we had for the facility here."

Teri Corbett, vice president of Marine Mammal Operations at Kerzner International, said that given the trauma the Atlantic Bottleneck dolphins experienced during Hurricane Katrina, the goal is to now provide them with a stable environment.

"We hope to become a beach animal and rehabilitation network for The Bahamas," Ms. Corbett said.

"It will be the first of its kind for the country and it will allow us to go out and rescue animals that might be in medical need to examine, rehabilitate and release them back into the wild."

Ms. Corbett, a veteran marine mammal trainer and water and team parks specialist with more than 18 years’ experience, said there is a possibility that more dolphins could be secured for the new mammal facility when it opens next year as part of the Atlantis Phase III expansion.

"Our facility is made to house many animals so we hope to get more," she said.

Chief Marine Officer Frank Muru said that the transport of the Katrina dolphins to Atlantis completes the rescue operation that had been underway for several months.

"We realize that these animals have become a symbol of hope and recovery in the coastal Mississippi area," Mr. Muru said.

The permanent habitat, an 11- acre lagoon currently under construction, will contain three interactive coves in a tropical setting, complete with sandy beaches.

Kerzner officials say 250,000 gallons of crystal clear seawater, more than 10 times the amount required under U.S regulations, will fill the interconnected resident pools. A permanent medical pool and six additional pools will be available for examinations and quarantine, should the need arise.


The Atlantis Dolphin Acclimation Habitat is located along Nassau Harbour. It contains over 1.5 million gallons of natural crystal clear seawater. The entire acclimation habitat is larger than a football field.

The habitat contains three large lagoons, six holding pools and two medical pools that have lifting floors that assist the marine mammal specialists and veterinarians to better care of the dolphins.
The habitat measures 9 feet deep and also features gradual slopes that level off into sandy beaches.

Natural currents flow through the habitat continuously, thus supplying the dolphins with clean, fresh water all the time.

Over 45 marine mammal specialists care for the animals and interact with the dolphins around the clock.

The water temperature is ideal for the dolphins – ranging from 72 to 83 degrees.

Over 80 percent of the marine mammal staff are Bahamian. This will ensure the dolphins get plenty Bahamian love and care.

Over 45 marine mammal specialists care for the animals and interact with them around the clock.
The dolphins are fed a nutritious diet of herring and caplan, enriched with multi-vitamins. Together the dolphins will eat over 400 pounds of high quality fish per day.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A whale and dolphin research project has begun

A team from the Environment Society of Oman’s (ESO) Whale and Dolphin Research project has begun a month-long field survey of the Gulf of Masirah and surrounding waters. One of the team’s objectives is to collect more data on humpback whales to further the understanding of their habits and behaviour.

Data from illegal whaling expeditions in the mid-1960s revealed that humpback whales both feed and breed in the Arabian Sea. Humpback whales throughout the world undertake long seasonal migrations between polar feeding areas and tropical breeding areas.

The humpback whales found in Oman are genuinely ‘Arabic’ and recent work has shown that there may even be genetic and behavioural differences between these whales and other populations.

The ESO research will seek to determine conservation efforts needed to maintain this population for the future and to preserve it as another unique aspect of the Sultanate of Oman’s natural heritage, thus encouraging tourism, an ESO spokesman said.

ESO is a non-profit team of Omani and expatriate volunteer scientists who actively research and promote awareness of whales and dolphins found within Oman’s waters.

Dolphin park accused of mistreating dolphins

The operator of a controversial dolphin park in the Solomon Islands has rejected claims by US animal liberation activists that his animals are starving and dehydrated.

Canadian Chris Porter, who runs the park on Gavetu Island, said a recent cyclone that hit the Solomons had reduced fish supplies for his dolphins but things were now back to normal and they were in professional care.

Ric O'Barry, the former trainer of 1970s television star Flipper now with animal protection group One Voice, last week joined Mark Berman of the environmental group the Earth Island Institute to urge the government to take over the park where they say 20 dolphins were starving and dehydrated.

The export of 28 Bottlenose Dolphins from the park to Mexico in July 2004 sparked international outrage and prompted the Australian and New Zealand governments to urge the Solomons to ban live dolphin exports.

The Solomons government imposed such a ban last year.

O'Barry and Berman said from the Solomons capital Honiara on Friday that the dolphins were in an emergency situation, starving, dehydrated and in need of veterinary help.

O'Barry, who has campaigned against the captive dolphin industry since his Flipper training days, said he had seen recent footage of the dolphins made by an independent film maker which showed they were malnourished, sunburnt and blistered.

The footage showed they had "peanut heads", a sure sign they had lost so much weight their heads were shaped like peanuts about their skulls, he said.

Porter has defended his operation but said the recent cyclone did take out two of the park's pool systems and depleted the local fish supply.

He said 20,000kg of fish was in a container on the wharf in the Solomons capital Honiara but the cyclone prevented its dispatch by boat to Gavetu.

"Some local fish was procured but it did lead to less than normal food availability.

"The fish supply is back to normal as finally all the boats are back in the water.

"We are addressing all the problems and the group of animals remains under professional care."
Porter said the ban on dolphin exports had affected the park because occasional dolphin exports were to have financed the tourism operation.

He said his company was pursuing a complaint with the Australian High Commission after Australians working with the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) were advised they should not visit the island because of Australian government rules regarding interactions with wild dolphins.

Such a ban reduced tourist numbers to the island, Porter said.

O'Barry and Berman said four of the park's dolphins had died in recent weeks leaving only 20 out of more than 100 originally captured for the park.

Cambodia gets involved in saving rare dolphin specie

Cambodia has appointed a commission to help save the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin, fearing that a unique natural treasure could become extinct, a senior official said Monday.

At least a dozen of the dolphins have died since the beginning of the year. According to the World Wildlife Fund, just an estimated 80 to 110 dolphins remain in Cambodia's Mekong River.

Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a decree appointing a dolphin conservation committee last Friday, said commission member Thong Khon, the deputy minister of tourism. The commission's task will be to save the dolphins and use them for tourism promotion.

Thong Khon noted that Cambodian dolphins die every year during fishing season from December to March, "but when they die in increasing numbers like this, we have to worry about the them."
"They are a national heritage, like the Angkor temples," he said, referring to the famous centuries-old archaeological site in northwestern Cambodia. "The government is committed to protecting them using all means.'

Last week, Phai Somany, a senior officer of the Fisheries Department's Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project, warned that Cambodia's population of Irrawaddy dolphins could vanish within a decade unless strict enforcement is undertaken to protect them.

He said that since the beginning of this year 14 dolphins -- mostly calves -- have died in Cambodia's part of the Mekong River, which also runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Seng Teak, country director of the World Wildlife Fund, said Monday that only 12 have died and the higher count was a result of a misunderstanding.

He said that the estimated 80 to 110 remaining dolphins, classified by the WWF as "critically endangered," are living in about 11 pools in the Mekong, upstream of Phnom Penh in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.

He welcomed the formation of the dolphin conservation committee, saying it will provide a stronger "legal tool" for conservation efforts.

The Tourism Ministry's Thong Khon said one of the new committee's main tasks will be to define a "fishing-free zone" for the dolphins, some of who may have been killed by fishing nets.

Pollution and disease were also possible causes of death, Seng Teak said, adding that samples from some dead dolphins have been sent for testing in the United States and Canada, but results have not yet been received.

Amount of stranded dolphin finally takes a dive

The relentless string of dolphin strandings that nearly overwhelmed the Cape Cod Stranding Network in January has quieted down.

Despite Sunday's furious nor'easter, no dolphin strandings were reported over the weekend.
"Knock on wood. Thank goodness," said stranding network director Kate Tuohey. "We were really watching before that last storm. We've had some seals strand, harp seals. The last dolphin [stranding reported] was Feb. 9; it was a single dolphin. Things are better."

Well over 100 dolphins stranded on the outer shores of Cape Cod Bay in January with half of them surviving. Necropsies have been done but the results won't be in for some time. The prevailing theories remain: they were chasing bait fish in too shallow water; illness; high tides; and or bad weather.

"We were each able to have a couple of days off, a normal weekend," Tuohey said. "We're happy with that. But March is the big month for mass strandings, so we could have them any time between then and now."

Swimming with dolphins, a dream come true for terminally ill child

Kieran Anderson was too scared to dive in for a dip with the animals during a family holiday to Tenerife last week. Today mum Victoria Kemp, 27, said it had been Kieran’s dream but when he had the chance the cautious youngster just couldn’t go through with it.

She said: “He has been saying for ages that he wanted to swim with dolphins so we went on holiday to Tenerife and booked him in to do it. “But when he actually saw them in the water he got a little bit scared and said he didn’t want to do it. He did like them, though, so he just sat on the side of the pool with his feet in the water and watched them.

“It was a shame, because he’d been wanting to do it but I think it was different than he had been expecting.” The six-year-old Roker schoolboy, from Horatio Street, has been fighting neuroblastoma – cancer of the nervous system – for two years. Since doctors told his family Kieran’s condition is incurable, they have been on a fund-raising drive to help the youngster realise his dreams.

Cash has been flooding in since the Echo reported the youngster’s condition and in December readers donated enough to send Kieran, a pupil at Dame Dorothy School, to Lapland to meet Santa Claus. Mum Victoria, dad Darren, 32, sister Natasha, 10, and brother Darren, nine, have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Echo readers and are planning to jet off to Disney World in Florida in September so Kieran can meet his hero Mickey Mouse.

Victoria said: “We are going to Disney World in September because it will be too hot for the kids before then, but they’re really looking forward to it.” Doctors at Newcastle’s RVI are keeping the cancer at bay for the moment but Kieran is still receiving chemotherapy. Victoria added: “He is responding really well to the chemotherapy at the minute and he’s the healthiest he’s been in while. He is just a happy normal little boy.”

Population of endangered dolphin specie rises

The population of rare Irrawaddy dolphins in Chilika lake, Asia's largest brackish water lagoon, has gone up to 130, an increase of 19 compared to previous year.''From the analysis of data of different sectors, the range of population in different sectors are observed to be over 130,'' chief executive officer of Chilika Development Authority (CDA) Ajit Pattnaik said.He said the outcome of the census conducted in the lagoon through direct count method on February 13 and 14 was encouraging since the population had risen by 19.While the population of dolphins was 125 in 2004, it came down to 111 in 2005 following death a few dolphins.As per CDA's census report, around 66 to 69 dolphins were sighted in the outer channel of the lagoon.The southern sector recorded a healthy population between 35 to 42 while in the central sector dolphins between 28 and 33 could be sighted.The CDA had divided the lagoon into four sectors -- southern, central, northern and outer channel.The survey, which commenced from 6.30 am and continued up to 12.30 pm, was carried out by senior research officials of Chief Wildlife Warden Office, Wildlife Institute of India, NGOs and CDA scientists.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Beached dolphin had sad fate

Although its fate is unknown, some Portsmouth residents did their best to save a dolphin that beached itself in Island Park over the weekend.

Portsmouth Harbormaster Scott Travers said an Atlantic Avenue resident called police late last week and reported that an apparently disoriented dolphin was swimming in the vicinity.

Then on Saturday morning came more calls that a dolphin had beached itself in the vicinity of Park Avenue and Aquidneck Avenue.

"It was lying in about six inches of water," Mr. Travers said, and seemed to be in severe distress. He described it as being about five feet long with a white stripe along its side.

A man who lives in the neighborhood put on a dry suit and helped ease the dolphin into deeper water. Mr. Travers said it "floundered about" for a little while but eventually disappeared.

The state Department of Environmental Management and Mystic Aquarium were also notified.

Compromise reached about feeding dolphins

Tourism operators and the Queensland Government have formally reached an agreement over dolphin feeding conditions at Tin Can Bay, on the state's south-east coast.

Local cafe owners ignored State Government regulations last year which banned people from feeding the dolphins and the laws were later overturned.

The Environment Minister, Desley Boyle, says the new arrangement allows only the two existing dolphins to be fed, and penalties will apply if the conditions are ignored.

"The safety of the dolphins is why I'd taken such a strong stand and I still do have some concerns about that," she said.

"This agreement will protect them in terms of the types of fish and the amount of feeding.
"It will protect them, we would hope, from any bad handling and transmission of viruses or human infections," said Ms Boyle.

One of the cafe's co-owners, Troy Anderson, says they have reached a sensible agreement.
"It was just sensible in the end. There was no need for all the rubbish that went on in the first place, but we just had a list of guidelines of what we wanted, and they came in with what they wanted, and it wasn't very hard to meet in the middle at all," he said.

Cambodia asking for help to save Irrawaddy dolphins

Phai Somany, senior officer of the Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project, raised the alarm after receiving news about the deaths of two baby dolphins.

Their demise brought to 14 the number that have died since the beginning of this year, including four this week, he said.

"This is a very sad news. We are declaring an emergency on this, asking all local authorities to cooperate in trying to reduce the mortality rate," Phai Somany said. "Without strengthening our conservation work, I dare to say that the dolphins will disappear from the Mekong River in the near future, in 10 years at the longest."

The two latest deaths followed those of two other calves -- aged between 4 weeks and 2 months -- that were discovered floating in the river on Monday.

The cause of their deaths was not immediately known, but officials have said environmental pollution and illegal fishing nets were probably behind the recent deaths of at least eight other Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodian waters.

The World Wildlife Fund has also called the deaths a "serious situation" that threatens the future of the animals.

It was estimated earlier this month that only 80-100 Irrawaddy dolphins are left in the Mekong River, which runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The WWF said the remaining dolphins are restricted to a 190-kilometer (120-mile) stretch of the river between the Cambodia-Laos border and the Cambodian town of Kratie, upstream from the capital, Phnom Penh.

Sam Kim Lorn, chief fisheries officer in Kratie province, said the dolphin death toll this year has already surpassed last year's total of eight.

He said illegal fishing nets were the cause of most dolphin deaths and that authorities were conducting day-and-night patrols of the river to crack down on the problem.

River pollution and disease could also have been factors in the recent deaths, he said.

The WWF has no estimates of how many Irrawaddy dolphins are left in the world. The animals are also found in waters around the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia and Australia.

Samples from some of Cambodia's dead dolphins have been sent for testing in Canada to try to determine the exact causes of their deaths, but the results are not yet available, Phai Somany said.

Rescued dolphin recovering in marine mammal hospital

An adult female Atlantic bottlenose dolphin - "Val" for Valentine's Day - which was stranded near Oldsmar last weekend, is now in rehabilitation at Mote Marine's animal hospital.

The dolphin was transported by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Mote staff took blood and tissue samples when the she arrived Sunday to determine what health problems she has. Mote's chief veterinarian, Dr. Charles Manire, said the dolphin is covered with abscesses in addition to being extremely underweight and dehydrated.

Staff and volunteers are spending time in a rehab tank with the dolphin, supporting her to ensure that she does not drown.The dolphin also ate on her own Monday morning.

"When this dolphin arrived, we were not sure she had a chance of survival, but since she has started swimming and eating on her own, we are much more optimistic," said Manire. "We are moving ahead with treatment for the widespread infections that we have observed."

Dolphin rescued near Mobile

An unexpected visitor near a Pinellas County mobile home park needed a helping hand this past weekend.An older female dolphin stranded herself in shallow water on Sunday at Anchor North Bay Mobile Home Park The dolphin was too sick to be pushed back into deeper water, and had to be towed to shore, because of thick mud.

Dr. Janine Cianciolo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium:"She is still fairly strong, she doesn't have any sunburn or anything like that. She is definitely going to need to go into rehabilitation for a while."The dolphin was taken to Clearwater Marine Aquarium for evaluation, and then moved to Mote Marine Aquarium in Sarasota.An examination shows the animal has some lesions on her skin and possibly some respiratory problems.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Dolphin rescued from cruel fate

AN angler saved a lost dolphin from being killed.

Jason Stokes, 37, dived into the cold sea to stop the 4ft bluenosed dolphin being smashed on rocks by the incoming tide.

He grabbed it and spent 15 minutes guiding it out of Newport Bay, South Wales.
Jason, of Bargoed Sea Anglers Society, said: "I didn't want it to end like the whale in the Thames."
The RSPCA said: "He showed great courage."

Dolphin sent back home after seven months of rehab

A rare dolphin, once sick and stranded in Southwest Florida made his final journey home. Scientists and volunteers from the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota loaded the rare dolphin onto a boat - took him about 80-miles out to the ocean and set him free.

Clyde, a 650 pound Risso's dolphin, stranded himself off Marco Island along with five others seven months ago. He nearly died there.

"Clyde responded very well to the treatment, despite having a few ongoing medical problems in the beginning months," said Jamie Tacy of Mote Marine Laboratory.

Three of the stranded dolphins died and the fourth, named Bonnie, died only a few days ago at Mote.

That left Clyde, still weak, determined to live on.

"There's really been a lot of time and effort put into the rehabilitation of this dolphin," said Tacy.
When the scientists decided to return him to the ocean, they needed a boat big enough to move Clyde. Cathy Unruh jumped at the chance and donated her yacht for the voyage.

"It literally took us no time at all to decide, we measured the cockpit, we could do it, how could you not," said Unruh.

Clyde was taken about 80 miles out to the sea to be released. Before he was released, he was fitted with transmitting devices so scientists can track his every move.

Although they were sad to see him go, if everything goes well - Clyde will never return again.

Started as a predator, ended up as a hero!

Initially he sprinted to the surf for a juicy, fat fish in the shallow water and then he suddenly became a dolphin rescuer.

This, briefly, was the drama in which Dave Hall, an engineer in this tiny coastal resort, played the leading role, saving the life of a baby dolphin not longer than a woman's arm.

The little dolphin, probably not older than five days, was floundering in the shallow water of Cape St Francis.

Beach strollers saw the struggling dolphin and told Hall, as well as Trudi Malan of Aubatis, a marine and wildlife rescue service.

From his house Hall thought it was a big fish floundering in the shallows.

Malan also ran to the scene and saw Hall sprinting towards the area. "Run, Dave, run," she shouted, but when they reached the place the fish was supposed to be there was nothing.
Hall and Malan - who had by that time been told it was a baby dolphin and not a fish - ran up and down the beach trying to locate the little dolphin.

"Then we saw one of the local residents running into the water and we knew where it was.
"If I have to make a guess, I would say the little animal is not older than five days.

"Shame, and it was making the most feeble plaintive sounds," Malan said. She realised it was imperative for the baby to be released as quickly as possible near a group of dolphins.
She phoned the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and the Spirit of St Francis boat was immediately despatched.

However, the boat could not get right onto the beach. Hall ran back to his house, collected his surfski, ran back to the beach, took the baby dolphin on board and rowed to where the NSRI boat was cruising behind the breakers.

"By that time it was almost dark and we were getting worried about Dave's safety," said Malan.
"I spoke to the NSRI guys and asked them to go for Dave and forget about the dolphin, should his surfski capsize. "

Hall and the baby dolphin reached the boat safely, which left immediately to the vicinity of the Cape St Francis lighthouse, where a group of dolphins was seen earlier.

The baby was then carefully sent back to its natural element.

"Al we can do now is to hope that the dolphins will adopt the baby and that he was, possibly, reunited with his mother.

"What we do know is that the NSRI crew heard very satisfied signals when the little dolphin was once again back among its kin," Malan said.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said the baby dolphin was possibly separated from the school by strong currents.

Malan had nothing but praise for the NSRI crew and their key role in the marine rescue drama.
"Had it not been for them the baby dolphin would not have made it - it has not even weaned and the only manner in which it can survive is among other dolphins."

Sad ending for young calf

Marine mammal biologists don't know why a baby Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin died and washed up to Marineland's shore Wednesday afternoon, but they said beached dolphin sightings are not uncommon in Northeast Florida.

From Volusia County to Nassau County, about 20 stranded marine animals are sighted along the beaches every year, and most are dolphins, said Artie Wong of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"Larger populations have a lot to do with it," commission biologist Andy Garrett said.

The commission received a call about the animal after Gamble Rogers Middle School pupils and teachers spotted the carcass during a field trip.

The biologists, based in Jacksonville, transported the roughly yard-long mammal by pickup to the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. There, veterinarians will try to determine the cause of death and see if the body is salvageable to use in student research, Wong said.

Garrett said he did not see any outer damage to the dolphin to suggest an assault by another sea creature, and he could tell the animal was recently born because its belly button was still raw and its teeth were not yet developed.

Younger animals face many obstacles to survival, he said.

"They're preyed upon by sharks. If the bond between mother and baby isn't strong enough, the baby can get lost. There are infant traumas related to birthing," he said, adding, "a lot (of cases) are undetermined."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Young strayed calf rescued and reunited with pod

A stray five-day-old dolphin was rescued from the surf at Cape St Francis and reunited with its pod by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) on Wednesday night.

Only 60cm-long the youngster was spotted in the surf at Cape St Francis main beach at 6pm and taken on board an NSRI rescue craft, spokesman Craig Lambinon said. "We... located the pod off-shore at the Cape St Francis lighthouse and set the little dolphin free. "It swam away strongly and we can only hope that it reunites with its family".

It would not have been able to survive alone and could not be hand-raised at that age, said Lambinon.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

River dolphin specie endangered by death of 10 members

The death of 10 river dolphins in Cambodia, probably because of environmental pollution, threatens the survival of the species in the Mekong, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said on Friday.
WWF estimates that there are only 80 to 100 of the Irrawaddy dolphins left in the river. Of the 10 that died, eight were calves, and the loss of the young will threaten future reproduction, the Gland, Switzerland-based organisation said.

"This is terrible news, making a serious situation even more critical," said WWF's Robert Mather. "This time of year commonly sees a peak in dolphin deaths; however, 10 in the last two months is particularly high and disappointing since none have been reported since May 2005."

The loss of the calves continues a "worrying trend" of high death rates in baby dolphins in the Mekong river, WWF said.

Cause to be revealed

"This trend has been seen for a number of years and is suspected to be due to some form of environmental pollution. However, ongoing tissue samples and chemical analysis have yet to reveal the cause," the organisation said in a statement.

The remaining 80 to 100 dolphins are now restricted to a 190km stretch of the river between the Cambodia-Laos border and the Cambodian town of Kratie, upstream from the capital Phnom Penh.

"River dolphins like the Irrawaddy are the waters' watchdogs," said Jamie Pittock, a freshwater expert at WWF. "When high levels of toxic pollutants accumulate in their bodies this is a stark warning of poor water quality for dolphins and the people who live from the river."

At least one of the dead dolphins was killed by entanglement in fishing nets, probably the single greatest threat freshwater dolphin species, WWF said.

Pod of dolphins, stranded

Department of Conservation staff have been called in to help save a small pod of dolphins stranded at Waipu Cove beach in Northland.

The police say five dolphins came ashore at about 1pm on Saturday, stranding themselves in shallow water.

Surf lifesavers from the Waipu Cove Club helped to herd two of the mammals back out to sea using their rescue boats.

Lifesaver Josh Godfrey says two stranded dolphins are being kept alive by locals with towels and buckets.

He says several of the dolphins appear to have been injured.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Irrawaddy dolphins more endangered than ever!

The death of ten Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River in Cambodia is raising serious concerns about the survival of this already critically endangered population, warns WWF.The global conservation organization estimates that there are only 80–100 Irrawaddy dolphins left in the Mekong, and they are restricted to a 190km stretch of the river between the Cambodia-Laos border and the Cambodian town of Kratie.

“This is terrible news, making a serious situation even more critical,” said Robert Mather, Senior Programme Manager at WWF’s Greater Mekong Programme.“This time of year commonly sees a peak in dolphin deaths, however ten in the last two months is particularly high and disappointing since none have been reported since May 2005.”Eight out of ten of the dead dolphins were calves, continuing the worrying trend of high mortality in baby dolphins in the Mekong. This trend has been seen for a number of years and is suspected to be due to some form of environmental pollution. However, ongoing tissue samples and chemical analysis have yet to reveal the cause.

“River dolphins like the Irrawaddy are the waters’ watchdogs,” said Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF's Global Freshwater Programme. “When high levels of toxic pollutants accumulate in their bodies this is a stark warning of poor water quality for dolphins and the people who live from the river.”At least one of the dead dolphins was killed by entanglement in fishing gillnets, probably the single greatest known threat to the Mekong population. Fisheries bycatch – the accidental capture of non-targeted species – is one of the greatest threats to freshwater dolphin species.

END NOTES:• The Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project is run by WWF in cooperation with the Cambodian Department of Fisheries and supported by the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity and Sustainable Use Project (MWBP). The project is currently working with local and national authorities as well as local communities to establish core conservation areas to protect the dolphins crtitical habitat in "deep pools". These areas are also vitally important to maintain the productive fisheries of the Mekong.• Some 300,000 small whales, dolphins, and porpoises die each year as a result of becoming entangled in fishing gear, and more than 250,000 loggerhead and leatherback marine turtles are caught annually by commercial longline fisheries.

• WWF estimates that six cetacean species may disappear in the next decade because of fishing gear entanglement. There are probably fewer than 100 Maui's dolphins left in New Zealand because of high entanglement rates in set nets and by pair trawlers. Similar threats have dramatically reduced populations of the Vaquita dolphin in the Gulf of California, the Harbour porpoise in the Baltic Sea, and the Irrawaddy dolphin in Southeast Asia.

Supermodel faces own fears by swimming with dolphins

The former catwalk star has a lifelong fear of porpoises and sea mammals, but agreed to confront her phobia at SeaWorld in San Diego, California, in a bid to show viewers that fear is conquerable.

Banks' fear-filled show, in which she takes the plunge with the "fin-flapping stars of my nightmares" airs next week (07FEB06).

The beauty has also taped a segment at Bally's Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, in which she goes glam as a showgirl in the long-running JUBILEE show.

Fishing boats warned not to feed wild dolphins

The bottlenose dolphin - nicknamed Marra - was freed on Monday after a month in Maryport's inner harbour.

Experts were alerted after Marra was reported with at least one other dolphin in the outer harbour.
The monitoring operation is now winding down, although fishing boats are being warned not to feed wild dolphins.

Marra became stranded after he followed fishing boats into the harbour that had earlier been throwing food scraps into the water.

The animal then began suffering because the fresh water of the marina was bleaching its skin.
Unfortunately these solitary sociable dolphins are often struck by boats or wounded by people
Hannah Bird, WDCS

Marra - the word means "mate" in local dialect - had become a popular attraction for visitors who had flocked to the marina to catch a glimpse.

Now the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) has urged fishing boat crews not to feed dolphins.

Hannah Bird of the organisation, said: "It's very tempting for crews to feed wild dolphins because they are wonderful creatures.

"But the truth is that there is a great risk they can be tempted into harbour areas like Maryport, with the results we saw recently with Marra.

"Most bottlenose dolphins around the UK are encountered in groups. However, occasionally, for reasons that are not clear, some individuals choose to live on their own.

"These animals, like Marra, may often interact with people and it seems that the more that this happens the more the dolphins seem to seek human contact.

"Unfortunately, these solitary sociable dolphins are often struck by boats or wounded by people.
"Marra was lucky on this occasion, but he, or some other dolphins may not be so fortunate next time".

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Sad ending for dolphin who washed ashore

A 15-feet long dolphin, which was washed ashore, died at a coastal village near here on Wednesday.The marine animal reached the coast near Suba Uppalavadi on Wednesday morning. With the help of local fishermen the dolphin swam back to sea.

But within two hours the dolphin returned to die on the sandy shores at the mouth of the Thenpennnaiyar river mouth at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Environmental activists feel that it was the effluent discharged by the SIPCOT industries into the sea that had killed the animal. The industries, they said, were posing a threat to the marine ecosystem.

Cape Cod a deadly trap record stranding shows

The satellite information on those dolphins so far indicates that they are staying at a safe distance from the shore.The remaining 13 dolphins were either dead upon rescuers’ arrival or had to be euthanized.“They’re happening in such large numbers and so fast and furious,” said Chris Duren, a volunteer for the Stranding Network, on Friday.

She said rescuers have been so busy responding to beached dolphin reports that they have not had a chance to sit down, pore over the data they’ve collected so far and diagnose a cause for the strandings. There were four waves of them altogether in the past week. Four dolphins were found high and dry at Great Island in Wellfleet on Thursday, and 17 turned up in various spots between Great Island and Paine Hollow on Friday.

Another five stranded at the Provincetown-Truro town line, behind the Sandcastle Motor Inn on Beach Point, on Saturday afternoon.An additional 26 to 30 dolphins had a close call on Sunday in the Herring River, where they were seen swimming on a high tide. Rescuers implemented their “mass stranding prevention measures” by getting into boats and using sound-emitting devices called “pingers” to shepherd the dolphins back out to the bay before the tide began to drop.

They were herded to the No. 5 buoy at Billingsgate Shoal, Duren said, and rescuers continued to monitor them into the week.The Sandcastle stranding was the sixth multiple dolphin stranding in two weeks and the eighth mass stranding of the winter, said Tony LaCasse, a spokesperson for the New England Aquarium, which serves as a “medical partner” to the Stranding Network.

“The most we’ve had in the last decade is four multiple strandings in a winter,” he said.The dolphin strandings were so numerous and the rescue efforts so intense these past few days that television crews from NBC’s Today Show and reporters from the Boston Globe swooped in to cover the crisis. There was no shortage of drama, heartache or heroism to report as rescuers banded together on the seaweed-strewn flats of Wellfleet or on the cold, dark, wind-bitten beaches of Provincetown and Truro to save what animals they could.

Hauling nylon stretchers and medical bags, and assisted not only by volunteers from the New England Aquarium but from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Stranding Network worked quickly to assess the condition of each dolphin and transport those which still had a chance of survival to safety.

On both Thursday and Friday nights, a long procession of vehicles flashing orange hazard lights could be seen moving slowly down Route 6 from Wellfleet to Provincetown as the batches of live dolphins found during the day were towed to Herring Cove for release.On Thursday, three of four dolphins survived the traumatic overland trip and, carried in their slings by teams of rescuers, reached the safety of the waves.

Rescuers breathed a sigh of relief two days later when, tracking them via a satellite tag implanted in one of them by Bob Cooper of the New England Aquarium, they could see that the dolphins were well offshore. They were making a beeline, it appeared, for Stellwagen Bank.On Friday, five dolphins, including one calf, had to be carried several hundred yards from where they stranded at Paine Hollow before they, too, were put in the back of a truck and towed 15 long, dark miles to Herring Cove.

By 8 p.m., LaCasse said, all five were back in the sea.There was some initial trouble when one of the dolphins became momentarily disoriented in the surf and began swimming in a direction that made rescuers nervous. But soon enough it righted its course and headed out with the others.LaCasse said the satellite tagging of released dolphins is an innovation that is “pretty exciting.”

It’s allowed them to track a number of white-sided dolphins that were released last winter after being stranded on Cape beaches — so far those animals seem to be doing well, he said. “The great value to satellite tags is we can get this incredible amount of information real-time,” LaCasse said.Rescuers know from their satellite information, for instance, that one of the dolphins released on Friday was travelling “just off Race Point and holding there” by Saturday.

(They think it was sticking closer to shore because of the calf that was in the group.)Wildlife experts have been unable to say with any certainty exactly what is causing these multiple strandings. The more recent strandings are considered especially unusual in that they involve two species of dolphin — white-sided dolphins and common dolphins.

They are both open-ocean animals, but common dolphins are distinguished by their long beaks, which makes them strike a resemblance to bottle-nosed dolphins, while white-sided dolphins are a bit bulkier in stature and reportedly less skittish than their counterparts.Katie Touhey, executive director of the Stranding Network, paused from her whirlwind schedule on Monday to comment on the situation. She said the dolphins that were stranding showed no outward signs of poor health or ear infections or any other physical condition that might cause them to strand.

Nor were they thinner than they should be. Signs of emaciation would support the theory that the dolphins had left the open sea for more dangerous inshore waters because their normal food supply was depleted and they needed to forage for baitfish in riskier locales.Touhey pointed out, though, that while “we’re not seeing anything overtly wrong, we don’t have any of the lab results back yet.”

Those are due within two weeks.As for possible reasons why the dolphins may be stranding, “There’s two things that it’s important for people to remember that are common to all dolphin strandings on the Cape,” she said. One is that “these are very social animals, and because of that social structure they stay together in the wild, which doesn’t serve them well when one of them comes ashore.

”The other is that “Cape Cod is like a trap” for dolphins — as it is for turtles and other creatures that become stuck in the bay — because of its hook-like geography. And Wellfleet, because of its own shoreline shape, is like “a hook within a hook … a trap within a trap.”

Dolphin videos win award

The series of Dolphin Adventure videos produced by Creative Street for the Indianapolis Zoo’s New Dolphin Adventure won both a Gold World Medal at the New York Film Festival in the Nature & Wildlife category, and a Golden Eagle from The CINE Golden Eagle Film and Video Competitions. Winners of this year's New York Film Festival were honored at an awards ceremony in New York on January 27th, 2006.

The 47th Annual CINE Awards Ceremony will be held on April 18th in Washington DC.The New York Festivals International Film & Video Awards recognize "The World's Best Work" in informational, educational and industrial film productions and corporate video. The competition also covers short film, feature-length film and home videos.

Now approaching its 50th anniversary, the Film & Video Awards sees entries from over 30 countries around the world. A Gold World Medal, won by the Indianapolis Zoo and Creative Street, is one of the very top awards in the entire competition. Renowned for the Golden Eagles it awards for excellence in documentary and other informational film and video production, CINE continues to recognize and foster the highest quality of non-theatrical film and video production through its semi-annual competitions.

Past recipients of CINE Golden Eagles include Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Lasseter, David Grubin, Barbara Kopple, Charles Guggenheim, Ken Burns, Albert Maysles, Debra Chasnoff, and many others distinguished for their work with the moving image.“The videos produced by Creative Street for our new Dolphin Adventure are proving to be remarkable tools that are empowering our visitors to start conversations about dolphins and our natural world, “reports Michael Crowther, President & CEO of The Indianapolis Zoo.

“These remarkable videos about these remarkable animals compliment our mission to inspire local and global communities to celebrate, protect, and preserve our natural world through conservation, education, and research, and by providing an enriching and wondrous environment for our visitors and the animals in our care.”

The videos play on flat screen monitors visible as Zoo visitors enter and exit the Underwater Dolphin Dome – the world’s first underwater dolphin viewing experience.According to Steve Katzenberger, Creative Street’s President, “these videos are great examples of what enthusiastic collaboration and teamwork can produce…everyone was focused on their individual aspect of the Dolphin Adventure, while at the same time all sharing the goal of making it an unforgettable experience.

All of us at Creative Street were truly honored to be able to use our international wildlife video and documentary experience in the production of these educational tools.”Added Creative Street Writer/Producer Susan Gee, “working with The Indianapolis Zoo staff was a shear delight…everyone we worked with, especially the dolphins themselves, were true professionals!”The Creative Street Media Group is a nationally recognized, fully integrated communications company serving clients in virtually every electronic, print and interactive category through Creative Street Corporate Communications, Webize Interactive Media, Creative Street Entertainment, Edit Pointe Digital Editing and StreetWise Promotions. Their award-wining wildlife series, Wildlife Journal, can be seen on Animal Planet.

For more information on the Creative Street Media Group, visit in White River State Park downtown, the Indianapolis Zoo is a world-class facility hosting a million plus visitors each year. The Zoo plays a major role in worldwide conservation and research, including accomplishing the world’s first successful artificial insemination of an African elephant. The Zoo also created the Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading conservation award for animal conservation, the first of which will be awarded in September 2006.

The Indianapolis Zoo was the first attraction triple accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) and the American association of Museums as a zoo, an aquarium and a botanic garden. For more information on the Indianapolis Zoo, visit

Marra the dolphin finally swam away into the sunset with another dolphin

A juvenile bottlenose dolphin trapped at Maryport, England, was returned to the sea, where it met and swam off with another dolphin, a report said.

While Marra the dolphin brought delight for nearly a month at the tidal marina, rescuers took action Monday since the malnourished creature was losing weight and skin pigment while swimming along harbor walls much like zoo animals.

When the tide drained, Marra was captured and loaded onto a watercraft that returned the dolphin to the ocean.

"This is the fairytale bit," Tony Woodley of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue told The Times of London. "It was seen to dive four times and then meet up with another dolphin" and headed into deep water, he said. "We were not expecting the other dolphin at all. To meet up so quickly is quite remarkable," said Woodley.

Last week, many of the same rescuers failed in efforts to save a whale in the Thames River.

Stranded dolphin may not know a happy ending!

Marine life experts were worried that Marra, a bottlenose dolphin, was losing weight and decided to drain the marina and net the animal.

The rescue mission took 20 minutes and Marra was released a mile out to sea.

The animal was later seen frolicking with a second dolphin. An attempt to coax Marra out into open waters using specialist equipment failed last week.

Just like a Hollywood ending, it was seen to meet up with another dolphin and they swam away together.

Tony Woodley, British Divers Marine Life Rescue Tony Woodley, a spokesman for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue group, said the rescue was launched due to the dolphin's flagging health in the cold.

A 100-strong crowd gathered to watch the operation which was also overseen by the police, the RSPCA and the RNLI.

Experts were also worried that Marra, who usually lives in saltwater, was suffering in the freshwater of the marina which was bleaching its skin due to lack of salt.

Mr Woodley said: "It was a fantastic rescue and everything went just like clockwork. The decision was made to leave the lock gates open as the tide went out so the water level in the harbour decreased.

Marra is lifted to safety "A rescue team went into the water when it was around one metre deep and formed a semi-circle around the dolphin.

"It was captured and put on to a waiting stretcher and then lifted on to the harbour by a crane. We then loaded it on to a trailer and took it to a waiting boat where it was taken out to sea and released."

Marine experts were never able to establish whether the animal was male or female.
Mr Woodley added: "It was seen to dive and surface around four or five times and then, just like a Hollywood ending, it was seen to meet up with another dolphin and they swam away together. A really happy ending."

A vet was at the marina to monitor the animal's stress levels and examine it during the operation.
Marra had become a popular attraction for visitors who had flocked to the marina to catch a glimpse.

Previous attempts to coax it out of the harbour had failed because it appeared to be afraid of the gates.

Another dolphin stranded on Cape Cod

Massachusetts wildlife officials say they have no idea why so many dolphins and whales have been stranded this winter on Cape Cod.

In the seventh mass stranding on Cape Cod Friday, 13 dolphins beached themselves in Wellfleet. Dozens of volunteers tried to rescue the animals, but eight of the dolphins were dead, or were euthanized, the Boston Globe reported Saturday.

So far this winter, mass stranding incidents at Cape Cod Bay have involved 72 dolphins and 18 pilot whales swept to shore and unable to return to the water independently.

It`s believed the mammals come into the bay looking for food and get disoriented by the tides, said Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"