Saturday, May 27, 2006

Pub raises money to send little girl swimming with dolphins

PUB staff are raising money all day on Bank Holiday Monday in a bid to send a terminally-ill girl to America to swim with dolphins.Pinewoods pub in St John's Road have organised fundraising activities, including a bungee jump, in aid of Romford girl Emma-Rose Mead.

The five-year-old has infantile Batten disease, a degenerative brain disorder, for which there is no cure. The pub will also be hosting entertainment in the evening with kids activities during the day, which begins at noon. To bungee costs £40 with sponsorship money raised, going towards sending Emma-Rose to America.For more information contact the pub on 01708 762965.

Rare dolphin being helped at San Diego Sea World

Employees at SeaWorld San Diego are working round the clock to nurse back to health a rare dolphin that washed ashore at a Corona del Mar beach over the weekend.

The sick baby northern right whale dolphin was thousands of miles from its normal habitat when it beached itself Sunday at Corona del Mar State Beach.

It's unknown why or how it got to Southern California, but it's the first of its kind seen in the area in a long time, experts said.

"I'm astounded," said Orange Coast College professor Dennis Kelly. "There's been so few of these ever come in that even one sighting of these is amazing."

Kelly has been studying dolphins for 32 years, and he's never seen a northern right whale dolphin alive.

The dolphin was "extremely thin" when it was discovered on the beach Sunday, said Michele Hunter, director of operations and animal care at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. Someone had tried to push the dolphin out in the water, but it kept coming ashore, Hunter said.

The dolphin is about 3 1/2 -feet long and weighs only 55 pounds. At that size, it's likely a calf that got separated from its mother, Kelly said.

"It didn't look like it had eaten in quite a period of time," Hunter said.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center employees transported the dolphin to SeaWorld San Diego, where it could be cared for in heated pools, Hunter said. The dolphin traveled inside an Isuzu Trooper, where it rested on pads and was constantly sponged down with water to keep it wet and cool.

Experts don't yet know what the dolphin's odds of survival are. It's on 24-hour watch in a recovery tank, where it's being fed and hydrated, said Dave Koontz, communications director at SeaWorld San Diego.

"We always hope that we can help these animals pull through, but this is a very sick dolphin," Koontz said.

Northern right whale dolphins travel in pods of more than 1,000 and are normally found offshore in the cold waters of the Northern Pacific Ocean. The black-and-white dolphins are narrow and have no dorsal fin, Kelly said.

Since the animal washed up at Corona del Mar state beach, there must have been a pod off-shore at some time. The colder weather patterns of a La Niña year made for colder water, which could explain what a pod was doing in Southern California waters. The pod could have followed schools of cold-water fish out of their normal habitat, Kelly said.

The mother and calf likely got separated from the pack. The mother, who's likely dead, probably tried to get her calf as close to shore as possible before she died, Kelly said.

It's unusual for the dolphin to show up in this area and it's amazing that it's alive. Dolphins beach themselves only when they're extremely ill.

"If it can survive, that will be a first," Kelly said.

Animal care specialists at SeaWorld are running tests to try to determine what might be wrong. Kelly said there are a variety of reasons, from dehydration to parasites, that would cause the baby to be sick.

If the mother died, it's possible the calf wasn't getting any food and was suffering from dehydration. The caregivers can give it synthetic dolphin milk and will probably put an older female dolphin in the same tank to make the calf feel calm, Kelly said.

The calf will have a higher survival rate than an adult. Adults are fixed in their behavior, but the young ones can more easily adapt to change, Kelly said.

It's still unlikely that the dolphin will ever return to the wild. The more it needs to be cared for by humans, the more it will grow accustomed to them, and it may not be recognized by its own kind, Kelly said.

Stranded dolphin doesn't survive!

He was the biggest dolphin several marine-mammal specialists had ever seen.

That size and his age are believed to be part of the reason the dolphin, close to 11 feet and 560 pounds, stranded himself in shallow water off Belle Fontaine Beach at St. Andrews this week.
Residents of the area and passers-by were the first responders when they saw him in the shallow water Monday afternoon. They called a series of state and federal marine agencies and specialists, who all came. Then the dolphin-rescue team with the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies arrived about 7 p.m.

By 9:30 p.m., he was loaded into the dolphin ambulance and was on his way to a pool in north Gulfport for observation. But he had a bad night and by midday Tuesday, it was decided he wouldn't make it.

Gesa Capers, a microbiologist-turned-high-school-science-teacher who lives on Belle Fontaine Beach, said she first saw the dolphin from a window in her FEMA trailer at 2:30 p.m. Monday.
"I looked out and saw a fin and half a dolphin sticking out of the water," Capers said. "I text-messaged a friend and said, 'It looks dead. I'm going to check it out.'"

"He said, 'Be careful. Something might be feeding on it,'" she said.

She changed into her shorts and waded the 20 to 30 feet off shore. Others gathered, some just wanting to help and some from agencies well-versed on the subject.

They all decided to move him to deeper water, Capers said. "I was afraid he would get sunburned. We put our arms under him to move him. He was so heavy. I touched him all over searching for injuries, but found none.

"He was obviously stressed. He didn't try to get away. He was a beautiful animal, so big."
She and others hoped he would heal and be released.

"He was so gentle. He knew we were trying to help him," said Doris Rodriguez, one of the passers-by who stopped to help. "They interact with you."

But Tim Hoffland, with IMMS, said the dolphin was at the end of a long life.

"His teeth were worn down," Hoffland said. "He was having trouble breathing, and he was listing to one side. We kept him here (at the pool) all night long in a flotation device to keep him upright, because he kept rolling over. In the morning, we decided it would be best to euthanize him."
Hoffland estimated his age at 25, old for a wild dolphin, and he said LSU would do post-mortem studies.

Though the dolphin didn't make it, he did bring people together. Capers said the dolphin was the first live dolphin in trouble she had seen on the beach in the seven years she has lived there.

"We stayed with him for hours," she said. "We didn't know each other before that. I had never seen some of them before."

Want to help?

Doris Rodriguez would like to form a group for residents interested in helping with any future dolphin-stranding in South Jackson County. Details: (228) 327-3833

Dead dolphin washed ashore

A dead dolphin washed up on the beach in Laurence Harbor this week, leading officials to investigate how it may have wound up in Raritan Bay and what happened to it.

Authorities were notified that the 4-foot-long sea mammal was on the beach at 10:40 a.m. Tuesday, according to Old Bridge Police Lt. Robert Weiss.

The dead dolphin washed in with the tide and became lodged in mud between the beach's first and second jetties, he said. It remained about 50 yards away from the high-tide line.

"The tide came in, and when it went out, it just left it," Weiss explained.

By noon, police were arranging for a local fire department to remove the dolphin from the beach.
The Brigantine Animal Stranding and Rescue Center was contacted, and police were asked to provide that organization with digital pictures of the dolphin in order to better assess the condition of the remains, Weiss noted.

"We don't normally see dolphins in the Raritan Bay," he said.

The exact reason for the dolphin's death or the turn of events that led to it remain unknown. For now all that is known is that the dolphin had died prior to being washed ashore, Weiss noted.

Dolphin watch trip

The Lakewood Community School has tickets available for a bus trip to Cape May and a dolphin watch scheduled for June 17. The bus will depart from the Lakewood municipal building at 7:30 a.m. and arrive in Cape May about 9:30 a.m. for a "Two-Whale and Dolphin Watch" cruise.

The next stop will be Victorian Cape May for a craft show at the convention center on the boardwalk, browsing at historic Washington Street Mall and the many quaint stores.

If they choose, visitors may hop a trolley for a riding tour and have lunch at one of the many eateries or just enjoy the waterfront. The bus will return to Lakewood about 6:30 p.m. The fee for bus transportation and cruise is $48. Details and reservations: (732) 905-3685.

Dolphin carnage!

FISHERMEN are behind an appalling rise in dolphin deaths along a popular coastal beauty spot, campaigners warned yesterday.

They say pair trawling, where nets are dragged between boats, is causing carnage.
About 126 dolphins died off Cornwall in the first three months of 2006 - at least one a day.
This compares with an average of 137 washed up for each of the previous four years.

Joana Doyle, of Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: "It's a disgrace. I'm surprised any are left."
The trust said the ban on pair trawling within 12 miles of UK waters is failing and has called for tighter regulations.

Ms Doyle added: "Dolphins feeding outside the area are just as likely to be caught as they don't know the limits."

Rescued and rehabilitated dolphin released

A bottlenose dolphin has been released in Old Tampa Bay near the spot where she was rescued earlier this year.

She was nicknamed Val, since rescuers found her stranded in mud near Oldsmar on Valentines Day.

Officials with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium found Val dehydrated, underweight and with abscesses, possibly from injections.

But after about 100 days of rehabilitation, Val was released Tuesday.

She's being tracked with a small transmitter that will send information about her movements for three months.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Uncommon dolphin washed up on shore

Rarely seen dolphin washes up on beach

Young member of odd species washes up Sunday in Corona del Mar.

By PAT BRENNAN The Orange County Register

A juvenile of a rarely seen dolphin species that lacks a dorsal fin washed up on the beach at Corona del Mar on Sunday and was being cared for at Sea World on Monday.

The thin, ailing northern right whale dolphin was suffering from cold because of its lack of blubber, said Michele Hunter, director of operations at the Friends of the Sea Lion Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach.

These black dolphins have smooth backs instead of the pointy fins more typical of other dolphin species.

One of the volunteers at the center drove the dolphin to Sea World in San Diego, while another kept it wet. A team of Sea World specialists was ready when the dolphin arrived, Hunter said.
It was tube-fed there and had been swimming on its own in a heated pool during the night but was placed in a support after growing fatigued, Hunter said.

She said her rescue group had seen only one other member of the species, an adult rescued in March that lived only a few hours.

The reason for the more recent dolphin's poor condition was unknown Monday, but tests were being conducted, Hunter said.

New dolphin's specie has been discovered!

A new species of dolphin not yet officially documented in Pamilacan waters, the Pantropical Spotted Dolphin was recently seen here, proof that the island's vicinity may be home to yet many other species otherwise not documented.

This was confirmed by Dolphin Watch Philippines (DWP) Chairman Leo Sumalpong who took environmentalists from World Wildlife Fund, EcoNature Philippines, Environmental Legal Assistance Center and government representatives to Bowride, a Month of the Ocean offer and Dolphin Festival 2006 highlight.

There have been at least three other sightings with positive identifications recently, Sumalpong said a short while before a village interaction with folks happened in Pamilacan May 19, 2006.
Foreign funds form New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAid) have helped Sumalpong and his cetacean spotters employed under the DWP.

They have been trained by international marine biologists on field identification to be able to confirm the development.

Aside from international funds funneled to government agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Tourism and other organizations, the government also pitched in funds for technical assistance to the former whale hunting community.

Because Pamilacan lies directly amidst the migratory highway for whales and dolphins from the Pacific, local fishers have been sustained by hunting whales. Until the ban was strictly implemented in 1997, the community has since then went the conservationists' way.

Ma. Felisa Digdigan of EcoNature Philippines has said that the Pamilacan waters has been home to resident dolphins identified as the long and short snouted spinner dolphins (Stenella Longirostris, Stenella clymene), bottle-nose (tursiops truncantus) and rough toothed dolphins (Steno Bredanensis)

The sighting and its positive documentation may add up the dolphin and whale watch attraction that the former fishers now marine shepherds are now offering to guests and tourists.

The Pantropical spotted dolphin, (Stenella Attenuata) sports a slender body with a long narrow beak, and a dark grey dorsal cape and dorsal fin. Light spots cover the dark areas of the body. The lips are white has an average of 40 pairs of teeth per jaw. The undersides are pale grey with dark spots.

The dolphin averages 1.7-2.4m in length and weighs between 90 to a hundred kilos, says Dolphin and Whale Conservation Society Website.

The presence of another species forces an even more stringent measures to make sure that dolphins and whales are not hurt and threatened by fishing and tourism operations.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

How do dolphins discipline their calves?

It isn’t easy to study dolphins at sea. They often do mysterious things. But they also do quite obvious things.One evening, we had the chance to see how mother dolphins discipline their calves at sea.We were in a small cove about half way through the survey route, when we came upon a mother dolphin and her calf. The calf was just a bit smaller than its mother, so it was probably at least a couple of years old.Mother was feeding. She searched the ocean floor for tidbits.

As a result, she wasn’t visible very often. But her calf was another story. It danced around the waves, evidently not very hungry. It hung around the vicinity of its mother. Whenever people watch animals, we tend to watch the young. There are probably lots of reasons for this. One, the kids are small and this catches the eye. Two, the kids are usually way more active than the adults (just like in humans), and their gamboling antics are very entertaining.

I am always struck to see how a group of people who come up to an animal enclosure at a zoo immediately notice any babies in the cage. So it is at sea. When we find dolphin groups that include calves, it is too easy to watch the calves to the exclusion of the adults.This particular day was the same way. The calf surfaced more often than its mom. It zoomed around, popping up here and there, in the ways that dolphins use to amuse themselves when their mothers are busy and there is no one else to play with.Ah, but we were there, a small boat hovering nearby.

After a while, it seemed to occur to the calf that we might be something entertaining to play with. Now, when we find dolphins, we hang off to one side to watch them without disturbing their behavior. Our federal permit gives us permission to get close enough to take pictures of the dolphins, which we use to identify individuals, census their population and monitor their numbers. But since we study behavior as well, we watch from a distance without getting in the middle of things.

In this respect, we act like other boaters, which is good because the Marine Mammal Protection Act makes it illegal for people without a permit to get closer than 50 yards from dolphins and manatees.The next time the calf surfaced, it was a little closer to our boat. Then we saw it surface near its mom. When it surfaced the next time, it was again closer to our boat. Then closer. Finally it swung past our bow in what we call a crisscross behavior, rolling to peer into our faces.

Dolphins seem to use the crisscross behavior to check out boats. Because dolphins crisscross, we question the ethics of designing boat hulls that are so high that the boat driver can’t see what might be under them … like, dolphins or manatees in their path.Mother dolphin had her own version of ‘unethical’. When she saw her calf crisscross our bow, she shot through the water to her calf. Next thing you know, the calf shot out of the water to avoid its mother. The calf cleared its mother’s irritated lunge and, peace restored, they swam off together into the sunset.

Group fighting dolphins' captivity!

International animal welfare groups today launched an emotionally charged national initiative urging all New Zealanders to lobby Napier City Council not to replace Shona, the Marineland dolphin that died last month.

The "Captive for an Audience" campaign has been organised by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), together with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), the SPCA, Project Jonah and SAFE.

New Zealanders are being urged to flood council postboxes with postcards urging it to phase out the use of captive dolphins on animal welfare grounds.

Marineland, which also acts as a rescue and rehabilitation facility for injured seabirds and animals, is the only New Zealand facility with a captive dolphin programme.

WSPA New Zealand manager, Kimberly Muncaster, said Marineland seriously compromised the country's "progressive stance" on marine animal welfare.

"Many countries have banned the capture and confinement of dolphins. It's time that New Zealand followed suit and closed the door on this unnecessary and cruel form of entertainment," Ms Muncaster said.

A dolphin's "smile" was an anatomical feature, not an indication of its health or emotional state, she said. New Zealanders needed to look behind the "smile" to see the suffering that life in captivity caused.

"The physical and psychological suffering is immense," Ms Muncaster said.
Dolphins were far-ranging, fast-moving, deep-diving predators.

"They are also highly social mammals that which form close and complex relationships with their pod mates." Half the world's captive dolphins died due to the process of capture and confinement, intestinal disease, chlorine poisoning or stress.

"I urge all New Zealanders to join our campaign to end this suffering," Ms Muncaster said. Meanwhile, Napier city councillor Harry Lawson and pro-dolphin supporters have launched a website aimed at encouraging more people to sign a 10,000-signature petition to Government to clear the way for Marineland to secure one or more captive-bred dolphins as company for its sole surviving dolphin, Shona.

The website offers visitors a full history of Marineland, a link to San Diego Sea World, a progress report on the petition and lists ways they can help. Anyone keen to see Shona replaced can visit the site at

Scientist's opinion about dolphin watching industry!

THE whale and dolphin watching industry is harming the animals, a leading dolphin researcher has warned.

Dr Lars Bejder from Murdoch University said a six-year study of the impact of tourism on dolphins in Western Australia's Shark Bay had produced some alarming results.

Dr Bejder said the study, which used data going back 22 years, showed that dolphins regularly visited by tourism operators were less successful, and had a slower rate of reproduction, than dolphins not visited by tourists.

He said the findings should not be used to stop the whale and dolphin watching industry, but to indicate ways in which its impact could be minimised.

"In the last four to five years there has been a decline of around 15 per cent in the number of dolphins using the tourism area in Shark Bay. The study also showed that the females visited by tourists had a slower rate of reproduction," Dr Bejder said.

"We now have this great data that we can use to fix the problem. This study has implications for the way we manage the dolphins and the industry to ensure it is sustainable.

"A one-off encounter with a dolphin has no implications but ongoing interaction has an impact.
"These animals only have a certain amount of energy for all sorts of interactions and if they are constantly interacting with boatloads of tourists, that impacts on their social interactions and their ability to do all sorts of other things they would normally do.

"Whale and dolphin watching is a positive industry and does a lot for conservation and the economy. I'm not saying it should end, but the results show that we can be doing it better."
Dr Bejder said only about 150 to 200 dolphins were visited regularly by tourism operators in Shark Bay, out of a total population in the area of up to 2700.

In other areas of Australia and around the world where the population of dolphins was smaller and the number of tourism operators larger, the impact on the animals would be far greater, he said.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Possible causes of dolphins deaths

Marine scientists in Zanzibar said they were baffled by the mysterious deaths of between 700 and 800 bottlenose dolphins around the Tanzanian archipelago.

The marine mammals stranded themselves on four beaches around semi-autonomous Zanzibar’s main island of Unguja.

Analyses of some of the dead dolphins revealed that their stomachs were all unusually empty, which suggested to scientists that they vomited in a confused or frenzied state.

Mussa Aboud Jumbe, director of the Zanzibar Fisheries Department, said that initial investigation indicated the dolphin deaths were due to “mega sounds” resulting from earthquakes or sonar from warships.

Jumbe theorized that recent seismic activity around Madagascar and East Africa could have disoriented or confused the dolphins.

Cruel people warned against attacks on protected specie!

Marra became a celebrity in February when it had to be rescued from Maryport harbour, in Cumbria, where it had been stranded for nearly a month.

Now it has been spotted off the coast at Silloth and conservationists have received reports from the public of stones being thrown at the mammal.

They have put up posters warning that the dolphin is a protected species.
Poor health

Trevor Weeks, of British Divers Marine Life Rescue, also urged watchers not get close to Marra or throw food at it.

He said: "Our biggest concern is that Marra could become a humanised dolphin which would not be good for it. We want people to enjoy Marra as a wild, natural dolphin.

"Watching any dolphin from the harbour walls is okay, but we don't want people going out in boats chasing after and interacting with the dolphin as this is not natural."

Marra, named after the local word for "mate", had to be rescued because of its flagging health in the cold marina.

The RSPCA, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue helped design the warning poster.

How do calves learn?

One July day in the field, we got another little piece of the puzzle of dolphin behavior: How little calves learn the ways of their watery world.We start our dolphin surveys as the morning sun reaches the horizon. Yesterday, we set off later than usual.

The night before had been wild with winds and rain from a giant storm in the Bahamas, so we launched when it was light.In a shallow cove about half way through the study area, we happened upon the late breakfast of a mother dolphin named X and her calf Little X. Little X is probably 6 to 7 months old. It long ago mastered the art of swimming and nursing. It has grown plump on X's rich milk. It still has the big adorable head that marks it as a baby mammal.

Little X's behavior is even cuter. We often see a particular behavior in mom dolphins with small calves: Mom feeds while her calf, which doesn't yet eat solid food, plays nearby. It is like a human mother eating her fast-food breakfast on a bench watching her toddler lope around. Only with dolphins, though, mom's breakfast really is fast food.Mom dolphin roams a small area in search of fleet fish and crabs. She is under the water most of the time.

You can't predict where she will surface, but she stays in a general area.We park the boat to one side and watch for intermittent silhouettes. While mom dolphins look for food, dolphin babies try out new behaviors (not unlike human kids at the grocery store). Dolphin calves this age pick a couple of behaviors and do them over and over. We watched Little X calf practice the wonders of body wiggling, tailslapping, blowing bubbles, swimming up-side-down, rearing up over the surface and even standing up in the water (spyhopping). It's so fun to be a baby dolphin.

Dolphin calves are not only active. They are also very curious. Depending on their courage, they sometimes approach the boat close enough to satisfy the most ardent dolphin observer. Then they zoom away, only to return to tease us some more. Oh, are they fun to watch but hard to film.The puzzle piece we learned today was that whenever Little X came too close the boat, X hurried over, retrieved it and escorted it away.Retrieving is when a big dolphin zooms by a smaller dolphin and sweeps it up into its jet stream.

If the big dolphin keeps swimming fast, the little one is swept into the echelon position next to the big dolphin. Then the big dolphin can take the little dolphin where it wants.What was so interesting about our observations was that X let Little X hang around our boat as long at it didn't get too close to us. When Little X got too close, X zoomed in and took it to a safer distance.

Only then would she return to feeding. She did this repeatedly. She was teaching Little X about the distance to maintain from boats. Some dolphins are boat-friendly; they don't seem to mind boats. Some are not. This varies a lot among the dolphins; they have individual personalities and attitudes just like people do. Before X had her calf, she was more boat-friendly! Now, X is clearly an attentive and responsive mom. What does X understand about the dangers of a boat to her baby?

Protecting dolphins has allowed steady increase!

Wildlife experts recorded video footage of 60 animals during a survey in the bay, regarded as a bottlenose stronghold.

About 140 are estimated to exist off the Welsh coast but they are usually found in smaller groups of about 10.

Dolphin numbers have increased steadily since a European Union habitat protection order was placed on the bay.

Bottlenose dolphins are mostly found in Cardigan Bay and the Moray Firth in western Scotland.
But a survey last summer by the Sea Watch Foundation found that the animals existed along the length of the Welsh coast in smaller numbers.

It was an amazing sight

Steve Hartley of Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre

Steve Hartley of Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre said: "We spotted more than 60 bottlenose dolphins during a survey off New Quay on Sunday. My colleague Sarah Perry videoed the dolphins."

"It was an amazing sight - if the weather had been better we may have seen more. It must be the largest group of bottlenose dolphins seen in the bay in the last 20 years."

Mr Hartley said it was unusual to see such a large number of bottlenose dolphins together in one group.

"Some of the dolphins were quite boisterous, but others were quiet and calm. There were also mothers with calves - it was fantastic to see them all," he said.

Humpback whales

Mr Hartley said dolphin numbers in the bay suffered a few years ago. He said it was due to habitat destruction, pollution and falling fish numbers.

In August last year about 2,000 common dolphins were seen off the Pembrokeshire coast and days later a school of giant fin whales was observed in the Irish sea.

During the same month, humpback whales were spotted in Cardigan Bay.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hunting of dolphins is on the rise

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) claims the cruel practice of dolphin drive hunts in Japan is being fuelled by an increased demand for dolphins in aquaria. The WDCS reports that younger members of pods rounded up out a sea and driven into shore are being picked out by aquarium staff and 'hauled away' to be put in captivity.

Dolphin drive hunts can take hours, and sometimes days, causing prolonged distress as the pod adults try to protect their young and themselves. Once trapped near the shore, the remaining dolphins not taken for aquaria are surrounded by nets, where they either suffocate, injury themselves in a panic to escape or are slaughtered by hunters.

WDCS said previous evidence had suggested that drive hunts were decreasing because of a drop in demand for dolphin meat and a rise in the popularity of whale and dolphin watching. However, it said high prices being offered by aquaria in Japan and other countries for the live dolphins captured had become 'the primary motivation' for the hunts to continue. 'We believe that people would not visit aquariums holding animals captured in drive hunts, if they knew the truth about the way in which the whales and dolphins came to be there,' said Cathy Williamson, anti-captivity campaigner at WDCS.

'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.'

Stranded calf rescued!

We then launched a search and found a large pod of dolphins close inshore, very near the place the honeymoon couple saw the baby dolphin," Fraser said.He said the rescued animal was released into the sea and that it appeared to be content."When we arrived at the dolphin school it swam right up to the NSRI rescue craft," he said.

Asked how the dolphin got into the pool, APG member Craig Viljoen said: "It probably got swept in by rough sea. "To get it back to its school, everything was done very quickly and the NSRI did a fantastic job."MCM marine educator Arno Munro could not say what sex the dolphin was, but said judging from the animal's size it was only a few days old.

"It seems it was swept over the rocks during the high tide. "It was low tide when we found it and it could obviously not get out of the pool."The other dolphins were on the other side of the rocks."Amazingly, the dolphins in the school sensed (it being lowered into the water) and came rushing towards the baby."It was such a fantastic sight," Munro said.

Carcass of dolphin discovered floating

A dead ‘dolphin’ was found floating in the sea about 20m off Gurney Drive, here, by three taxi drivers who were waiting to pick up passengers in the area.

Taxi driver T. Raviendran, 28, said he saw the dead ‘mammal’ floating in the sea, opposite Gurney Hotel at about 12.30pm yester- day.

“At first I thought it was rubbish but when I smelt stench, I suspected it might be a dead fish.
“I took a closer look at it and believed it must be a dolphin. It was about a metre long,” he said.
The incident attracted some passers-by who stop-ped to look at the ‘dolphin’.

Penang Fisheries Depart-ment spokesman said officers would be sent to check on the ‘dolphin.’

Dolphin's communication system!

We've always known dolphins were cute, lovable and smart. Now scientists say dolphins can communicate with one another by "whistling" their own names.

That's right. The mammals can recognize themselves and recognize and differentiate other members of the same species by using whistles, marine biologists say.

Researchers from Scotland's St Andrews University studied a school of bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Fla., and found they use names rather than sound to identify one another. The three-year-study was funded by the Royal Society of London.

"We captured wild dolphins using nets when they came near the shore," said Vincent Janik, of the Sea Mammal Unit at St Andrews University. "Then in the shallow water we recorded their whistles before synthesizing them on a computer so that we had a computer voice of a dolphin.

"Then we played it back to the dolphins and we found they responded," he said. "This showed us that the dolphins know each other's signature whistle, instead of just the voice."

The research suggests that dolphins may be closer to humans than previously realized.

"I think it is a very exciting discovery because it means that these animals have evolved the same abilities as humans," Janik said. "Now we know they have labels for each other, like we do."

The findings are supported by other sources as well.

Denise Herzing, research director at the Wild Dolphin Project at Florida Atlantic University, said it was already clear that many of the 77 known cetacean (whale and dolphin) species had rudimentary languages.

"We know that dolphins' brains are nearly as large and complex, relative to body size, as those of humans," Herzing said. "They have evolved to be intelligent and that implies being able to communicate."

The research from the St. Andrews project has its origin in the 1960s, when dolphin trainers first noticed that captive animals each had their own personal repertoire of whistles. This prompted speculation that dolphins had their own language and might even have individual "names."

But dolphins may be just the first of many species in which individuals are found to have their own names.

Other researchers have already found evidence for highly developed language skills in parrots, crows and primates. Great apes, such as chimpanzees and orangutans, have been a popular subject for research because they are so closely related to humans.

The physical limitations of chimpanzees' vocal apparatus means they cannot speak, but researchers at Georgia State University have taught the primates to communicate in English through computers equipped with customized keyboards and voice synthesizers.

The African gray parrot is another renowned linguist, able not only to learn words but to use them in the right context. Even some rodent species may have developed a rudimentary language, researchers say.

Vancouver aquarium getting ready to welcome new addition!

The Vancouver Aquarium is expecting a new addition this summer. Hana, an 11-year-old Pacific white-sided dolphin, is pregnant. Veterinarian Dr. Dave Huff says blood tests show Hana's progesterone levels are high, suggesting she's pregnant. An ultrasound next week will confirm if Hana is expecting and give an approximate due date.

It would be the first dolphin born in the Aquarium's 50-year history. But not everyone is excited about an impending birth.

Annelise Sorg of the group No Whales in Captivity says three Orcas born at the Aquarium died in the 1990's. She says two baby Beluga calves also died, the last being three-year-old Tuvaq who died last year. Sorg says Hana is living in poor conditions for having a calf and believes the chances of her baby surviving are slim.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Spinner dolphin died of possible collision with boat

Discovered by a nearby fisherman, the dead dolphin was examined by Department of Environment and Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS) staff, who said that the animal probably died after being hit by a boat's propeller.

The dolphin's snout had been badly damaged.

Calf back with its pod!

A baby dolphin, stranded in a rock pool close to the Point Hotel in Mossel Bay, was reunited with its pod on Monday, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said in a statement.Andre Fraser, NSRI spokesperson for Mossel Bay, said they received a call about 11am from a couple on honeymoon who had found the baby dolphin.

The dolphin was eventually loaded into a "large square bucket" of water and onto an NSRI rescue craft, in search of its school.The dolphin was released close to where it was found, and swam away into the deep sea."When we arrived at the school of dolphins it appeared as if a group of the dolphins came to greet the baby dolphin when it was released into the water. They swam right up to our NSRI rescue craft," Fraser said.

Vancouver aquarium suspect pregnancy of one of their dolphins

Blood test results show that Hana, one of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Pacific white-sided dolphins is likely pregnant. It is hoped that an ultrasound will confirm a birth due sometime in the next few months. The average gestation period for these animals is 12 months.

“Absolute confirmation will come when we can see the dolphin calf through the use of ultrasound technology,” said Clint Wright, Vice President of Operations & Animal Management. “We hope to conduct that procedure soon.” The Aquarium’s high level of veterinary care involves training animals to perform medical behaviours on a voluntary and cooperative basis.

Trainers have been working with Hana to prepare her for an ultrasound. During this harmless procedure, she will be asked to float at the surface of the water while a member of the Aquarium’s veterinary team examines her sides and abdomen with the ultrasound device. Given her progress to date, the Aquarium expects to be able to conduct the procedure within the next week or so. Last fall, 11-year-old Hana arrived at the Aquarium with another Pacific white-sided dolphin, Helen, 18. Both came from Enoshima Aquarium in Japan, where they received extensive medical attention after becoming accidentally entangled in fishing nets.

They have continued their rehabilitation and training in Vancouver. When Hana arrived, she was initially called by her rehabilitation number, Eight. Following a naming contest, she was renamed Hana, which means flower or blossom. As a rehabilitation animal, Hana had minimal training when she arrived. But since that time, trainers have been working with her on animal husbandry and other training.

Over the past few months she has advanced considerably. Based on blood tests and behavioural observations, Hana appears to be in excellent health. She is still very active and shows little outward appearance of being pregnant. Once more is known, the Aquarium will provide visitors and the media with additional information.

Port Stephens expects for dolphin's census to remain the same!

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is hopeful current dolphin numbers in Port Stephens will remain consistent with previous years after yesterday's annual dolphin census.

More than 100 community volunteers were involved in the survey.

Forty-eight dolphins were spotted, but that is only half the count. Final results are expected later this afternoon.

Between 100 and 150 dolphins are usually recorded in the port.

Area manager Rob Gibbs says the census is one of many ways to gain a better understanding of the local dolphin population.

"We've had photo ID monitoring that's been going for the past six years as well," he said.
"We have to look at all the different impacts that are occurring on the animals and a lot of that comes from recreational boat traffic and the commercial dolphin watch boat traffic.

"We've been looking at that for the last six years in conjunction with the dolphin watch industry and to try to minimise the impact that is occurring."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Massive counts of beached dolphins is still a mystery!

Preliminary investigations have failed to yield an explanation of why hundreds of dolphins left their deep offshore habitat, got stranded in shallow waters and later washed up dead on Zanzibar's northern coast, a scientist said Tuesday.

"It is a mystery," Narriman Jiddawi, a marine biologist at the Institute of Marine Science of the University of Dar es Salaam, said after studying tissue samples and the remains of some of the 400 common bottleneck dolphins.

Dolphin carcasses washed up Friday along a 2.5-mile stretch between Kendwa and Nungwi beaches. The dolphins had no bruises to indicate they had been entangled in fishing nets, Jiddawi said.

A U.S. Navy task force patrols the coast of East Africa in counterterrorism operations.

A Navy spokesman ruled out the possibility Navy sonar might have disoriented the dolphins and led to their deaths. He said there were no U.S. Navy vessels within 580 miles of the location in the 48 hours before it happened.

"In the U.S. alone, a person is 10 times more likely to be struck by lightning than for sonar to cause a marine mammal stranding," Lt. William Marks said.

Scientists said they were mystified by the mass deaths.

"A day earlier, fishermen reported seeing them at sea at high tide, but the next morning they appeared dead," Jiddawi said. "We don't know why they left offshore waters in such a large number and got stranded."

Preliminary examination of their stomachs indicated the dolphins had either not eaten for a long time or had vomited severely. Their general condition, however, showed that they had not starved, she said.

Experts planned to further examine the dolphins' stomachs for traces of poison, including from the toxic "red tides" of algae.

Zanzibar's resorts attract many visitors who come to watch and swim with wild dolphins.

The Indo-Pacific bottlenose, humpback and spinner porpoises, commonly known as dolphins, are the most common species in Zanzibar's coastal waters, with bottlenose and humpback dolphins often found in mixed-species groups.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A dozen dolphins washed ashore in Bulgaria

A total of 12 dead dolphins had washed ashore along Bulgaria's Black Sea coast on Tuesday.After reports that three dead dolphins had been found at the northern seaside, media now reported that more drowned dolphins had been discovered, bringing the death toll to a dozen. Five bodies were found at the Shabla campsite, near Varna, three more were near the Chernomorets hut, and two were at the beach of Krapets village.

Authorities also picked up a body from a beach in the Golden Sands resort, and another one from Varna's Asparuhovo district. The dolphins most likely drowned after they got tangled up in fishing nets, experts say. They couldn't collect biological samples, because of the bodies' advance state of decomposition. Environment Minister Dzhevdet Chakarov and Agriculture and Forestry Minister Nihar Kabil issued a joint decree, banning the use of fishing nets, came into effect on Tuesday.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"