Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dolphin killed by net!

The dolphin was found on Monday as contractors checked the nets, which are located near the middle of the beach.

It became trapped and drowned despite acoustic "pingers" installed on all nets by 2003 to keep dolphins and whales away.

Avalon resident Chris Bray photographed the contractors as they removed the dolphin.
"After they had finished checking the net they just drove off with the dolphin lashed to the side," he said.

Humane Society International spokeswoman Nicola Beynon said the death of harmless sea creatures in nets was a common occurrence, with a dugong caught and killed in nets off Queenscliff beach three weeks ago.

"I would expect most Sydneysiders to object to the lethal shark nets when they realise that innocent dolphins, rays and other harmless species are common victims," Ms Beynon said.
Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said the dolphin's death did not change the NSW Government's commitment to the meshing program.

"The Whale Beach incident marks the first dolphin killed in the nets this season," he said. "While this particular case is unfortunate, it does not change the Government's position on the overall benefits of the beach meshing program."

Last year 123 sharks were caught in nets along with two dolphins and two turtles.

Ms Beynon said that between 1995 and 2004, 72 of the sharks considered most dangerous to humans – great whites and tiger sharks – were caught, while many other harmless species were also killed.

Next month the minister will meet with shark experts, lifesavers and fisheries officers for a "shark summit". But the shark meshing program, in place since 1937, will not be discussed, with talks focusing on understanding shark movements and breeding.

Kristopher Lim of Oceanworld Manly said it was believed the dugong, which is usually found in warmer waters, had been caught in stronger than usual east-coast currents ahead of the recent Queensland storms.

"It's not unheard of (for dugongs to be found near Sydney), especially as the water down here has been so warm," Mr Lim said.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Emergency plan to be develop for mass of stranded dolphins

Wildlife authorities in WA's lower south-west are developing a response plan for mass dolphin strandings in response to an incident at the D'Entrecasteaux National Park earlier this month.
About 40 dolphins became stranded on a 30-kilometre stretch of coast between Black Point and the Warren River mouth.

Nine of the mammals survived.
The Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) has now decided to set up a marine mammal stranding response plan for the Warren region.

Donnelly district manager John Gillard says the strategy will draw on a similar plan developed after last year's whale strandings in Busselton.

"We'll be looking at particular sections of coastline, individual species, and we'll document the appropriate strategy or response, whether it's other striped dolphins at Yeagarup or whether it might be another species closer to Windy Harbour," he said.

"And we'll hopefully be able to develop some clear strategies on how we'll deal with that."

Mayor gets involved in dolphin watching tour industry!

Baclayon Mayor Benny Uy is urged to step into the conflicts and lack of management in the booming dolphin watching tour in Pamilacan Island.

The two major concerns are the congestion of boats at the area where dolphins are and the raging conflict between two groups based in the island.

Mayor Uy is invited by the Provincial Tourism Council (PTC) to step into the case being the chief executive of the municipality where this dolphin watching tour is being operated.

It maybe noted that this marine tour is Asia’s bet to the World of Tomorrow’s Award.

The council sees the urgency of looking into these concerns including the rampant operation of untrained boatmen who bring tourists to the site. Aside from creating congestion at the site, the dolphins are at risk of being hit by boats manned by untrained boatmen coming from the various resorts in Panglao.

There seems to be a need to regulate the entry of boat operators doing marine tour which only the “iron hand” of the LGU can do.

Secondly, the controversies between the Pamilacan Island Dolphin and Whale Watching Organization (PIDWO) and the Pamilacan Island Boat Operators and Spotters Association (PIBOSA) should also be resolved in order to enhance the marine tour, instead of causing conflict to both groups.

Barangay chairman Crispo Valeroso of Pamilacan likewise questioned why oftentimes the barangay council is not informed of developments for the island, including the alleged funding from the New Zealand government. He alleged that PIDWWO do not even contribute to the maintenance of the marine sanctuary in the island.

The global focus on the dolphin watching tour gained prominence with the recent visit of New Zeland Prime Minister Helen Clark to the island.

Mayor Uy, leaders of the two groups as well as Valeroso are invited to the PTC meeting at the Capitol tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Could China's economical success destroyed endangered dolphin specie?

A team of scientists is to scan 1,000 miles of China's Yangtse River to see if its unique species of dolphin is the first member of the family of porpoises, dolphins and whales to have become extinct.
Using binoculars and underwater microphones, experts from Britain, the United States and China will spend eight weeks this autumn surveying the newly industrialised habitat of the white river dolphin.

A pilot project that began a week ago has failed to find one, leading to fears that the dolphin, or baiji as it is known in Chinese, has succumbed to the country's rapid economic growth.

If a few are found, there are plans to move them to a nature reserve in the middle stretches of the river.

"This is the first full survey for nearly 10 years," the British project manager, Leigh Barrett, said. "We don't know if we will find any baiji, or even if it is safe to move them, but we are hoping that this project will give us the information we need."

As an industrial haze and the brown Yangtse waters lapped the sides of the project's research vessel, the dangers facing marine life were clear to see.

Among other creatures at risk is the finless porpoise, also unique to the Yangtse and the world's only freshwater porpoise.

The dolphins have already had to evolve to survive. Distinguished by their white bellies and long snouts, they have small eyes and see little, relying on sonar waves to navigate in the murky, silted waters. Their main foes are the queues of cargo ships plying the river, whose propellers snare them and whose noise disorientates them.

They also share their home with the 400 million people who live along the river's banks.
Wang Ming, the research director at the Institute of Hydrobiology in Wuhan and the world's leading baiji expert, says the animal was never hunted because of its significance in Chinese poetry and mythology.

According to the story, the dolphin was a beautiful maiden, kidnapped from the bank by the dragon who lived in its waters. When her father dived in to rescue her, he was turned into a finless porpoise.

The 1990s survey found 13 of the dolphins, leading him to conclude that there were fewer than 100 of the creatures left, but only a handful have been seen in the past few years.

The last sighting, of a mother and child, was in May last year.

In the early 1980s, pods of 10 and more would be seen basking in stretches nearby.

Dr Wang peered through the haze at the factories lining the riverside and said that, if any remained, the only hope was to transfer them to a nature reserve already established in an ox-bow lake.

"We agreed that the Yangtse now has so much activity going on there was no way to stop it," he said. "But to catch them we need to find them first."

Miss Barrett, a wildlife film-maker, has a similar fascination with the creature, having first encountered it in a biology lecture at Royal Holloway College, London.

Dolphin's dilemma needs attention!

It was encouraging to hear Government say at the most recent press briefing, last Friday, that in light of the Cayman Islands Tourist Association’s (CITA) opposition to the introduction of Dolphinariums here, they will be talking to the tourist body.It was extremely disappointing however that the administration said it will not be halting those projects which already have planning permission.

As noted by CITA’s President Karie Bergstom, in Cayman Net News’ Business Monday 20 March, the operation of these attractions will present the Cayman Islands’ tourist body with a serious public relations challenge.It won’t be the developers of these so called ‘attractions’ that will have to deal with the negative and adverse publicity bound to be generated when they open — it will be the rest of the tourist sector.

As the owners of these reportedly, three, possibly even four marine attractions make money from the cruise tourists and others that may well be drawn to such attractions, the rest of the tourist sector here will be battling the negative side.Such attractions are circus like and unwelcome at best, at worst they are environmental disasters that will impact on the delicate eco-systems that have contributed to the outstanding beauty of Cayman’s natural marine environment, and as a result our successful dive sector is bound to suffer.

As the rest of the world begins to move away from the development of such unsophisticated tourist attractions and towards more eco-friendly tourist products it is a crying shame that the Cayman Islands is moving towards developing not just one dolphin ‘attraction’ but possibly four.Even Mexico, the country supposedly supplying one of the proposed dolphinariums, with the marine mammals, has banned the attractions.

This, together with Government’s sudden realization that the main tourist body here is fundamentally apposed, illustrates that the original proposals for these attractions were not properly discussed or thought out.Applications were made and granted with virtually no discussion of what such sites would mean to the rest of this country’s tourist product and above all the animals themselves.

Encouraging tourists to ride on the back of some of nature’s most incredible animals, or have them jumping through hopes for a few fish, is in complete contrast to all of the other environmental protection measures the country has taken to preserve Cayman’s exquisite natural environment.In contrast to this dumbed down end of peer animal abuse entertainment, the real Cayman Islands tourist product is about the bluff, on Cayman Brac, the mastic trail in North Side, the blue iguana programme at the botanical Gardens in Frank Sound, the development of marine protection zones and the internationally applauded Little Cayman Marine Research Institute and some of the best diving in the world.

Everywhere else throughout the tourist sector in this country, all of those involved are working hard to preserve our naturally beautiful environment and help the indigenous species of these Islands survive.Dolphins are not indigenous to the Cayman Islands and even if they were, they do not give human’s ‘lifts’ or balance balls on their noses and jump up for fish tossed at them, in their natural ocean habitat.

Moreover, as well as offering a miserable life for the creatures in captivity, the dolphin’s excrement will present a serious threat to Cayman’s reefs and marine eco-system.The only people who will benefit from these proposed ‘attractions’ will be the developers and owners of the parks, who are bound to do well from the sheer number of cruise passengers coming here — some of whom will be willing to visit such attractions.

It is essential that the Government takes the opposition, from not just CITA but many other people here to these planned eco-disasters, seriously.The Cayman Islands should not under any circumstances, sacrifice its reputation and its environment for the profit the handful of businesspeople involved are set to gain from these unsophisticated and outdated modes of tourist entertainment.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Baby dolphin rescued!

Dolphin trapped in the Golden Horn rescued by local construction workersA dolphin which was trapped in the Golden Horn for 3 days after losing its way was finally rescued yesterday by a group of construction workers, who set the dolphin free in the Sea of Marmara.

Though help had been requested from the local fire department, it wound up coming through in the form of two boats used by workers on a local culture center. The men worked for 2 hours to capture the lost dolphin, and finally were able to get a hold of it, wrapping it in wet blankets and transferring it to a boat owned by the Istanbul Municipality Sea Department.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New study to monitor dolphins' health

The Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department recently began a two-year study to monitor the number of Chinese white dolphins in Hong Kong and their distribution.

They will take tissue samples from live dolphins to investigate the long-term impacts of environmental contaminants on the mammals' health.

Risk assessment: Senior Marine Conservation Officer Joseph Sham (right) says researchers use a crossbow to shoot a biopsy dart which retrieves a tiny core of skin and blubber from the live dolphin at sea.

The department's Senior Marine Conservation Officer Joseph Sham said monitoring the Chinese white dolphin has been an important part of the conservation of marine mammals in Hong Kong.

Mr Sham said the department has been studying the population and biology of this rare animal for the last 10 years to protect them from the threat of pollution, development and other human activities.

He said information on the dolphin population and its trends are vital to its conservation and adaptive management. It is also an important indicator to assess the conservation programme's effectiveness.

The programme aims to investigate the causes of mortality such as the long-term impacts of environmental contaminants on dolphins' health.

He said Chinese white dolphins, also known as Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, are found in coastal waters and estuaries throughout the Indian Ocean and western Pacific Ocean. Their range extends from South Africa in the west, to the coast of China and northern Australia in the east.

About 200 dolphins found in HK waters

According to recent survey data, there are more than 1,500 dolphins in the whole Pearl River Estuary.

Mr Sham said the number of dolphins residing in Hong Kong waters has been quite stable at about 200. They are mostly found in the western waters, including outer Deep Bay, north, south and west Lantau waters.

Dolphin numbers show a slight increase, attributed to the improved general marine environment and the conservation programme the department has adopted, he added.

In the past, the department only tested only tissue from dead dolphins found stranded on the coach for contaminants.

To better gauge these pollutant levels and understand the animal's biology, it recently started taking samples from live dolphins following a successful trial last year.

Researchers use a crossbow to shoot a biopsy dart which takes a tiny core of skin and blubber from the live dolphin at sea. They use the skin sample to determine the gender, and the blubber helps in pollutant analysis.

Expert hopes to collect 30 samples

Dr Thomas Jefferson, the department's hired expert, will collect about 30 biopsy samples in the next two years. The tissues would be tested in collaboration with the City University of Hong Kong.

Results will help generate an environmental risk assessment for the Chinese white dolphins in Hong Kong waters.

The department has imposed strict restrictions when taking samples from the dolphins, Mr Sham said.

For example, the researcher cannot take samples in the marine park, and no samples should be taken from dolphin parents that are taking care of their offspring.

He said the whole process of sampling will be recorded and efforts will be taken to keep the impact on the dolphins to a minimum.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Group protest against dolphin's captivity!

Another group has weighed in on the captive dolphin controversy.
And this is no regular group; it’s the Cayman Islands Tourism Authority.
Its members are totally against any kind of captive dolphin facility being opened in the Cayman Islands.

It’s not the first time CITA has polled its 188 members on this issue. And it’s not the first time they’ve voted against such facilities.

But this time more members made their voices heard.

A position paper from the watersports sector of the CITA is urging the Government to put laws in place to prohibit captive dolphin facilities in Cayman before it’s too late.

While Government doesn’t have to take advice from CITA, it should take into consideration the points the group makes.

Specifically, CITA members are opposed to the facilities because dolphin attractions are being closed down on a regular basis in other countries and opening one here could create a tourism nightmare when potential tourists begin boycotting this country.

They have other reasons for advising against captive dolphin facilities.

They’re concerned about the effects of runoff dolphin excrement on the reefs and the marine environment.

They’re worried about the ethics of those who capture dolphins and sell them to dolphinariums and the negative perception of what goes on in the captures.

They also want to keep Cayman what it is – Cayman.

CITA members believe there is already much to offer tourists and they support the growth of new tourist attractions, but of those that will benefit many; not just a few.

A online poll on the dolphin issue drew nearly 4,000 responses, of which 92 per cent were opposed to any type of captive dolphin facility in the Cayman Islands.

Proponents of the facilities say there is a need for a new tourism attraction in the Cayman Islands and that dolphinariums will fit the bill.

They also say that a captive dolphin facility will draw more tourists and therefore more dollars to the country’s coffers.

They also tout the educational aspects of a marine park and the knowledge humans can gain by interacting with these mammals.

As in every issue, there are two sides to every story.

It’s up to Government to ultimately decide whether captured dolphin facilities are a good match for the Cayman Islands, and specifically for Grand Cayman.

In making that decision they must listen to the public and agencies like CITA as well as the proponents.

The decision must be made based on a complete study of the issue and not just for monetary gain for either the Government or the developers of captive dolphin facilities.

Confusion between dolphin's distress and mating call

It was 8:20 a.m. Tuesday when a Port Richey police dispatcher got the call.

A resident on Sunset Boulevard reported seeing an injured dolphin near Harbor Pointe at channel marker 17, at the mouth of the Pithlachascotee River.

The animal was bleeding. Preparing for the worst, officials sprang into action.

The dispatcher called Florida Marine Patrol at 8:24.

A veterinarian from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium was called at 8:30

At 8:45, the Port Richey Police Department's marine unit arrived in wet suits and went down the river using two boats borrowed from a civilian.

At 9:15, the Port Richey Fire Department was called.

Police Sgt. David Brown said the scene "gave the appearance the other dolphins were trying to help by nosing, or pushing, the injured dolphin to the surface.

Closer inspection by veterinarian Janine Cianciolo told a different story: A female dolphin was surrounded by two male dolphins. She was bleeding because the trio had been horsing around.
The injury was minor, leading the Fire Department to cancel the call at 10:47.

"What looked like dolphin distress turned out to be a mating procedure," Brown said. "It wasn't a dolphin in distress call. It was a Mother Nature call. I'm sure the dolphins were saying, "Go away, leave us alone.' "

Council member Phyllis Grae, who lives nearby, said the dolphin behavior was something she has seen before.

"They love to mate on those waters," she said. "We see that a lot. I guess it's calm and serene."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Pod of dolphins stranded by low tide

Yesterday's low tide left a trapped pod of 11 common dolphins swimming in circles inside Barnstable Harbor.

On the springlike afternoon, the harborside pier was an impromptu aquarium, with mammal models offering a watery show for a curious crowd of onlookers.
First spotted in the late morning, the dolphins apparently entered the harbor during high tide and were trapped when the waters receded.

''It doesn't look like a very serious situation so far,'' Janet Valente of the Cape Cod Stranding Network said at around 3 p.m.

Perhaps a bit confused, the dolphins did not appear injured, and at times, even seemed playful as children pointed and camera shutters clicked. The dolphins had plenty of water to safely swim in while waiting for the tides to switch, Valente said.

But, she added, it wasn't an everyday scene.

At the low tide's lowest point, shortly after 3 p.m., hesitant efforts by the pod to reach the ocean through the mouth of the harbor were futile, with a sandbar nearly completely blocking the pass.
Occasionally, a lead dolphin would try to guide the group out of the bind, only to spin around when the water became too shallow.

As the sun began to set, other members of the stranding network arrived. With high tide expected around 9:30 p.m., it looked like the dolphins may be resigned to wait on Mother Nature.
If the dolphins didn't swim free on their own, the stranding network was considering a plan to launch a boat equipped with ''pingers,'' devices that use a high frequency acoustic signal to herd the mammals in a certain direction.

Dick Rudders, a Barnstable resident of more than 30 years, paced the pier watching the pod somewhat quizzically.

''Every once in a while, something happens around here,'' Rudders said. ''But this is a little surprising.''

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Chemicals in Indian River Lagoon affect dolphins health in several ways!

Scientists have discovered chemicals used to fireproof plastics and products in the blood and blubber of bottlenose dolphin in the Indian River Lagoon.

They don't yet know for certain how the chemicals got there, but they suspect they could be playing a role in the new diseases, such as herpes, that are attacking the marine mammals.

"The data suggests at this point that these flame retardants suppress a part of the immune system that makes antibodies," said Greg Bossart, one of the researchers who made the discovery. "There's a potential of opening up these animals to a Pandora's box of diseases."

Bossart and his colleagues found flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs in tests of dolphin in the lagoon and in Charleston Harbor, S.C. They measured mean levels of total PBDEs in lagoon dolphin at about 1,500 parts per billion in fat tissue, more than three times the highest levels found in humans, 500 parts per billion.

Bossart said the research hasn't determined what level of PBDEs has significant effect on dolphin or human health.

"What we do know is that we found these chemicals," he said. "My concern is that we're documenting these emerging diseases in bottlenose dolphins."

For example, when the dolphin health study began in 2003, his research team found no oral or genital tumors on lagoon bottlenose dolphin. Last year, 47 percent had tumors.

"There's something that's going on that's allowing this disease to manifest itself," Bossart said.
The team plans to publish its results in coming months.


In the third of five years, the study compares the health of lagoon bottlenose to bottlenose in Charleston Harbor. Most of the $1.25 million for study--scientists have spent about $800,000 so far -- comes from sales of Florida's dolphin license plates.

Bossart and his colleagues drew blood and plasma samples from 113 bottlenose dolphin -- ages 3.5 to 28 years old -- in the lagoon and harbor in summers 2003 and 2004.

He said the South Carolina dolphin tested at higher levels of PBDEs than lagoon dolphin likely because the area has more industry.

Bossart said the PBDEs may be linked to the increased rates of tumors caused by viruses, stomach ulcers from bacterial infections and other conditions afflicting dolphin.

But the finding also raises concern about whether humans may be at risk.

Studies show PBDEs don't break down easily and may be linked to cancer and birth defects, including ones that affect brain and thyroid development.

"It's not readily metabolized by the body," said Erin Hughes, marine biologist and aquatic toxicologist at University of Florida's Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology. "They will biomagnify in larger organisms. They stick to fat and blubber."

Human impact

PBDEs are widely used flame retardants rising rapidly in human tissues. Studies have found them in blood, breast milk and fat. They're blended into plastics and foams used for computer casings, carpet pads and foam cushions on chairs and couches.

A California ban on two forms of PBDEs takes effect later this year.

People can take in the chemical by contact but mostly ingest it from foods. Salmon and catfish typically have the highest levels among fish, tilapia the lowest, according to studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pork, sausage and bacon can also have high levels.

PBDEs settle in sediments, then make their way up the food chain to marine mammals, fish and bird eggs. They run off in stormwater and seep up from contaminated groundwater and sewage.
"Wastewater's probably the most likely source of this," said John Windsor, a professor at Florida Tech's department of marine and environmental sciences. "It's hard to say exactly that these things are causing the effect, because there might be something else in the water we're not looking for causing the effect."

Health crisis

Windsor said PBDEs have not yet been found in the lagoon.

"It's too low in concentration, so it's hard to measure," he said. "We can analyze things at very low concentrations, we just don't know what the effects are."

The PBDE discovery adds to a growing list of chemicals and environmental stresses Bossart said might be clues to emerging dolphin epidemics.

"Our data certainly suggests that these animals are on the edge of a health crisis," he said.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Ailing dolphin seem to be recovering!

Marineland manager Gary Macdonald is remaining "very cautious" over the chances of Shona the dolphin surviving her current health scare, despite the mammal showing signs of getting her appetite back.

Mr Macdonald said Shona ate 6.1kg of fish yesterday, more than three times what she ate the day before. She normally eats up to seven kilograms of fish daily.

"She really upped the ante quite dramatically yesterday. "If we can see something similar happen today, I'll be a very happy chappy."

A full physical, including a blood test, was carried out on Shona last night.

Mr Macdonald said results from the examination were expected late tonight.

However, physically Shona appeared fine. Her blowhole was clear and there were no unexpected odours.

Such was the interest in Shona's wellbeing that Mr Macdonald estimated last night's physical was attended by about 20 members of the "Marineland wider fraternity."

Shona continues to swim listlessly around the Marineland pool, but Mr Macdonald said he had expected that to continue "no matter which way it goes."

Shona's fellow dolphin Kelly continued to check in on her ill poolmate, but Mr Macdonald said otherwise she appeared fine and was continuing to take part in the facility's daily shows.

Mr Macdonald said there was still huge public interest in the health of Shona. Ex-staff members and volunteers at Marineland had been coming in to see the dolphin, and he had also received e-mails from former employees. Current staff were also being regularly updated on the situation.
"They're so much a part of this, this is a total team effort," Mr Macdonald said.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Minnesota Zoo looses another dolphin!

The Minnesota Zoo has lost another dolphin.Rio, the zoo's oldest female dolphin, died Monday night. She was 35. Zoo officials were running tests to determine the cause of death.The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin arrived at the Minnesota Zoo in 1980 from the New York Aquarium.

During her 26 years at the zoo, Rio gave birth to four calves.One of Rio's calves, Harley, died in January after fracturing his skull when he jumped out of the water and hit his head on the concrete deck.The zoo has four Atlantic bottlenose dolphins left.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Despite no diagnosis, captive dolphin is on antibiotics

The manager of New Zealand's only marine zoo is concerned about the health of one of its two remaining dolphins.Gary McDonald, from Marineland in Napier, says 38-year-old Shona has been unwell for more than a fortnight.He says she has been eating very little and is lethargic.

Mr McDonald says a variety of veterinary tests have failed to show up any abnormalities, but the dolphin is on antibiotics as a precautionary measure.He says Shona and the other dolphin, 36-year-old Kelly, hold the key to the future of Marineland in its present form.

According to some people, dolphins in captivity is only negative

Captive dolphin swim-with parks have no substantiated positive effects on either dolphins or people beyond providing profits for owners. The dolphins are kept in an unnatural environment, deprived of normal behaviors.

Despite being carefully (and expensively) monitored, doctored, protected and cosseted, captive dolphins neither live longer than nor reproduce more survivors than their counterparts in the wild. Any “educational” value of the programs for human participants is distorted by the perversity of the entire situation.

Thanks to organizations worldwide, like Keep Dolphins Free, the paying public is becoming more aware that imprisoning intelligent animals for amusement and profit is cruel. Already cruise lines are taking dolphin parks off their lists of available tours.

More and more people are finding it unacceptable to capture dolphins for parks. It would serve the Cayman Islands Tourism Association best to disassociate itself from this industry as quickly and firmly as possible.

Rotten fate for 40 dolphins

FORTY stripy dolphins which died after stranding themselves on a remote beach in Western Australia's southwest will be left to rot because of the difficulty in accessing the site.Officers from the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) spent an emotional night trying to save nine of the dolphins, which were still alive when rescuers reached the beach. But they failed in their efforts.

A team of 30 CALM officers, volunteers and a local veterinary used quad bikes and walked for up to 5km to locate the mammals, which were spotted from the air over a 30km stretch of beach earlier in the day.

"Physically it was very draining and hard, and not to have a positive result was quite distressing for some of our team," CALM parks and visitor services officer David Meehan said.

CALM spokeswoman Jean Stewart said the dead animals were weighed, measured and sexed, and tissue samples had been taken, but their bodies would not be buried.

"Unfortunately we can't do anything about the remains and carcasses because (the area) is so inaccessible," Ms Stewart said.

The stranding occurred about 100km south of the Dolphin Bay boat ramp in Bussleton, 232km south of Perth, where more than 50 false killer whales beached themselves in June last year.
In April 2005, 13 long-finned pilot whales were rescued and helped back out to sea after a pod of 19 beached themselves in the Busselton area.

Mr Meehan said it was rare to see such a large stranding of stripy dolphins, which were deepwater mammals and rarely spotted close to shore.

"They may wash up in ones or twos but nothing of this magnitude," he said.
Aerial spotters will remain in the area to look out for further strandings.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Another dolphin park

Planning permission has been granted for the construction of two separate dolphin entertainment facilities in West Bay.

However, the parks need to fulfil other requirements in order to be permitted to open for business.
Dolphin Discovery (Cayman) Ltd. is a franchise with headquarters in Mexico and is to be located at the site of the old Turtle Farm in West Bay, as part of Boatswain’s Beach, but privately run.
Dolphin Cove Cayman is associated with Dolphin Cove Jamaica and is to be located south of Calypso Grill in Batabano, West Bay, by the North Sound.

Immediate past–Chairman of the Central Planning Authority Altee Thompson verified approval had been granted for the excavation and building of this facility in Batabano. He stressed that the CPA has nothing to do with the licensing of such a facility, and only gives approval to build.

Present Chairman of the CPA, Dalkeith Bothwell confirmed that planning approval for building has been granted for the Dolphin Discovery facility. However, he noted that although the project has planning permission to build, all other stipulations regarding the establishment of such a facility need to be met, such as criteria set down by the Department of Agriculture.

The eight dolphins for this facility are to come from Dolphin Discovery, Cancun, Mexico. However, just this year the Mexican Government has put into effect their amended Wildlife Law, saying that effective immediately the “Importation, exportation, and re–exportation of specimens of any marine mammal or primate species are prohibited”.

It is unclear whether this will hinder Dolphin Discovery (Cayman) Ltd. from importing eight bottlenose dolphins from Mexico. Efforts to reach one of the developers, Dale Crighton, were not successful, while Gene Thompson was off island this week.

It is understood that the dolphins for Dolphin Cove Cayman will come from Cuba. When contacted this week by the Caymanian Compass, Kent Eldemire of Tropical Real Estate Ltd., who is connected with this dolphin facility, said he had no comment.

In January 2002, the Mexican Wildlife Law amendment prohibited the capture of dolphins in Mexican waters. Up until now Mexico has served as the major holding and trans–shipment country for dolphins from Cuba, Solomon Islands and Japan, said a press release from local campaign group Keep Dolphins Free in the Cayman Islands.

Department of Agriculture Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Alfred Benjamin confirmed that animal import licences for dolphins have been granted to both entities. These are subject to certain health requirements at the time of importation and other requirements being in place prior to the importation of the animals. These form part of the Department of Agriculture’s conditions and include welfare concerns such as housing, husbandry and storm contingency plans.

A discharge permit must also be issued by the Water Authority, and the process is being worked on for Dolphin Discovery (Cayman). It is not yet confirmed that a discharge permit has been granted to Dolphin Cove Cayman.

The Water Authority is charged with protecting the ground water and water that flows from land into the sea.

The Department of Environment is working with the agencies and authorities involved in the dolphin park approval process to ensure that impacts on the natural environment are considered appropriately, said DoE Director Gina Ebanks–Petrie.

It is understood that another franchise out of Honduras, Living Sea, is also seeking to set up an operation, also in West Bay.

Keep Dolphins Free in the Cayman Islands has commended the Mexican organisations who have worked with their Government to implement the change in law.

“Mexico now joins other countries that in recent years are stopping the spread of the captive dolphin tourist entertainment park industry. Some of the countries prohibiting the trade in captive dolphins are the Solomon Islands, Panama, Australia, Netherlands Antilles, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Haiti.

“Cuba is now the only Caribbean country capturing and exporting dolphins for the captive dolphin tourist entertainment park industry,” said a KDFCI release.

Spokesperson for KDFCI Billy Adam said neither the previous nor current Government have responded to a letter written to the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee on 23 March, 2004 requesting information and querying the requirements of the Animals Law (2003 Revision).

“Since then other requests for information from this and the previous Government on the status of the establishment of the captive dolphin tourist entertainment parks and Government’s compliance with international environmental obligations remain unanswered,” he said.

Speaking as Chairman of the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee Dr. Benjamin said he has supplied the Ministry for District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing with the information to respond to Mr. Adam’s queries.

The release goes on to point out environmental factors relating to these types of attractions. “Around the world, marine environmental damage to reefs and other marine life is also caused by the nutrient and bacteria in sewage outflows from captive dolphin tourist entertainment parks.
“In the Cayman Islands, the raw farm sewage outflow, however, would first pass through the Government–owned Cayman Turtle Farm, before further polluting our already damaged marine environment. Therefore, Government will have contributory liabilities.”

The KDFCI group points out that the CITA’s watersports division has for many years clearly stated that after studying the captive dolphin entertainment industry they do not support Government allowing them here. The Cayman Humane Society has also expressed to Government that they are against it.

The Marine Conservation Board has also spoken out against the setting up a swim–with–dolphins facility, saying that the Cayman Islands’ unique tourism product can be undermined by such an addition and counter to the Cayman Islands reputation as en environmentally responsible, proactive, marine–based tourism destination.

The Board has also acknowledged the dolphins are more predisposed to the adversities of captivity than are most other animals.

Is it right to have dolphins in parks?

AN official position from the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) on captive dolphins in the Cayman Islands is expected shortly.

Last week, CITA conducted a survey of its 190-member organisation and asked them: “Do you or do you not think there should be captive dolphin parks in the Cayman Islands?”

The findings from the member only survey will be discussed with members before CITA states its official position on the controversial issue to Government and the public.

“The results from the survey will be used to formulate the official CITA position, which will be communicated to government and the media.

“Whether you are for them, against them or do not have a position, please take one minute to complete the survey,” CITA said in an email soliciting opinions.

Executive Director of CITA, Ken Thompson, said a discussion paper was circulated amongst members and the developers of the dolphin park, but no comment came from the latter.
According to Mr Thompson, the online survey, which ran from 23 to 24 February, will gauge the opinions of a varied membership.

“We’re keeping an open mind because we have a wide variety of members,” he said. “We won’t let one section of the organisation dominate, we want to represent a wide cross section.”

Controversy began last March when Dolphin Discovery Cayman Ltd was granted a license to import eight dolphins by the Department of Agriculture for a new Dolphinarium in West Bay.

Business partners, Gene Thompson and Dale Crighton, have been defending their dolphin tourist attraction, which is under attack from the Keep Dolphins Free group in Cayman.

Spokesman for Keep Dolphins Free, Billy Adam, said its campaign is based on “raising community awareness on the environmental and humanitarian issues of dolphins in captivity.”

Mr Adam said catching dolphins in the wild is often brutal and statistics have shown that dolphins have shorter life spans in captivity.

In defending his multi-million dollar facility, Gene Thompson said all health and safety conditions would be met before the arrival of the bottlenose dolphins.

“There are numerous conditions to be met including the facilities, storage and food. All these conditions have to be met before the final importation,” he said.

He added that the swim-with-dolphin programme would offer a phenomenal experience for both visitors and locals when the dolphinarium is opened in the summer.

He explained that a first-class attraction and lagoon next to the Turtle Farm would be built to the highest standards in the US and other parts of the world.

That argument has not won over the Free Dolphin activists who are worried that dolphin waste may cause health problems for swimmers and damage to coral reefs.

CITA is in the meantime not taking sides, saying it will await the vote of its members and Government’s undeclared position on the issue.

Although it’s legal to import the dolphins, the Government said in the past it would review the matter.

Gene Thompson said Dolphin Discovery Cayman would meet the specific conditions to satisfy its licence.

The Keep Dolphins Free organisation, according to Mr Adam, would continue to campaign against dolphin entertainment facilities.

The future plans of Dolphin Discovery Cayman are to deepen and increase the size of the lagoon to allow for 20 dolphins.

“Dolphins are magnificent creatures, not rides in an amusement park as Dolphin Discovery would make them out to be,” said Mr Adam.

CITA’s position will be made public in the coming days, said Mr Ken Thompson.

Dolphin dies due to tides

Extreme tides have been blamed for the death of a dolphin in the Derwent River, off Claremont, in Tasmania.

Two male dolphins became stranded on mud flats in Windermere Bay at 11:00am AEDT.
One of them was dead when wildlife officers arrived.

Andrew Irvine, from the Environment Department, believes the dolphins were chasing fish near the shore and became trapped as the tide went out quickly.

He says two officers saved the other one by dragging it back into the river.

"It's quite slippery mud. So they just sort of slid the animal along the mud. Got it into the shallow water and once the animal's in the water it can start cooling down," he said.

"That's probably it's biggest threat when it's on land, is overheating.

"So once it's in the water then they can stabilise it, make sure the animal can right itself and is breathing okay."

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"