Saturday, April 29, 2006

Investigation about the death of 400 plus beached dolphins!

Scientists tried to discover Saturday why hundreds of dolphins washed up dead on a beach popular with tourists on the northern coast of Zanzibar.

Among other possibilities, marine biologists were examining whether U.S. Navy sonar threw the animals off course.

Villagers and fishermen were burying the remains of the roughly 400 bottlenose dolphins, which normally live in deep offshore waters but washed up Friday along a 2-mile stretch of coast in Tanzania's Indian Ocean archipelago.

The animals may have been disturbed by some unknown factor, or poisoned, before they became stranded in shallow waters and died, said Narriman Jiddawi, a marine biologist at the Institute of Marine Science of the University of Dar es Salaam.

Experts planned to examine the dolphins' heads to assess whether they had been affected by military sonar.

Some scientists surmise that loud bursts of sonar, which can be heard for miles in the water, may disorient or scare marine mammals, causing them to surface too quickly and suffer the equivalent of what divers call the bends — when sudden decompression forms nitrogen bubbles in tissue.
A U.S. Navy task force patrols the coast of East Africa as part of counterterrorism operations. A Navy official was not immediately available for comment, but the service rarely speaks about the location of submarines at sea.

A preliminary examination of their dolphins' stomach contents failed to show the presence of squid beaks or other remains of animals hunted by dolphins.

That was an indication that the dolphins either had not eaten for a long time or had vomited, Jiddawi said.

Their general condition, however, appeared to show that they had eaten recently, since their ribs were not clearly visible under the skin, she said.

Although Jiddawi said Friday that poisoning had been ruled out, experts were preparing to further examine the dolphins' stomachs for traces of poisonous substances such as toxic "red tides" of algae.

Zanzibar's resorts attract many visitors who come to watch and swim with wild humpback dolphins, which generally swim closer to shore than the Indo-Pacific bottlenose.

The humpbacks, bottlenose, and spinner dolphins are the most common species in Zanzibar's coastal waters.

The most conclusive link between the use of military sonar and injury to marine mammals was observed from the stranding of whales in 2000 in the Bahamas. The U.S. Navy later acknowledged that sonar likely contributed to the stranding of the extremely shy species.

"These animals must have been disoriented and ended up in shallow waters, where they died," Abdallah Haji, a 43-year-old fisherman, said Saturday as he helped bury the dolphins near the bloodied beach.

Residents had cut open the animals' bellies to take their livers, which they use to make waterproofing material for boats.

"We have never seen this type of dolphin in our area," said Haji, who said he has fished in Zanzibar's waters for more than two decades.

Dolphin, victim of harassment

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said eyewitnesses saw boats chasing the dolphin in Seaford Bay, off the Sussex coast.

Director, Tony Woodley, said: "We have noticed this type of incident is dramatically on the increase."

The male dolphin sparked a rescue alert off Seaford Beach last Friday after it was reported to be in distress.

Mr Woodley said boats had been chasing the dolphin in the bay.

The last thing we want to do is drive these animals away from our coast and their feeding grounds
Marine mammal medic Stephen Marsh

He said the number of incidents like this were on the increase because of "the casual boat owner's total ignorance of the law and how to behave when encountering marine wildlife".

Mr Woodley added: "It is an offence to harass a dolphin and a conviction carries a maximum sentence of £5,000 or a six month jail term."

National co-ordinator, Trevor Weeks, said the dolphin had remained in the area to feed.
'Uncommon sight'

"There's a lot of mackerel close to the shore," he said.

"It's very uncommon to see a bottlenose dolphin in the English Channel."

Mr Weeks believes boat owners would not harass dolphins if they had a better knowledge of the animals, their behaviour and the law which protects them.

Marine mammal medic, Stephen Marsh, who was called to last Friday's rescue alert, said: "The last thing we want to do is drive these animals away from our coast and their feeding grounds.
"Anyone witnessing harassment of any marine life should contact the Wildlife Liaisons Officers at Sussex Police."

Sea life park celebrate birth of dolphin

Sea Life Park is welcoming its newest addition. Hi'iaka, a bottlenose dolphin gave birth to a healthy baby calf named Lupita on March 22nd. The baby calf is under the close care and supervision of the park staff. Baby Lupita has been spending her time by her mother's side nursing every 20 to 40 minutes.

"Within five to ten minutes, the baby popped out," says Animal trainer Tammy Goodreau.
Goodreau was one of the staffers who welcomed the healthy 40 pound calf into the world.
"It was just excitement. It definitely brings you closer because within a day, Hi'iaka the mother was having us come up and rub her down," says Goodreau.

Goodreau admits, she treats the dolphins like her kids.

"These are absolutely, absolutely our children. We care for them. We care for them deeply."
In fact, she strives to build a trusting relationship with the mammals.

"You're dealing with animals that are sometimes over 500 to 800 pounds, there has to be a trust, a strong trust factor," says Goodreau.

"She's going to learn to interact with dolphins and other trainers through the help with trainers and develop the many skills on how she can interact with them to make it fun and exciting," says Park General Manager Dr. Renato Lenzi.

Dr. Lenzi says the birth of Lupita is important in helping to restore the dolphin population.
"The success rate in the wild is less than 50% of dolphins will be able to have successful birth in calves to reach one year of age.

Lupita will spend the next two years nursing by her mother's side. Tammy and the other staffers will be right there, watching her grow.

"You have to love this job. You have to love this job, because it is, it is a life commitment," says Goodreau.

No one knows for sure who her father is. Staffers hope DNA testing will prove it. To celebrate Lupita's birth Sea Life Park is offering special guided tours and a party on May 5th, which marks Cinco de Mayo.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dolphin repeatedly beached itself before being put down

A beached dolphin was euthanized yesterday after it repeatedly swam back to shore at Bellows Beach. The dolphin was first seen at 6:30 a-m by area residents. They tried to take the dolphin back into deeper water, but it kept swimming back to shore. Honolulu firefighters, Bellows Air Force Base security and conservation officers from the Department of Land and Natural Resources also helped.

But officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration decided to euthanized the dolphin. Marine biologist David Schofield says a necropsy will be done today to try to determine why the dolphin stranded itself. Schofield says some 20 to 25 dolphins and whales strand themselves in Hawaii every year.

Workers take the time to rescue baby dolphin

Engineers working on the £14m project at the Leven Viaduct called in a hovercraft when the dolphin was spotted struggling at low tide in the estuary.

It was caught and taken to deeper water where it swam away.

Network Rail's Keith Lumley said: "While safety of passengers and rail workers is our main priority, dolphins come pretty high up on the list."

'Path to freedom'

Mr Lumley, who was taking a group of visitors to the work site when the dolphin was spotted, said: "The poor creature had obviously lost her way and was floundering in the shallow water.

"She looked like a baby dolphin and there was no sign of her mother.

"The workers were concerned that the sparks from the work would frighten the dolphin, and work was suspended while the hovercraft set the dolphin on the path to freedom."

Work on the viaduct is on course to be completed on time and will allow the railway line between Grange-over-Sands and Barrow-in-Furness to reopen in mid-July, Network Rail said.

The line has been closed since the end of March while the work takes place.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Investigation launched about dolphin's death

The lone Atlantic white-sided dolphin that ventured up the Pawcatuck River and captured the affections of the public died at Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration late Thursday night.
David Labbe, aquarium director of public relations, said Friday that the dolphin died after being rescued from the river and transported to the aquarium.He said aquarium officials have not determined a cause of death."They're usually very sick when we get them.

We try to help them and get them better, but this one was much sicker than we thought," Labbe said.A necropsy, or autopsy, has been scheduled and test results are expected in around three weeks."We don't know if we'll ever know," Labbe said.

After wandering up the river and being spotted by a Westerly boater around 5:30 a.m., the 5.5-foot-long dolphin with white stripes down its gray body drew locals to the river's banks. To the crowd's delight, the animal surfaced occasionally under the Westerly-Pawcatuck bridge in the morning and moved further up the river in the afternoon.

Aquarium officials and volunteers evaluated the dolphin throughout the day and answered questions from the public.Dolphins grow distressed when people touch them, Labbe said, so aquarium officials opted to leave the animal alone as long as it appeared to be healthy and not trapped.The dolphin showed no signs of district until shortly before 7 p.m. when it beached itself in some brush along the riverbank behind the old Hotel Savoy.

"It didn't look like the same dolphin we had earlier," Labbe said.Rescuers were called in and Westerly Ambulance Corps members helped aquarium officials lift the dolphin onto a stretcher and into a boat. They submersed the animal and poured water on it, placing it into a pickup truck for transport to the aquarium.At the aquarium, husbandry officials performed blood tests and placed it in a shallow pool for observation, prior to its death.

Labbe said the dolphin showed some signs of trouble. It did not resist the rescuers, was found at 116 pounds to be underweight and had some abrasions on its body. The species, he added, rarely ventures out alone.Officials said they still do not know why the dolphin traveled up the brackish river."It may have been as simple as it wasn't feeling great and followed some fish up," Labbe said.Labbe reminded members of the public to call the aquarium if they encounter a marine animal. Never attempt to feed or approach the animal, he said.

Sad ending for rescued dolphin!

An Atlantic white-sided dolphin that swam up the Pawcatuck River on Thursday died overnight, despite intensive treatment from specialists at the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration.
The wayward dolphin, which was taken to the aquarium Thursday night when it became entangled in brush in the river near Westerly, R.I., was sicker than first thought and did not survive through the night, an aquarium spokesman said Friday.

Noris Bohachevsky, the aquarium's curator for marine mammals and birds, said the dolphin was underweight and had some abrasions. It was so weak that the rescue team had to keep it afloat.
"There's no way we should have been able to remove him from the water. That's a sign something is wrong," Bohachevsky told The Day of New London on Thursday night.

He said it was unusual for an Atlantic white-sided dolphin to travel alone up a river from the ocean, as the animals typically live in large groups.

Crowds had gathered throughout Thursday to watch the 6-foot-long dolphin swim up the river, which splits downtown Westerly and Pawcatuck, Conn.

"My daughter called me this morning, and she said, 'Like, wow, Mom. You have to come down and see this'," said Maureen Zaharie of Pawcatuck, who waited on the banks of the river with her camera ready.

Spectators and a member of the Mystic Aquarium's rescue team said the dolphin appeared to be swimming normally Thursday morning, not listing or colliding with the riverbanks.

Shannon Saunders, a member of the aquarium's stranding rescue team, surmised that the dolphin initially was healthy when it pursued a school of fish swimming upriver to spawn.

"They're binge eaters," she said. Often after filling up on herring or other fish, dolphins will relax by wandering around an area.

The dolphin's condition worsened throughout the afternoon until it became entangled in brush around 7 p.m. Thursday, prompting aquarium specialists and the Westerly Ambulance Corps to rescue it and transport it to the aquarium.

Once there, they drew blood from its tail, and measured and weighed it before placing it in the pool. Rescue team members took turns through the chilly night standing in the water with the dolphin, but it was too weak and sick to survive until Friday morning.

Another dolphin rescue

Volunteers rescued a dolphin that was stranded on Barley Point Island in the Navesink River in Rumson Thursday morning.

A resident called police just before 8:20 a.m. to tell them about the animal stuck in the mud during low tide on the island, which is mostly home to bungalows and summer houses, Sgt. Robert Boyer said.

Police set up a staging area at the municipal boat ramp behind borough hall, and called the local animal control officer, conservation officers and the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine. The U.S. Coast Guard stopped boat traffic from entering the area, and police shut down the ramp.

Trained volunteers who work with the stranding center arrived about an hour later, paddled out to the dolphin in kayaks and freed the animal.

Then they continued to paddle along, escorting the dolphin to make sure it found its way to the main channel of the Navesink. Coast Guard members planned to keep an eye on the animal to make sure it continued to head toward the ocean.

Boyer said seals periodically sun themselves on the beach but he has never before seen a dolphin in those waters.

The volunteers told police the dolphin appeared to be older. Boyer said it likely found its way to Barley Point after swimming around the tip of Sandy Hook, into the bay, and down to the Shrewsbury River, turning into the Navesink, then heading to the back channels and the island.
"It's quite a journey," he said, estimating that the trip is about 10 miles and would take about a half-hour by boat.

Baby dolphin rescued and recuperating!

A baby dolphin weighing some 75kg was rescued from Benidorm's Poniente beach on Tuesday and taken to the Terra Natura wildlife park, where it is recuperating satisfactorily, according to park director, Manuel Lopez.

The four hour rescue was undertaken by members of the park's aquatic division as well as by members of the technical staff at Valencia's Oceanografic museum.

Mr Lopez added that the dolphin is not yet one year old, and as yet has no teeth. As a result it was still feeding on mother's milk when it was discovered "in a pretty poor way."

However, after a day in the care of the park's experts, the animal started to improve, and will probably continue treatment in the installations of the Oceanografic later this week.

Dolphin, an unexpected attraction

An unlikely visitor to the Pawcatuck River drew quite a crowd Thursday.

"Lived here for a while and never saw this before," said one woman.

All eyes were on a five-foot dolphin that took a leisurely swim along the Westerly-Pawcatuck line.
"I got my camera out, and I came down with the baby and tried to get a look at it," Michelle Lussier, of Hopkinton, said.

The dolphin really started to cause a public spectacle Thursday morning when it swam near a downtown bridge.

At the Somerset Tea House, the dolphin was almost too much of a pre-occupation.
"We were down watching the dolphin instead of making soup. So, today we don't have soup," Karen Hayden said.

Scientists from
Mystic Aquarium have seen the dolphin. They said it appears happy and healthy, and it probably just followed some fish upstream.

"It was remarkable, really. I don't know what the dolphin's doing in the river," Rena Debortoli, of Westerly, said.

The experts at Mystic think the Atlantic white dolphin will swim out on its own in a few days. If not, they'll re-evaluate.

For now, it's the star attraction. But scientists urged spectators not to feed the dolphin or try to swim with it.

Starlight Children's Foundation grant wish to ill child

A YOUNG Noble Park girl who suffered failure of both kidneys has been given the opportunity to fulfil her dream of patting a dolphin.Alison Tang, a grade five student at Wallarano Primary School, will this weekend fly with her family to the Gold Coast for one week as part of a special wish granted by the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

The fulfilment of her wish comes at a time when Starlight is urgently seeking volunteers to help raise funds for wish-granting.Alison, 10, was diagnosed with kidney disease two years ago, and spent one year on dialysis at age nine.Her father, Khong Tang, said the moment was painful for the family as they witnessed both of Alison’s kidneys fail, helpless to do anything except wait for a kidney donor.“We were at first very stressed and very upset,” he said.“Alison was very scared at first, it was hard for her while eating, she was very stressed.“

She was crying all the time, complaining about pain in her tummy.”The family will spend one week staying a resort-style hotel on the Gold Coast and visiting the regions’ premier theme parks, including Sea World, where Starlight volunteers have organised for her to pat a dolphin – her special wish.Alison said she was excited about the trip.“I like dolphins because they live in the water, and I also like water as well,” she said.“They are one of my favourite animals.”But with medical costs keeping the family finances drained, Mr Tang admitted that without the help of the Starlight Children’s Foundation, a family trip to the Gold Coast was unobtainable.

“We have no money to go with the whole family, so this is very good for Alison, we feel very happy for her.”Alison, who has endured more than the average 10-year-old, said she planned to become a doctor after finishing her schooling.“I want to be a kidney specialist because I have kidney disease and I would like to treat lots of children who have kidney disease as well,” she said.

The Starlight Children’s Foundation this week said it was struggling to find volunteers for its major fundraiser, Star Day, on 5 May.Spokeswoman Melissa Hay said the organisation needed 1800 Victorian volunteers to help raise $2 million nationally to continue granting wishes such as Alison’s, but so far only had 600 volunteers.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Lifeguards save dolphin's life!

Crowds gathered around Carlsbad State Beach Sunday afternoon as lifeguards helped a disoriented dolphin back out into deeper water, authorities said.The six-foot-long adult dolphin was acting strangely and swimming into shore between Pine Street and Tamarack Avenue for several hours beginning about 2 p.m., said state park lifeguard Capt. Karl Tallman.

"Basically this thing is just kind of cruising along the surf line," Tallman said shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday. "They typically don't come anywhere near the shore."

The unusual behavior could have been due to illness from the toxic algae that causes red tide, he said.Employees with Sea World had been notified and were expected to come out and nurse the ailing dolphin back to health, Tallman said.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tagging dolphin's program is back

Don Hammond's Dolphin Tagging Study is back.

Because of donations from individual sports fishermen, fishing clubs and marine conservation foundations from the Florida Keys to Jackson Hole, Wyo., the important tagging study will continue.
For four years, Hammond headed the dolphin tagging project for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and data resulting from nearly 5,000 tagged dolphin revealed some startling discoveries about the ocean pelagic.

Of particular interest were the great distances some of the fish migrated between the time they were tagged and recaptured.

Some were recovered thousands of miles from the tagging point, after moving to areas where no one dreamed fish from the Atlantic Coast would venture. One fish traveled 2,487 miles and another 1,046 miles, and those types of recaptures gave scientists new insight into possible migration routes used by the dolphinfish.

Last year Hammond retired after 35 years as a marine fisheries biologist in South Carolina. Because of budgeting problems, the state's natural resources department wasn't able to continue the project.

Hammond wanted to go forward with the study under his private direction, but he needed the public's support.

"People have made it very clear they want to see this highly successful study continue," Hammond said.

Some individuals donated as much as $3,000, and donations of $5,000 each came from the Marine Ventures Foundation based in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the Grady White Boat Co. in Greenville, N.C. The Central Florida Offshore Anglers of Orlando was among fishing clubs donating $2,000.

Hammond has formed the Cooperative Science Services of Charleston, S.C., and in addition to his dolphin tagging study, he plans other studies using satellite tags on dolphin and cobia.
Hammond is encouraging more offshore anglers to become involved. Previous taggers such as Mark Wilson of Rockledge, who is pictured in the study's latest bulletin, are invited to continue along with new taggers.

Hammond said tags for the 2006 study will be a new color and will carry a different legend. The tags now are available, and tag applicators will be provided.

The tagging requires a little extra work and bookkeeping. For each fish tagged, information needed includes the date, GPS positions, fork length, water depth and water temperature.
Obviously, there's a great deal of satisfaction when a tagged fish is recaptured and you learn it was one of your fish.

"The 2006 study truly is a case of fisheries research by the fishermen," Hammond said. "All the field-data collection is being done by fishermen, and it is being financed by fishermen and associated industry.

"Dolphinfish are too important to the recreational industry to wait on a decline in their stock to begin collecting needed management data."

Donations can be addressed to Cooperative Science Services, 961 Anchor Road, Charleston, S.C. 29412-4902. Hammond can be contacted at, or at (843) 795-7524. The website is

For those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation, Hammond is using the financial assistance of the nonprofit Hilton Head Reef Foundation in Hilton Head, S.C., which will channel all donations into the dolphin study.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dolphin drive hunts, a cruel practice in Japan

The practice of dolphin drive hunts in Japan is cruel and is being fueled by the high prices that aquarium owners are willing to pay for the animals, according to environmentalists.

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in Britain says it is demand from aquariums, both in and outside Japan, which "has now become the primary motivation for the hunts to continue."According to WDCS, more than 6,000 dolphins and small whales were killed in drive hunts in Japan between 2000 and 2004. Nearly 250 dolphins were taken alive from the hunts and were expected to have been placed in aquariums.

Drive hunts are currently conducted in Futo, Shizuoka Prefecture, and Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture.In these hunts, fishermen place metal bars in the water and bang on them. This causes dolphins to head for the shore where they are captured by nets, according to WDCS.Some of the animals are injured and suffocate in the nets.

Aquarium staff select the young and appealing dolphins while the remainder are slaughtered. Their throats are sometimes cut or they are stabbed. They may be left to bleed to death in the water or slaugtherhouse, often taking several minutes to die, says WDCS.The Japanese government advises cutting spinal cords in order to reduce the time to death.

With little demand for dolphin meat and an increase in whale-watching, drive hunts were thought to be coming to an end. However, continuing demand from aquariums means that the practice is still going on, according to the campaigners.They estimate prices in Japan range between $3,300 and $6,200 per animal. This is far less than the price for a dead dolphin which was estimated in 1996 to be around $300.

Prices are higher for animals exported overseas to aquariums in China, Taiwan and the Philippines.The dolphins captured in the hunts have a significantly shorter life span due to the stress involved. Captivity also reduces their longevity, WDCS says.In October 2005, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums stated, "The catching of dolphins by the use of a method known as 'drive fishing' is considered...a non-acceptable capture method."

Anticaptivity Campaigner for WDCS Cathy Williamson said, "We believe that people would not visit aquariums holding animals captured in drive hunts if they knew the truth about the cruel way in which the whales and dolphins came to be there."These animals are highly intelligent, self-aware beings. During the hunts they suffer extreme fear and distress, not to mention the pain of slaughter, over a prolonged period of time. Added to this is the stress of confinement in captivity, torn from their families and the life of freedom they enjoyed in the wild. If you want to help us to end the drive hunts in Japan, please log on to and find out more."

Currently, more than 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales are killed around the coastlines of Japan in drive hunts, hand-held harpoon and cross bow hunts, and in so-called 'small type coastal whaling', where harpoons are fired from a boat's bow, according to WDCS.

China intends to set up protection for rare dolphin

China will set up its first reserve for the highly endangered Chinese white dolphin off the coast of Zhuhai, a city in east province of Fujian.The city has set aside 460 square kilometers for the reserve inGuandi bay at Qi'ao Island and will start construction before the end of this year, said Chen Jialin, director of the administrationof the state-level Chinese White Dolphin Natural Reserve at Pear River Estuary.

He said an emergency rescue center for the dolphins, also called "pandas in the ocean" for their rarity, will be built during the initial construction period.The Chinese white dolphin is a species unique to China and highon China's most-protected animal list. It is also one of the most endangered species in the world.

The dolphins' population is around 2,000 in China, over 1,000 of which are living in Pearl River Estuary, said Chen."Pollutants discharged into the water by paper mills, chemical plants and plating factories along the river has been destroying the dolphins' habitat and as a result, 19 dolphins has been died over the past three years," said Chen.

Marineland loses another dolphin

Marineland in Napier says a memorial for one of the park's two dolphins will not be held until her companion dies.

Shona died on Friday at the age of 36 after being ill for the past seven weeks.

The tourist attraction will be closed over the next few days, and two seals are being put in the pool with the remaining dolphin, Kelly, to keep her company.

Marineland's manager, Gary MacDonald, says Shona will be taken to Massey University for a post mortem today, but there will not be a memorial yet.

Mr MacDonald says the dolphin had been causing staff a lot of concern since early February when she stopped eating properly, but veterinary tests failed to show up any abnormalities. Staff noticed her at the bottom of the pool on Friday afternoon.

Mr MacDonald says Shona's death is a very sad event for all of Hawke's Bay and the staff at Marineland, who have a close and family-type relationship with all the animals in their care.
He says Marineland will be closed over the next few days as staff plan for the future.

Close down, says SAFE

Animal rights group Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE) says Marineland should be closed down or turned into a rehabilitation centre for injured animals.

SAFE says while the marine park is not allowed to take dolphins caught in the wild, it can replace the dead dolphin with one bred in another park.

But spokesperson Hans Kriek says that should not be allowed as it is a well-known fact that dolphins suffer in captivity.

He says dolphins in the wild can swim more than 100km a day, but obviously cannot do anything of the sort in a swimming pool.

Mr Kriek says it is the dolphins which attract visitors to Marineland, and he suspects Napier City Council will close it down eventually.

Dolphin lost in the Thames

RESCUERS were last night trying to find a dolphin that was reported to have swum up the Thames.

There have been several sightings of the dolphin - the last in the Chiswick area of West London.
Gavin Parsons, of the British Divers' Marine Life Rescue, said: "They do come up the river, but it's extremely unusual for one to get this far."

In January a whale that got stranded in the Thames died despite a huge rescue operation.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Napier's Marineland has only one dolphin left!

Napier's Marineland is confident it can continue to be a successful tourist attraction despite the death yesterday of one of its two dolphins. Shona, who was 36, had been unwell for eight weeks. The Napier City Council has been told by the Government that it is unlikely the marine park will be able to be granted a permit for importing dolphins bred in other zoos.

Marineland manager Gary Macdonald said: "I'm confident we will get through it. We've been working with a consultant for the past few years to deal with this situation but there is no doubt Marineland will change dramatically." The marine park - the only one of its type in the country - was known as "the dolphin pool" and while there was still one dolphin, Kelly, the programme would continue for the foreseeable future, he said.

As no replacement dolphins were allowed at Marineland, how long the programme continued would depend on the health of Kelly, who was around the same age as Shona, he said. "We'll keep the basic premise in mind that things will change - but not while we still have Kelly." A post-mortem examination on Shona will be done at Massey University. Marineland would be closed as staff organised an attraction with the one remaining dolphin.

Are dolphins in captivity really unhappy?

“Are the dolphins happy?” that was the simple but straightforward question posed by my companion to a world–class trainer on a recent trip to Jamaica to see swim–with–dolphin facilities in action.

World renowned marine mammal trainer Eric Bogden gets up close to one of his friends at Dolphin Cove, Ocho Rios

We had just visited Dolphin Lagoon, a private dolphin facility solely for guests of the Half Moon Bay Resort in Montego Bay and were now sitting at Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios speaking with world renowned mammal behaviourist and lecturer Eric Bogden.

Instead of bombarding us with scientific stats and facts regarding the animal’s emotional wellbeing, he merely answered, “That’s not a question for me. That’s for you to decide yourself when you see the dolphins. . .”

Corporate Director of Marine Animals for Dolphin Cove, which includes the Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and soon come Grand Cayman facility, Eric brings about 30 years of experience with him from his previous roles as Manager of Entertainment at Seaworld California and Director of Ocean World, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

Later on that day when the dolphins were swimming around doing their own thing I noticed one over to the side of the lagoon, standing up vertically in the water, spinning around and flapping his fins in the air as he would have during an interaction or training session. So what was going on with this dolphin? Was he going crazy in captivity? Or was he eager to please his trainers and felt the need to practice, or was he simply enjoying himself perfecting the move?

This is not uncommon, Eric informed me, more so perhaps when the dolphin has been taught a new move. He will take the time to try to figure it out and practice it while alone. He enjoys it.
Earlier at the other facility, Dolphin Lagoon, the two young males there, Bruno and Miguel, had been frolicking together in the water, tugging and chasing each–other playfully in the turquoise Caribbean Sea.

Something didn’t fit right. These were dolphins in captivity. They shouldn’t look happy. We’ve all heard why the anti–captive dolphin activists don’t want these facilities in Cayman.

Sure, they have smiles plastered on their faces continually, but they could be miserable under those grins.

However, observing these dolphins – the fun and frolics, the cheeky behaviour, the curiosity when we appear – this makes them seem content.

But, impossible – right? Most anti–captive dolphin activists point to the fact that these enclosed mammals live meagre existences in grey, concrete tank–like structures.


But, standing on a natural pristine Caribbean beach at Dolphin Lagoon I had seen the two bucksome young dolphins frolic in their section of ocean. This large area of the sea is cordoned off by loosely piled rocks and nearer to shore, netting. General Manager Neil Burrowes explains that the set–up allows the lagoon to be a continuation of the real ocean in which the boundary gaps allow for good tidal flow within the dolphin enclosure (which might roughly measure about 5,000 square metres). There are even small fish darting about the place. This is the ocean.

Some holding areas sit off to the side of the lagoon. These may be needed in case of medical care or if a need arises to separate the dolphins, I am told.

At Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios it is the same set up: Two open–style lagoons in the ocean. Here, at this much larger facility, there are eight dolphins in one large lagoon and six in the other.

Grand Cayman’s Dolphin Cove, which is to be near Morgan’s Harbour in West Bay, will also have a natural open layout, with a lagoon made from the sea and loosely piled rocks. Plans are ultimately for there to be 12 dolphins at this facility. Neil’s dad, Mr. Stafford Burrowes (owner of Dolphin Cove) asserts that the company is eager to begin training Caymanians to be dolphin trainers for the park here.

He speaks about how, when they changed the nets that enclose the lagoon at some points, the dolphins merely looked at what was going on, with no interest in swimming past into the ocean. He also maintains that at high tide the water is so high over the rocks the dolphins could easily jump over and escape if they wanted to.

So why not? I wonder. If dolphins are as intelligent as people say they are, why not escape? Could it be that they don’t mind being in captivity as much as we think they do?

So what about the work they have to do? Don’t they mind doing tricks all day for screaming tourists?

Human Interaction

Eric informs me that he would not refer to what they do as “work”, but if I mean interaction time they have with trainers and tourists, then none of them does any more than one to two hours per day, giving them at least 22 hours a day to “be dolphins”.

And what if they have a headache or feel in a bad mood and don’t want to face the tourists, even for a short session, what then?

They are free to swim away.

Training is totally based on positive reinforcement. Bad behaviour from a dolphin will get the mammal, at worst, ignored for three seconds by the trainer. The whistle is the primary re–enforcer of good behaviour, with food acting as a back up. How many hours the dolphins spend interacting with humans each day depends on the individual dolphin and what best suits its needs.

Neil asserts, “You can’t force a dolphin to do anything.” He explains that dolphins can leave the tourist interaction session whenever they choose, something they sometimes do. They often come back to the session. But when they want a break, they certainly take it.

For example, at Dolphin Lagoon the dolphins are involved in four interactive programmes a day, each of which lasts 30 minutes.

Daily Memo

A daily memo records their daily health and behaviours. One such memo regarding the dolphin Bruno includes observations of him leaving during a training session: “. . . split at the beginning. Ended session. Started again and he was much better. Did good behaviours.”

Another tourist encounter session observation reads, “Split once to Miguel (other dolphin) at platform but came back and did programme very well”.

Another beach diary marking reads, “excellent program, never split, nice slow passing touch/belly pass, ok fam photos, excellent kisses”.

One of the biggest challenges, said Neil, is keeping the mammals interested by varying their routines. Varying the times of programmes, training and their activities all play a role in this and keep the dolphins eager to participate in training and programmes.

Dolphin Cove in Jamaica permits eight people on a programme to two dolphins and the regulations in Cayman will be six people to every two dolphins and three people to every one animal.

The dolphins are fed five times a day regardless of how well they do in training or interaction. They are fed fish such as mackerel, herring, squid and capelin. It is imported frozen from Canada and defrosted, then gone through one by one for quality. The fish is at human quality consumption levels.

All this is very well – that the dolphins have good food to line their bellies –. but what about the environment? Isn’t dolphin excrement supposed to be detrimental to the precious coral reefs?


Neil explained that they had an independent study done by coastal and environmental engineering Firm Smith Warner, which concluded that the faeces of 12 dolphins is so small in the ocean that it is immeasurable.

Coliform tests are done at the dolphin facilities at least monthly, if not weekly, and quarterly a spate of different water samples are taken. The PH of the ocean is even measured.

Because the dolphins live in a natural environment their faeces evaporates into the sea the way nature intended, said Neil.

Indeed, the company has declined offers of opening in many other places because they are so conscious of having the perfect environment for their dolphins, they said.

Wild Captures

But none of this changes the fact that most of these dolphins have originally come from wild captures in Mexico and Cuba. What does mammal expert Eric Bogden think of this?

He explains that the catching process is scientific and he knows this first hand because he spent six months watching them do it. The dolphins, he said, are all caught humanely, because if they are not they will die from a syndrome know as capture myopathy.

The fact that these dolphins survived the captures and are doing well is because they have been caught humanely. The captures are highly technical, and have to be because the animals are so valuable. It is in nobody’s interest to harm them, he asserts.

An untrained dolphin from Cuba costs US$100,000. Of course this dolphin will be kept in the best conditions possible.

The company had previously acquired dolphins from Mexico, but has not done so for a few years now, preferring to work with Cuba.

Neil explained that Cuba surveys its wild populations and catches no more than 15 a year. This is all highly regulated by the government, he asserts.

The dolphins for Grand Cayman’s Dolphin Cove will come from the Jamaican facilities, Honduras or Cuba.

So how many more dolphins are to undergo capture in the wild for these dolphin parks? I wondered.

Breeding Programme

The ultimate aim, the company asserts, is to establish its own self–sufficient breeding programme. Already at Dolphin Cove there is a pregnant female, who is due in about four weeks’ time. We observed her gliding through her special private pregnancy pool, which she is free to enter and leave through open gates leading into one of the two main lagoons.

Her big belly glistens through the water. Neil informs me that breeding in captivity has been highly successful, particularly in the US, which has not imported dolphins for 16 years. Seaworld has a highly successful breeding programme that has grown rapidly in the past 30 years. Yet some anti–captive dolphin activitists still insist that captive dolphins do not breed in captivity.

There are other methods of attaining dolphins. For instance, one mammal, now at the Ocho Rios facility was saved after she became beached in the wild.
Indeed, beaching is a major cause of dolphin deaths in the wild, as are careless and inadvertent capture of dolphins in giant fishing nets, disease and predators.

Life Expectancy

Another point many anti–captive dolphin activists continually make is that the life expectancy of creatures in captivity is reduced dramatically. All this increases the need by such facilities to catch more and more dolphins in the wild, they say.

Many say dolphins can only survive five years in captivity, yet some of the dolphins at the Ocho Rios facility have lived in captivity for 30 years or more.

Recent scientific research concludes that dolphins living in aquariums have a better than or equal to survival rate compared to dolphins in the wild. The maximum age for bottlenose dolphins is from 40 and 50 years.

A recent study focused on the bottlenose dolphin and was conducted by Drs. Deborah Duffield of Portland University and Randall Wells of the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo, a member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.

The AMMPA’s website explains, “The study is based on comparative demographic census data for dolphins in public display facilities and a wild dolphin population in the waters of Sarasota, Florida, studied by Dr. Wells, the only wild dolphin population for which such data are available. This work corroborates a study published in 1988 by DeMaster and Drevenak who pointed out that survival of dolphins in aquariums ‘may be better than or equal to survival in the wild’.”

The website also asserts that dolphins and whales in public display facilities breed successfully, form complex social groups, and exhibit excellent physical health.

“The dolphins and whales in Alliance member marine life parks, aquariums, and zoos consume consistently high–quality, nutritional food, receive excellent medical attention, and are kept free of debilitating parasites. This is in stark contrast to the predators, disease, pollution, well–documented commercial fishing and recreational boating dangers and other challenges they face at sea, resulting in thousands of deaths each year”.

Medical Health

Every morning each of Dolphin Cove’s mammals has a medical examination to check overall health. A top veterinarian from the US, a world authority on marine mammals and an expert in endoscopic surgery, flies in regularly to routinely check the dolphins and is flown in for any emergency.

Illnesses can be detected and then treated. Cancers can be removed and antibiotics administered. None of this can happen in the wild.

Dolphin Cove has been in existence roughly five years and Dolphin Lagoon, two. The total number of dolphins they have had die under their care is four, I was told.

The breakdown is as follows: Two calves were mis–carried by first–time mothers;
One dolphin that came from Cuba died from a stingray barb it had eaten while still in the wild. The animal eventually became gravely ill when food could not pass through his intestine;
The fourth dolphin died following its journey to Jamaica from Mexico. Dolphin Cove says it should never have received such an animal, as it was old and not in good health.

Now the company has health checks conducted on animals before it receives them.

Hurricane Plans

In the case of hurricanes, the animals will be placed in stretchers, which are then put in trucks and they are driven to a swimming pool in a safe area. Salt will be added to the pool for the 24 hours that they will spend in it.

Eric explains that the dolphins have been trained to go in the stretcher and they know when they do this they get a nice big fish. It is a familiar experience for them and one that is associated with a reward, making it a pleasant occurrence.

The same plan will be in place for dolphins at the Grand Cayman facility, which will not be open for another nine months or so.

Another opinion voiced by anti–captive activists is that the mental health of these animals comes into question in captivity and that many people get hurt in dolphin swim programmes because of stressed, traumatised dolphins.

The AMMPA’s website notes a recent scientific study of steroid hormones produced by the adrenal cortex, a common measure of stress in animals, demonstrates that stress is not an issue in marine mammals in in–water interactive programs. “This Dolphin Quest/Sea World study was submitted to the U.S. government in September of 2000 and provides clear evidence that the animals are in a healthy environment.”

Neil asserts that dolphins can become aggressive from time to time, like any other live animal, but there are precursors to this aggression, which trainers can read and, hence, stay away. Like interacting with any animals, once guests follow instructions risk of injury are at a minimum, he said.


Children have much to learn about marine mammals through captive facilities. During the school holidays kids from local schools visit Dolphin Cove, sit on the deck and learn all about dolphins. There could be 100 on any one day.

And at the Montego Bay facility it is hoped to bring education through dolphins to a whole new level through the help of clinical psychologist Dr. David Nathanson, one of the prime movers behind Dolphin Human Therapy.

Through this method of teaching, children with learning problems such as Downs Syndrome and Autism are motivated to learn through swimming with dolphins. This doctor has found that such children who worked with dolphins learned up to four times faster – and remembered more of what they learned –– than those in conventional classroom settings.

Such a programme is now pending for this summer at Dolphin Lagoon. Although expensive, costing about US$8,000 per child for two weeks, the benefits could be enormous.


Dolphin Cove is a major tourist success. About 800 people pass through on any average day.
“We probably turn away more people than we accept because we do not want to overcrowd the animals,” said Mr. Burrowes.

At the Ocho Rios facility the main swim with the dolphins programme costs US$179. This involves swimming in the deep with the dolphins and includes a dorsal fin pull or a foot push from the dolphins; an encounter swim costs US$101 and involves a kiss, a splash or two and an up close and personal experience; the touch is while standing in the shallows touching, meeting and making friends with the dolphins. This costs US$46 per person.

Entrance to the park, without dolphin interaction, is US$19 per person and people can view the dolphins, walk the jungle trail and relax on the beach.

At Dolphin Lagoon hotel guests pay US$890 to be a trainer for a day; US$200 for a 30 minute swim with; and US$89 to pet the dolphins in the water.

The biggest demand for swimming with dolphins seems to come from people from the United Kingdom, Neil points out.

Recently an article in a UK newspaper outlined a survey done on the top 50 things to do before you die. No. 1 was to swim with dolphins.

But there are some who are still set against the operation of these facilities.


Both Mr. Burrowes and Eric agree that the views of many anti–captive dolphin campaigners are based on misinformation and propaganda. Many base claims on captive dolphin facility standards from the ‘50s, they say. The Human Society of the United States, they maintain, makes millions of dollars a year from donations from anti–captive dolphin supporters. Perhaps it is in the organisation’s interests to be against such facilities?

And, of course, it is in the interest of the dolphinarium owners and management to show that these facilities are well run and feasible tourist attractions. . .

So, perhaps having dolphins in captivity is not an ideal situation, and catching them from the wild is far from ideal, despite the fact that it may be done in a scientific manner. But with more time, work and efforts in improving breeding programmes perhaps the need for wild captures will be eliminated. And, perhaps in a changing tourist–oriented world, captive dolphins have become inevitable.

But, since dolphins are and do exist productively in captivity, it is enlightening to have seen first hand that companies such as Dolphin Cove care for them so well. As for the initial question, “Are they happy?” I would venture to say yes – as happy as they can be in captivity.

One thing is for sure – it is an eye opener to take a closer look at how these facilities are run to get a clearer picture of the captive dolphin debate. After all, there are two sides to every story.

Unregulated dolphins and whales tours have a negative effect on these marine mammals

UNREGULATED dolphin and whale watching tours, which prove to be very lucrative to fly by night operators now surface as the biggest and most immediate threat to the dolphins and cetaceans in Pamilacan, says an environment watch group, Eco-Nature.

This, and the unresolved issue of commercial fishing has pushed Pamilacan Island Dolphin and Whale Watching Organization (PIDWWO), Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Econature and other well meaning sponsors to convene the Dolphin Festival in May. This is to rally people behind the cause for the dolphins, says PIDWWO Chairman Leo Sumalpong in an interview recently.

The festival hopes to raise awareness on the roles of communities sharing the Pamilacan and Bohol Sea marine environment, the country's second area-specific marine biodiversity contender, Econature Project Development Officer Felisa Digdigan confirmed.

The Dolphin Festival also attempts to be a springboard to create advocacy to declare Pamilacan waters as a special sanctuary for dolphins and whales, she added.

"Declaring Pamilacan entails a lot of scientific study", says Digdigan who said that 13 of the country's 26 cetaceans are found in the waters surrounding the island. This is only next to Batanes Islands, she shared.

The festival hopes to rally the authorities to put up research stations and gather qualitative data in a bid to force legislators to act on the matter, organizers said.

Moreover, the festival dreams of being institutionalized to ensure habitat protection, they add.

Sighted and documented in Pamilacan are blue whales, sperm whales, brydes whale, melon headed whales, pilot whales, dwarf sperm whale and cuvier's whale. Also usually seen by tourists are spinner, spotted, rhissos, bottle-nosed, frasiers and rough-toothed dolphins.

In fact, this should help Bohol keep not just the smallest primate in the tarsier but also the largest of cetaceans in the blue whale, Digdigan stressed.

In Pamilacan Island, Baclayon Bohol, where for time immemorial, whale and dolphin hunting had been a livelihood, the option to finally lay down the "pilak" and go conservation's was rough sailing for the community.

Urged to lay down the pilak and preserve the island's unique marine habitat, the community was offered by the government and non-government organization whale and dolphin watching tours. This was hoped to fill the income gap left after banning whale hunting industry. This was also hoped to sustain the village from the deprivation of a tradition.

Lately however, untrained boatmen and tour operators from nearby communities in mainland Bohol have spoiled the fun for the island conservationists.

Practically sporting nothing but guts, untrained boat operators venture into the industry, offering cheap tours to guests and risking tourists lives and the danger of losing the acrobatics of dolphins finding the area friendly for them.

They just approach dolphins like they are racing, often chasing the marine mammals and risking dolphin's safety with their boat's propellers, said a dolphin and whale watching tour spotter who asked not to be identified.

The festival attempts to launch conservation allies of responsible whale and dolphin watch operators in the island, who shall serve as a management council drafting guidelines and overseeing the marine tour operations.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Increasing the dolphin population is not as easy task!

Mote Marine officials rescued an apparently ill bottlenose dolphin after it tried to beach itself on Longboat Key this afternoon.

The juvenile female dolphin, which was found about 3:30 p.m. on the Gulf side of the island, was taken to Mote Marine Laboratory's Dolphin and Whale Hospital for rehabilitation. Early this evening, the dolphin - which has been named Kaya - was swimming on its own in a tank at the hospital, according to Mote's Web site,

Jamie Tacy, spokeswoman for Mote, said the dolphin was found near a trailer park in the 3700 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Before officials from Mote arrived, witnesses were trying to coax the dolphin back out into the water.

That was the the wrong thing to do, Tacy said.

"When a dolphin, whale or sea turtle comes up on a beach, it is suffering from some sort of distress, it is a sick animal," Tacy said.

What people should do if they come upon a beached dolphin is call Mote, which is designated as a rehabilitation facility for sick sea creatures, Tacy said.

Tacy said officials did not know what had sickened the dolphin found on Saturday. She said the animal had lesions on its skin that appeared to have healed, but officials did not know if those were related to the animal's attempt to beach itself.

Mote's Web site reports that Kaya also has numerous rake marks and a swollen shoulder that will be x-rayed soon. It has been given fluids, antibiotics and vitamin E/selenium.

Tacy said the dolphin would remain at Mote until National Marine Fisheries Service determines it is fit to be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

There are currently three other dolphins being treated at Mote. Before Saturday, the most recent arrival was Val, an adult female bottlenose dolphin who was brought to Mote Feb. 12 after it was rescued from a mudflat near Oldsmar, according to Mote's Web site.

To report a stranding of a dolphin, whale, manatee or sea turtle, call Mote's Stranding Investigation Program's 24-hour pager at (941) 988-0212. For more information about the program and Mote's Dolphin and Whale Hospital, go to

Another dolphin has been rescued!

Mote Marine officials rescued an apparently ill bottlenose dolphin after it tried to beach itself on Longboat Key this afternoon.

The juvenile female dolphin, which was found about 3:30 p.m. on the Gulf side of the island, was taken to Mote Marine Laboratory's Dolphin and Whale Hospital for rehabilitation. Early this evening, the dolphin - which has been named Kaya - was swimming on its own in a tank at the hospital, according to Mote's Web site,

Jamie Tacy, spokeswoman for Mote, said the dolphin was found near a trailer park in the 3700 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Before officials from Mote arrived, witnesses were trying to coax the dolphin back out into the water.

That was the the wrong thing to do, Tacy said.

"When a dolphin, whale or sea turtle comes up on a beach, it is suffering from some sort of distress, it is a sick animal," Tacy said.

What people should do if they come upon a beached dolphin is call Mote, which is designated as a rehabilitation facility for sick sea creatures, Tacy said.

Tacy said officials did not know what had sickened the dolphin found on Saturday. She said the animal had lesions on its skin that appeared to have healed, but officials did not know if those were related to the animal's attempt to beach itself.

Mote's Web site reports that Kaya also has numerous rake marks and a swollen shoulder that will be x-rayed soon. It has been given fluids, antibiotics and vitamin E/selenium.

Tacy said the dolphin would remain at Mote until National Marine Fisheries Service determines it is fit to be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

There are currently three other dolphins being treated at Mote. Before Saturday, the most recent arrival was Val, an adult female bottlenose dolphin who was brought to Mote Feb. 12 after it was rescued from a mudflat near Oldsmar, according to Mote's Web site.

To report a stranding of a dolphin, whale, manatee or sea turtle, call Mote's Stranding Investigation Program's 24-hour pager at (941) 988-0212. For more information about the program and Mote's Dolphin and Whale Hospital, go to

Researchers will use scanner and dolphin sounds to locate rare specie

Researchers belonging to Worldwide Fund for Nature, Tokyo university and IIT, Delhi are undertaking an experiment in Budhabalanga river of Orissa to find out how the blind Gangetic Dolphin locates its prey by generating high frequency sound.

"We want to catch the high frequency sound generated by a Gangetic Dolphin rehabilitated in a gorge of Budhabalanga river of the state," Project Coordinator, Gangetic Dolphin, WWF, Sandeep Behera, told PTI.

Behera said "the Gangetic Dolphins are generally blind and spot their preys in a unique way. The sound they emit is not audible. However, it reaches its prospective prey."

"Once the sound reaches the prey, the dolphin registers its image in its mind. Finally, it catches hold of the prey."

The researchers suspended hydrophones in water to pick the sound produced by the dolphin here.
"Our hydrophones have already started receiving the sound produced by the dolphin. We will soon analyse the sound," Behera said.

The objective of the study is to follow the migration path, food habit and other behaviour of the dolphins. He said once the research yielded the desired results, advanced hydrophones could be manufactured on the basis of the findings which have a huge business potential.

The experiment, the first of its kind in India, will be conducted on the dolphin for two days. Earlier, similar experiments were conducted on Baiji dolphins in rivers of China and on whales in deep sea, Behera said.

"Dolphins belong to predatory category and are at the apex of the aquatic food chain. Presence of dolphins indicate that there is healthy life under water. The experiment would also study this aspect."

The population of Gangetic Dolphins is less than 2,500 and the mammals are spotted in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Professor Tamaki Ura and six researchers from Tokyo university, Rajinder Behl of IIT Delhi and two researchers from the state forest department are taking part in the experiment.

During last rainy season, two Gangetic Dolphins were first spotted in the upper catchment area of Budhabalanga river, which were believed to have migrated.

While one dolphin was found missing after a few days, the other could be seen for a few more days. Since the shallow water in the Budhabalanga river was not suitable to the dolphin, it was shifted to the gorge in January last.

Behera said "we will conduct a detailed survey for the next three months to find out the population of sweet water dolphin in Orissa."

Rescued dolphin did not make it!

A young Atlantic bottlenose dolphin died late Saturday, hours after her rescue on Longboat Key.
The juvenile dolphin, which tried to beach herself, was found Saturday afternoon near a trailer park on the Gulf side of Longboat and taken to Mote Marine Laboratory.

The dolphin, named Kaya, was placed in Mote's Dolphin and Whale Hospital for rehabilitation.
There were numerous rake marks on Kaya, as well as healed skin lesions and a swollen shoulder, according to Mote. So Kaya, who weighed about 93 kilograms, received treatment, including fluids, antibiotics and vitamin E/selenium.

Mote spokeswoman Jamie Tacy said Kaya swam for a short period of time Saturday, but then quit. She went into shock and died at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

A necropsy - an animal autopsy - was performed on Kaya on Sunday but there was no obvious indication of what caused her death.

"Sometimes there will be blunt force," said Tacy, adding that test results from tissue and blood samples from Kaya are expected in about a week.

When the dolphin was found on Longboat Key, a number of people helped keep her alive until Mote rescue officials arrived.

"The people out there were great," Tacy said. "They kept her wet, but made sure they kept the blowhole out of the water. They did the right thing. They made sure she could breathe."

Three other dolphins remain at Mote for rehabilitation:

• Val, a female bottlenose, was found aground on a mud flat near Oldsmar in mid-February. Suffering from dehydration and emaciated, she was rescued by staff at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and brought to Mote.

• Harley, a young spinner dolphin, was found April 20, 2004, at Mustang Island, Texas, and brought to Mote last March.

• Moonshine was found April 28, 2003, at Marathon and brought to Mote in June of that year. He is considered a permanent resident of Mote.

How to help

To report a stranded dolphin, whale, manatee or sea turtle, call Mote's Stranding Investigation Program's 24-hour pager at (941) 988-0212. For more information about the program and Mote's Dolphin and Whale Hospital, go to

Monday, April 03, 2006

Trapped dolphin become feast for villagers

Villagers in Barangay Tinopan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay feasted on the meat of a 70-kilogram dolphin which died after it was entrapped on Friday morning in a fishnet of Juan Demasito Araojo, a resident of Barangay Binosawan, same town.

Binosawan village chief Reynold Asuncion confirmed the report in a cell phone interview.
Asuncion said they buried what was left of the sea mammal and took a sample for examination by government authorities.

He said nothing happened to those who had eaten the meat of the dolphin.

Earlier on Feb. 9, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) issued its fifth study showing that fish from the Sorsogon coastal areas facing Rapu-Rapu Island is safe to eat, contrary to claims.

Officials of the Lafayette Philippines Inc., whose mining operations in Rapu-Rapu town had been alleged to have contaminated the waters of the island-municipality and some parts of Sorsogon, said BFAR’s continuing tests consistently showed that

there was no mercury contamination as claimed by its critics.

These groups’ claims had scared off people from buying fish, destroying the livelihood of thousands of Sorsogon fishermen in the process.

Beached dolphin saved!

Mote Marine Laboratory rescued a beached bottlenose dolphin Saturday afternoon near the 3700 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive.Residents of a nearby trailer park tried to push the juvenile dolphin back into the Gulf of Mexico after it became stranded. Scientists from Mote took the dolphin for treatment at around 3:30 p.m., said Jamie Tacy, a spokeswoman for Mote Marine.

"When a dolphin is beached, people shouldn't try and push it in the water," Tacy said. "They usually come up to shallow water when they are sick or weak. The proper thing to do is to call the authorities."Tacy says it's not unusual for a dolphin to beach itself, but the best thing to do is cover it with wet towels. "There have been quite a few in the Tampa Bay area," Tacy said.

"This one has some lesions, but they are healing. We will keep it until it's healthy. Our goal at Mote is to eventually return the animal to the wild, but we never know when that will be."Call Mote's 24-hour pager system at 988-0212 to report stranded aquatic mammals or turtles.

Dolphin and whale watching interesting industry!

Boatmen engaged in dolphin and whale watching in Pamilacan Island has gradually realized the need for them to unite in order to further enhance the popular marine tour destination.

Leo Sumalpang of the Pamilacan Island Dolphin and Whale Watching Organization (PIDWWO) agreed to correct erroneous claims viewed in the website regarding their organization. He assured the other boatmen that he will immediately write the Department of Tourism to correct the claim on their number of members as well as other facts including the disputed claim that PIDWWO is giving back 50% of its revenues to the barangay.

The assurance of Sumalpang was heard by the members of the Sanggunuang Bayan of Baclayon when they conducted a joint session last Friday with the barangay council under Pamilacan Brgy Capt. Crispo Valeroso at the island.

Jojo Baritua, head of Pamilacan Island Boat Operators and Spotters Association (PIBOSA) welcomed the gesture of Sumalpang to correct the errors.

Sumalpang also agreed to give the Provincial Tourism Council (PTC) a detailed list of their community projects. It was observed that the projects went directly to the islanders without passing through the barangay council.

Baclayon Mayor Benny Uy appealed to both camps to set aside personal differences and instead look forward for the enhancement of the tour. He vowed to continuously monitor the group’s activities.

The groups were asked to equally share the business generated at the dolphin watching tour even as PIDWWO stands as the favored group due to earlier marketing done through the government-paid posters.

Baritua was requested to change the group’s policy of not accepting requests for boats from PIDDWO.

Meantime, the regulation on the entry of boats at the site will soon be discussed after Baclayon Kagawad Apale, chair of the SB committee on tourism will convene on Tuesday a committee which will discuss on how the municipality can generate income from these boatmen.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"