Sunday, October 29, 2006

Lost dolphin ends up in river

A common dolphin was in uncommon surroundings yesterday -- swimming in the Fore River, just outside the Braintree Yacht Club, until it exited Boston Harbor with high tide around 3 p.m., according to Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium.

The aquarium was alerted that the dolphin was in the river late in the morning and volunteer biologists were able to observe the 7-foot-long and roughly 200 pound dolphin from a yacht club float .

The biologists said that the dolphin appeared healthy, other than being slightly underweight, as it was swimming well and its respirations appeared nearly normal.

LaCasse said it is highly unusual for a dolphin to be in the Fore River, or even Boston Harbor. Because dolphins are social creatures and usually travel in groups, it was troubling that this one was alone at a time of year when it should not be so close to shore.

Aquarium biologists were hoping that the dolphin would make it into deeper waters before today's forecasted storm because the shallow water in the harbor would not protect it from violent tides.
The last time a dolphin was reported in Boston Harbor was in 2004.

Orphaned dolphin was rescued

Mississippi marine biologists are caring for a young Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, which was stranded in Louisiana after apparently being orphaned.

A team from Gulfport's Institute for Marine Mammal Studies traveled Wednesday to Grand Isle, Louisiana, to rescue the male dolphin, believed to be two or three years old.

The animal, which has some health problems, was found stranded on the beach at Grand Isle.
Institute president Moby Solangi says dolphin has a urinary tract infection, was slightly dehydrated and had some rashes.

The dolphin is six feet long and weighs about 200 pounds.

A veterinarian, two biologists and a logistics staff member returned the dolphin to Gulfport yesterday (Thursday).

The dolphin has been placed in 24-hour quarantine. It is resting in a 15-by-40-foot inflatable pool that's about six feet deep. It will be under observation for at least 30 days.

After that, federal officials will assess his health and make a decision whether to reintroduce him to the wild.

Beached dolphin is getting better

A young dolphin is recovering at a Gulfport facility after being rescued late Wednesday night.
The 2-year-old male dolphin was found beached in Grand Isle, Louisiana. His mother was no where to be found.

A team from the Institute of Marine Mammal Studies transported him overnight to their temporary facilities on the Industrial Seaway. It will be the first rehabilitation for the facility.

The dolphin will remain under quarantine for about a month until he's nursed back to health.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Stranded dolphin has been rescued!

The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies rescued a stranded juvenile dolphin Wednesday night near the Grand Isle-Grand Terre area of Louisiana.

The rescue was made at the request of National Marine Fisheries Service. The dolphin was taken to the rehab facility in Gulfport, where it is in stable condition and under quarantine while tests are run to determine the animal's health.

Restrictions proposed to decrease dolphins' deaths

Fishing restrictions proposed to reduce dolphin deaths

New interim fishing restrictions are proposed to reduce the threatened Hector’s and Maui’s dolphin deaths this summer, says Minister of Fisheries Jim Anderton and Minister of Conservation Chris Carter.

Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins are the world’s smallest and rarest marine dolphin. The South Island has around 7,000 Hector’s dolphins, with around 5,400 of these on the West Coast.

The North Island Maui’s dolphin population is estimated at only 111 animals.

“These dolphins live close inshore and are particularly at risk of getting caught in set nets and drowning,” Jim Anderton says. “There are already a range of fishing restrictions around New Zealand to reduce Hector’s dolphin deaths in set nets.

“The government is developing a Threat Management Plan for Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins. This Plan will look at all threats to the dolphins, including fishing, and how these can be managed for the long-term.”

Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter supports the action taken by Mr Anderton to try to reduce the impact of fishing activities on Hector’s dolphins.

“Hector’s dolphins are New Zealand’s only native dolphin, and due to their numbers, are very much our ‘kakapo of the seas’,” he said.

Mr Carter said that New Zealanders were lucky to have a native coastal dolphin that shares the inshore coastal waters, where people are able to see them from the beach.

“Hector’s dolphins come in close to the shore in the summer months to raise their calves, so it is very important that action is taken now.” Mr Carter said.

The plan is being developed by the Ministry of Fisheries and Department of Conservation, in association with stakeholders and dolphin experts.

“By involving everyone, we will get a better outcome, but such processes take time,” Jim Anderton says.

“So until the plan is developed, I want to look at interim steps to manage some of the immediate threats to the dolphins from set nets. In particular, I am proposing measures for Te Waewae Bay in Southland and for northern Canterbury through to Kaikoura. These, and other proposed measures are now open for public consultation.

“I would emphasise that any such interim measures will eventually be replaced by longer-term solutions identified in the Threat Management Plan," Jim Anderton said.

Background information:

- Hector’s dolphins are New Zealand’s only native dolphin, and one of the smallest dolphins in the world, reaching only 1.5m in length (or 1.6m for the slightly larger Maui’s dolphins).

- They are easily recognisable for their ‘mickey mouse’ shaped rounded dorsal fin, and grey and white markings.

- The two subspecies of Hector’s dolphins, Maui’s (in the North Island), and the South Island Hector’s dolphin, are physically and genetically distinct from each other. This genetic separation suggests that the dolphins do not travel far up and down the coast.

- Hector’s dolphins are classified as “nationally vulnerable” while Maui’s dolphins are listed internationally as “nationally critical”. They are the rarest sub species of marine dolphin in the world.
- Both Hector’s and Mauis can live for up to twenty years.

- They are extremely slow to reproduce, with females taking seven years to reach maturity, and producing one calf every three years. This means most females can only have four or five calves in their lifetime.

- The Banks Peninsula marine mammal sanctuary in Canterbury was established in 1988 primarily to reduce set-net deaths of Hector’s dolphins in the area.

- Set-net controls were introduced to Canterbury in 2002, and the West Coast of the North Island in 2003.

- The Department of Conservation and Ministry of Fisheries are working together to produce a Threat Management Plan to try to reduce human induced impacts on Hector’s dolphins.

Watching bowriding dolphins is quite a sight!

What do you share with dolphins, gorillas and thoughtless blue vans on the interstate? Late August 2005, it was even too hot for bikinis. A large group of dolphins ambled to the south.Just as people party across the calendar, bottlenose dolphins here form large groups any time of year.Like a good party, today's big group was really several little groups called subgroups.

Some of these coolly enviable subgroups were mothers and "aunts" tending delicate newborns. Other clusters of adults were attempting successful dives into the gene pool. Teens swaggered peripherally, blasting skyward in intermittent aerial shoving matches. With action everywhere, it's easy to forget the obvious. What about last year's fragile newborns?

Now older calves, 1- and 2-year-old dolphins are comparable to our 4-7 year olds. They aren't babies. They still need care, attention and direction but they don't think they do. Like human kindergarteners, calves exploit parties, zipping among adults who pay only passing attention.A kindergartener romped around the adults this day, fascinated by the facts of life at sea. Like kids everywhere, it matched the adults' emotional states with, of course, its own spin. When the adults got excited, this little one got really excited.

When the adults calmed down, it became calmer too, as calm as anyone who lives in perpetual effervescence can get. During an interlude, the gene pool divers drifted near the boat. The calf wove among them. The adults started rolling and poking it.Emboldened by their attention, the animated calf positioned itself bravely off our bow to surf.Dolphins surf the front waves of a moving boat in gripping behavior called bowriding (some prefer wakes or real waves).

With the right bow and speed, they surf the momentum of splitting seas without using much energy. If they could, I suppose they would arrange to use boats as taxis like urbanites, flagging us down with great whistles. "Shuweeeet! To the bridge, quick." Few boat passengers fail to crane over the bow to watch bowriding dolphins. Whether it's the dolphins, speed, or both, bowriding exhilarates everybody.Bowriding is scientifically useful too. It reveals dolphin gender.

Bowriding dolphins often surf on their backs, something human body surfers don't do (Xtreme Sports nuts, don't get any ideas). Dolphins are as comfortable on their sides and backs as in the 'upright dorsal position'. Dolphins surf slower boats but have to augment the ride. Like skiing slowly, it takes more effort to balance. To the human observer, slow bowriding in still waters is one of nature's most beautiful images. The suspended surfer lets you ponder the elegant delphinid form.Friend and colleague Bev Mustaine monitored the calf as I drove, shrieking details into the air. Our research boat doesn't have a good bow for bowriding.

The calf couldn't catch a ride. Perhaps plucky by adult proximity, it rolled and whapped the bow in a petulant tail slap.As if startled by its cheekiness, it rocketed forward and shot into the sky in a spectacular bow. When it bowed a second time, I remembered Macca, a miniature male gorilla at the San Diego Zoo. When overwhelmed, he'd rear up his 3-year-old self and beat his tiny chest like he was inventing the bongos. Gorilla chest-pounding is a spontaneous tension-release mechanism and attention-getter. It's the forte of the really big males.

Silverback gorillas can weigh more than 400 pounds. Their social influence is so obvious that all they need to sway the harem is get their attention. These giants rear up, thump out a staccato on their beefy and conveniently-naked chests and drop back on all-fours. That usually settles any issue. Famed primatologist Dian Fossey, who devoted herself to the study of mountain gorillas, reported the same behavior. The first time a gorilla named Peanuts touched her, he leapt up and pounded his chest in obvious tension relief.Humorously, toddler gorillas chest-pound too, little males more than little females. After all, they need the practice.

Covered with hair until puberty (sans the naked chest that makes chest-pounding so resonant), miniature Macca was as menacing as an irate 3-year-old. I laughed at the memory.Perhaps the calf's skyward sojourn served the same tension release and attention-getter as Macca's and Peanut's chest-pounding. The behavior served the same purpose as the spontaneous shudder that rippled out of me after a near-miss sideswipe from a swerving blue van on the interstate. After a narrow escape, we all need extra attention.

Rare type of dolphins spotted

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said it was the first time such a group had been seen in the area.

Little is known about Risso's dolphins which can be up to 12ft long (3.6m).

Bardsey is one of the few places along the UK coast where they can be seen from the shore.
Simon Keith, from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said: "The work we do on Bardsey is providing a better understanding of the distribution, numbers and behaviour of Risso's dolphins and harbour porpoises around the island."

'Bearing fruit'

He said the information could be used to develop conservation plans. "This is the first time we have see so many young calves in the same pod, which is incredibly exciting and emphasises the need for ongoing research," he added.

The work is funded by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), who say it is important for the long-term future of the dolphins.

CCW's marine mammals ecologist Dr Mandy McMath said:"I am delighted that this project is bearing fruit, and gathering much needed information so that the marine environment is managed in a way that ensures Risso's dolphins long-term conservation."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dolphins activists will voice their concerns against dolphins in captivity

Both sides of the dolphin debate will have close to 1,000 key tourism stakeholders in their audience at the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Annual Conference and Trade Show in Grand Cayman.

While the pro-dolphin establishments remain tight-lipped about their participation in the 31 October to 3 November conference, the anti-dolphin campaigners said they will raise their voices.
Government has given permission to owners of two dolphinariums to establish their businesses in West Bay.

Minister of Tourism, Hon Charles Clifford, said that he believes the captive dolphin attractions will be safe and will be monitored by Government agencies.

The Keep Dolphin Free in the Cayman Islands group said this week that it had joined forces with international organisations to "take captive dolphin issue to the cruise industry".

Organisations teaming up with the groups are the Cayman Islands Humane Society, the Jamaica Environment Trust, the Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International, and the Antigua and Barbuda Independent Tourism Promotion Council.

The local group's spokesperson, Billy Adam, said that a booth would be set up at the trade show to educate cruise tourism leaders about the negative effect that dolphinariums have on the environment.

"The objective of our booth is to provide environmental education, information and awareness of the facts surrounding the captive dolphin tourist entertainment industry, including Swim With The Dolphin programmes," he said.

The booth is supported and assisted by other international organisations including Captive Dolphin Awareness Foundation, the Dolphin Project, Global Coral Reef Alliance, LMitchell Enterprises, Marine Connection, One Voice, PHXX, Rogest, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Other local and foreign organisations that share the group's position on keeping the dolphins free for a multitude of reasons will join the activists in the trade show.

Mr Adam said that while the focus of his organisation would be on the Cayman Islands, that matter has implications for the cruise tourism sector worldwide.

"While our local group is dedicated to keeping dolphins free in the Cayman Islands, the implications of the industry are of great importance to the wider Caribbean and, in fact, the international community," he said.

Mr Adam explained that the cruise sector in the region has been a major source of customers for the dolphinariums.

"The cruise lines operating in the Caribbean provide the captive dolphin attractions in this area with about 80 percent of their customers," he said.

The environmentalists welcomed the largest conference in the Cayman Islands' history, saying that it offers a wonderful opportunity to widen their stand against captive dolphins.

"While our local group is dedicated to keeping dolphins free in the Cayman Islands, the implications of the industry are of great importance to the wider Caribbean and, in fact, the international community," he said.

The conference and trade show will attractive representatives from the Caribbean, the USA, Europe and other regions of the world, displaying products and services available to cruise visitors.

Delegates will get media kits, scientific reports, books, DVD videos and a new release of an original print "Break the Chains - Keep Dolphins Free" by renowned marine artist Ron Steven, and other supporting materials to study so that informed decisions can be made on the issue, the spokesman said.

In 2005, the Regent Seven Seas Cruises (formerly Radisson) studied the captive dolphin industry then decided to stop dolphin encounter excursions at its ports of call, the Keep Dolphin Free body said.

Visitors to the booth will get a chance to speak with scientists and conservationists from across the region including Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, the United States and the Cayman Islands, Mr Adam said.

The Keep Dolphin Free in the Cayman Islands said it would be offering information on sustainable tourism and good environmental practices in the Caribbean at its 'number six' booth at the trade show.

"We welcome all delegates and visitors from fellow Caribbean destinations to stop by the booth for an exchange of information on sustainable tourism in the Caribbean, including the benefits of being environmentally responsible, educated, and innovative partners in the care of both natural resources - our primary tourism "product" - and marine mammals," said Mr Adam.

The Keep Dolphin Free group in the Cayman Islands will host a press conference on 31 October at 6:30 pm at the Kirk B meeting room at the Ritz-Carlton on the Seven Mile Beach.

Interested parties, including the Government and the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), are invited to the press conference, according to the group.

Proposed protective rules for Spinner dolphins in Hawaiian waters

The Department of Land and Natural Resources today issued a statement in support of federal efforts to provide additional protection to spinner dolphins whose daytime rest periods are often disturbed by tour boats, kayakers, snorkelers and other ocean users.

The statement by DLNR Chairman Peter Young and three other department officials said the state supports "any reasonable effort to prevent such disturbance."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service is developing an environmental impact statement and proposed dolphin protection rules to govern interactions between humans and spinner dolphins.

The DLNR officials also clarified that the state has no authority to regulate activities involving spinner dolphins because the marine mammals are not listed as endangered species. However, the dolphins are covered under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, with NOAA responsible for enforcement.

The officials said the state plans to work with NOAA to promote public compliance with any new dolphin protection measures that may result from the federal agency's rule-making process.
"We are confident there are management solutions that will allow for enjoyable, educational, economically viable and culturally appropriate dolphin watching activities in Hawai'i. We continue to support responsible shore-based and boat-based dolphin watching, especially during the early morning and late afternoon, when dolphins are not in their deep resting phase and more active ... ," the DLNR statement said.

NOAA will hold public meetings on proposed regulations on interactions between humans and spinner dolphins Tuesday at McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Park; Thursday at the Aloha Beach Resort on Kaua'i; Oct. 25 at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary headquarters in Kihei, Maui; and Oct. 26 at the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua, Kona. All meetings are from 6 to 9 p.m.

Dolphins are more intelligent than a certain expert thinks!

Dolphins have remarkable equipment for negotiating their watery world: a gigantic brain, excellent memory, profound hearing and their tour de force echolocation.Echolocation is a perfectly-named sensory system for locating objects by sound. Bats and dolphins send out sound waves that ricochet back in an altered state, changed by the size and material they hit.Dolphins differentiate plastic from metal, air pockets from tissue and tell metals apart. Imagine being able to hear blood flow.

They have reasonable vision and the same basic sense of taste as people.Speaking of good taste, they also have something that makes them part bloodhound. Dolphins occasionally follow the trails of long-gone dolphins with startling precision. Consider the following.At sea, our boat sensing equipment puts a visual track of our journeys on a computer map. We can see exactly where the dolphins have been.

Dawn on April Fool's Day this year, we were preparing to launch when dolphins swam past in pastel waters of pink and orange. Around the corner, two dozen dolphins mingled loosely. Some hunted along sea walls. Others blended snacks and sex. This quiet riot was mesmerizing. It kept my cameras clicking. Eventually the picnic broke up. Subgroups began heading in different directions. We trailed a congenial quartet. They rose so rhythmically in water as smooth as ice, we were soon as serene as they.

Such strolls take your blood pressure home. We hated to leave to do our scheduled survey.We found the cordial quartet later, still rolling and petting as they meandered southward across a shallow sea grass meadow toward John's Pass. We went north. Next was a lone dolphin (a singleton) from Sarasota, Mote 130. As we trailed it to take its picture, it did the most startlingly thing: It virtually took the same path as the long-gone quartet. Then there was that steamy Aug. 13, when mother-calf Valiant and VC swam across from a pretty little mangrove island to the north.

They swam in syncopation like dolphins do when they're going somewhere directly, Valiant breathing first, VC breathing right after.They entered a narrow pass to a broad bay, veering left at one point before straightening out and heading directly for a promising sand spit. Valiant hunted. VC frolicked nearby, still nourished on Valiant's milk without the need for serious solids. When they left, they headed towards The Narrows until Valiant found another promising place to eat. We left them, finished the northern survey and passed the pretty little mangrove island on the return leg about an hour later.

As before, we spied a mother-calf pair across from it. They too swam in the synchrony of dolphins with a destination. They cut through the narrow pass into the broad bay, veered left at the entrance and aimed for the same sand spit as Valiant and VC had done. Mother hunted. Calf frolicked nearby. It was that funny little veer to the left that caught my eye. Had Valiant and VC done the preposterous and sped southward to repeat their previous behavior? If not, who were these guys? Not all dolphins are recognizable in the field.

I couldn't wait to get back to the lab. The second pair was Strip and Stripe. They'd done exactly as Valiant and VC had done an hour before.Lastly, the enthusiastically randy males Riptab and BB were prancing around Scrapefin the September morning of the Treasure Island Regatta. We usually attribute such behavior to the rites of spring, but dolphins here date heavily in the fall.

They carried on for quite a while before sprinting towards the Gulf of Mexico. Presently, another trio appeared. Two of the three slowly traced the steps of the long-gone mating dolphins.Maybe dolphins are part bloodhound. What else can they do that we don't suspect?

Is canned tuna really dolphin friendly?

Where would we be without a tin of tuna? In many kitchen cupboards the ever-ready tuna chunks have become the 21st century's answer to baked beans: quick, tasty, brimming with fatty acids and other healthy things. Sainsbury's alone sells 665,000 tins a week. What is more, this bottomless thirst for tuna fish is shared by most of the world. Between us we ate roughly four million tons of tuna last year.

On many cans you will spot a "dolphin friendly" logo. In the 1990s tuna fleets were forced to clean up their act by fitting all nets with special hatches through which accidentally caught cetaceans could escape. These measures were successful, as far as they went, and have created the legend that tuna is a "green" food, healthy for us, healthy for the environment. Hence that happy dolphin.
Don't believe a word of it.

Every chunk of tuna comes from a wild fish. Because tuna are wide-ranging, fast-moving ocean fish, fisheries have developed awesome techniques for catching them. Fleets use vast purse-seine nets to scoop them out of the sea, while Japanese vessels, in particular, trail lines of baited hooks many miles long.

Such methods are undiscriminating. The bycatch - that is, the non-target species - routinely includes sharks, turtles and albatrosses. The ratio is about four sharks caught for every tuna. According to the Shark Trust, longlines operating off New Zealand have snapped up 450,000 blue sharks in 10 years.

There are now ominous signs that the targeted catch is also in trouble. The fish everyone wants to find in their net is the bluefin tuna. There are two closely related species, one in the northern oceans and the other in the southern seas. Both are magnificent fish. They grow up to two metres long and can weigh 500kg. Yet, despite their bulk, they are among the fittest, fastest beings in the ocean: sleek, warm-blooded and the ultimate in fishy power.

Two things are combining to bring down the bluefin. One is their slow breeding rate -they take at least 10 years to become sexually mature, and so are vulnerable to overfishing.

The other problem is that bluefin are expensive. A full-sized fish can fetch tens of thousands of dollars. And a market that was once centred in Japan is widening by the year. Many countries, including Britain, have acquired a taste for sashimi - thin slivers of raw tuna dunked in soya sauce. Last year we imported 1,600 tons of the stuff, worth £8.6m. But that is small beer compared with the potential market in China, where a fast-growing middle class eyes bluefin sushi as the ultimate gastronomic status symbol.

This isn't sustainable. Although bluefin can be farmed, no one has yet worked out a way of rearing them from eggs. All farmed tuna are simply wild-caught from the sea and fattened up. But stocks are becoming dangerously depleted. Catches around the Balearic Islands are down to just 15 per cent of what they were a decade ago, and six Spanish tuna farms have gone out of business.

According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) which is monitoring bluefin closely, fleets from the EU, as well as from Japan, Libya and Turkey, are routinely ignoring fishing quotas and failing to report their true catch (and thus avoiding paying tax). Hence no one knows how many bluefin are being caught in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. But it is certainly enough to put the population in peril.

"The fishery is out of control," says Dr Sergei Tudela, the head of fisheries for WWF. "Bluefin stocks are on the brink of collapse." The hungry market has brushed aside weakly enforced conservation measures with contempt. For example, says Tudela, last year France admitted exceeding its quota by 60 per cent. Evidence indicates that 50,000 tons of bluefin were removed from the eastern Atlantic last year, despite an all-nation agreed quota of 32,000.

Tudela is lobbying the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), which is responsible for regulating the fishery, to adopt a strict recovery plan for the northern bluefin. He calls for an immediate close season on bluefin fishing from May to July, when the fish spawn. Beyond that, he wants to raise the minimum catch weight from 10kg to 30 kg. He calls for the EU to reduce over-capacity by scaling down fishing fleets. And he insists on much better control and reporting, with observers being allowed aboard all vessels.

ICCAT will meet in November to consider these proposals. The British Government supports them. France, Italy and Japan, it seems, do not.

It is much the same story in the Antipodes, where the sinking species is the equally delicious southern bluefin tuna. Australia has a successful A$280m (£110m) operation based on capturing the fish live and fattening them up in cages. Yet, despite strict quotas on the catch, the southern bluefin has been declining year on year. Now there are barely enough left to sustain the fishery.

The man in charge of Australia's fisheries policy, Richard McLoughlin, is angry. Despite an agreed national quota of 6,000 tons, he claims to have proof that Japan has been catching "anywhere between 12,000 and 20,000 tons for the past 20 years and hiding it". By illegally taking A$2bn [£800m] worth of tuna, Japan "has probably killed off the stock" . According to the most recent estimate, only four per cent of the original biomass of southern bluefin survives.

This species is currently classed as "critically endangered". Without urgent intervention, the southern bluefin is probably doomed to commercial, if not actual, extinction. But so long as Japan continues to allow only Japanese inspectors on board its fishing vessels, and refuses to install satellite monitoring systems, there is no way of checking its catches. All scientists know is what that country imports. It looks like stalemate unless Japan can be persuaded to see reason.

Can we, as consumers, do anything to reverse what is fast shaping up towards a double whammy - the commercial extinction of two of the world's favourite edible fish? Wait until the outcome of the November ICCAT talks, says Sergei Tudela. If the talks succeed, there is a chance of saving at least the northern bluefin. If not, then it may be time to look deeply into our green souls. And to pass that sushi by.

What not to eat


Northern bluefin (north Pacific and Atlantic oceans, Mediterranean)

Caught by seine nets and long-line and cage-farmed (in the western Mediterranean). The world's most expensive tuna, eaten as sushi. Much of the 45,000-ton annual catch goes to Japan.
Status: Data insufficient, but considered endangered in Atlantic

Southern bluefin (mostly caught off Australasia and South-east Asia)

Stocks have fallen by 95 per cent since the 1950s, and there has been a supposedly strict quota system in force since 1985. Caught mainly by longline, but also farmed in South Australia. Eaten as sushi.
Status: Critically endangered

Bigeye (tropical and temperate seas, excluding the Mediterranean)

Smaller fish weighing 4kg to 16 kg. With the decline in bluefin, fisheries turned to this species, which is now also declining. Atlantic stocks are down 50 per cent in 10 years.
Status: Vulnerable. Pacific stocks endangered


Yellowfin (tropical and subtropical seas)

Up to two metres long (200kg) but more usually 7kg to 25 kg. Likes to swim with other large fish and dolphins, hence a large dolphin bycatch until escape hatches were introduced in 1990s. Probably overfished, but stocks are still fairly healthy. Sold frozen, canned or fresh as sushi.
Status Lower risk; conservation dependent

Skipjack (tropical and subtropical seas)

Smaller fish, 3kg to 7 kg. Often found in large schools near the surface. Caught in seine nets or with line gear. No stock assessments since 1999 but probably still fairly healthy. Skipjack is the main species of canned tuna, with a catch rate of 1.5 to 2.2 billion tonnes a year.
Status Not threatened

Baby Winter to get a new tail

Rescuers didn't think three-month-old Winter would survive after she was found tangled up in a fishing net in shallow water off Florida in America.

But the young mammal learnt to swim again although she can't do lots of dolphin moves like jumping.

Winter's keepers are not sure how the new tail will work but hope it will help her to swim like a dolphin again.

Experts are still working on the new tail and it's thought the bottle nosed dolphin will have four or five different sizes as she gets bigger.

'Healthy and happy'

Winter will never be released into the wild and it expected she will stay at Clearwater Marine Aquarium where she lives at the moment.

Her keepers say that despite her disability she is healthy and happy.

Aquarium spokesperson David Yates said: "The ultimate aim is to give Winter the best life we can. The tail is just part of this process."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Rescued dolphin should return to the wild soon

A bottle-nose dolphin, which was stranded along the coast of south China, has been doing well following two weeks of treatment and is expected to return to the sea in about a month after it fully recovers, experts said on Wednesday.The male dolphin, weighing 250-kg and measuring 2.55 metres in length, was found beached in shallow water near Shatian Town, Hepu county of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region by a fisherman on Sep 19.

It was taken to the zoo in Nanning, the regional capital, for treatment later that day.The dolphin, which is now eating seven kilograms of food a day, is still recovering from lacerations, said Zou Guiming, an official of the Nanning Zoo.The dolphin will be released back to the sea if experts agree that it will survive.

Experts say they will give the dolphin additional time at the zoo if they think it can't survive on its own, said Zou.Experts believe that the dolphin may have become stranded after it became disoriented perhaps because of an earthquake at sea or an illness.When the dolphin was discovered its skin had dried out and was cracked, said Yang Caichang, another official of the zoo.

Experts treated the dolphin with injections and an intravenous drip, before transporting the animal to the zoo on a yacht.The bottle-nose dolphin is listed as an endangered animal and stranded dolphins are not easily saved, according to experts.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Spinner dolphins need more protection

HONOLULU Federal authorities are studying whether more regulations are needed to limit human interaction with spinner dolphins.Spinner dolphins feed for much of the night, then come into nearshore bays to rest and play during the day in their natural state.

But increasingly, they are having to spend their much-needed rest time dealing adoring humans.
People swim from the beaches, paddle kayaks and board tour boats to get near the dolphins.
Chris Yates is the assistant regional administrator for protected resources at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service.

He says a lot of what happens is beyond the bounds of responsible wildlife viewing.
Federal authorities plan to hold a series of public meetings on the topic later this month.

Dolphins and companionship

Remember Frank Sinatra's song "I Wish I Were in Love Again?" "The lovely loving and the hateful hates, the conversation with the flying plates, I wish I were in love again ..."No one claims dolphins fall in love. They certainly don't marry. Social to the core, however, each has its favorite companions.

The problem is how to think about dolphin relationships.Two dolphins in our fair waters named DD1 and N have a definite relationship of some sort. DD1 is female. We find her on most surveys. Often alone, she nonetheless knows when the dolphins are having a party and is usually there. N is male. When we find N, he's usually with her. If they were humans, we'd say they're good friends or a couple.

However, animal behaviorists avoid talking about animals in human terms when it is inaccurate (anthropomorphism), which gets harder as you know animals better.Scientists measure dolphin companionship mathematically with the Coefficient of Association. The higher the coefficient, the more often two dolphins are together. DD1 and N have a high CoA. Translated, they spend a lot of time together. I'm not sure what to call their relationship. The term 'associates' is so hygienic. And their companionship is always provocative.

Dolphin relationships are hard to define in general because their companionships are fluid. Dolphins are often in the vicinity of one another but do not appear, from the surface anyway, to interact. You need time to see if they join up later.If they do join and meander together for a time, what do we conclude? Very good people friends may or may not spend a lot of time together. Deep friendship is not predicated on time together. Plus, what is time to creatures who are awake their entire lives?

One pretty June afternoon, a dozen dolphins threaded through a boat parade. Boat parades are series of boats that bunch up at no wake zones like cars bunch up around a four-way stop. It's tough to track dolphins through boat parades. They go deep and avoid the danger. We too must negotiate the traffic.Little clusters of dolphins socialized as they wound around the boats. Calves leapt and jabbed. Moms relaxed side by side.

N was trying to mate DD1. He'd swim over her (literally), they'd submerge and reappear amid splashes and sudden veering turns. She'd speed ahead, him hot on her heels. Flashes of white in green waters meant a dolphin rolling and 'flashing its white belly' at the other, the delphinid version of "Hey, check me out." It wasn't clear she was avoiding him until she kicked him in the face, neatly accomplished with a flick of the flukes during a chase. He persisted. Finally, she clarified her opinion with a dramatic behavior called rostral ram-aerial avoid.

In this behavior, one dolphin leaps skyward to avoid the underwater lunge of the other dolphin, which continues into the air. DD1 shot over the water in an aerial U-turn. N shot out after her. Then a big boat rumbled by. They bolted to surf its waves.Given that DD1 had her calf a month later, her ambivalence was understandable. Unhappily, her light-colored calf didn't survive. Afterwards, DD1 swam heavily, barely clearing the surface to breathe.

N swam at her side. One misty August morning, they were hunting. Each swung by the boat (link to Just swinging by) before resuming their search. Foraging dolphins usually work alone in solo search for sustenance. But they suddenly joined up, splashing the surface with a tail whip, a sign of conflict. It didn't last long.

They returned to feeding, DD1 powering through the water after a meal worth rushing for.Remembering their spat in June, I laughed. They reminded me of a bickering old couple whose relationship is unassailable. But they also made me wonder: Exactly how well established is the relationship between food and sex?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Rescued bottlenose dolphin is doing well

A bottlenose dolphin that was stranded along the coast of south China has been doing well following two weeks of treatment and is expected to return to the sea in about a month after it fully recovers, experts said on Wednesday.

The male dolphin, weighing 250 kg and measuring 2.55 meters in length, was found beached in shallow water near Shatian Town, Hepu County of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region by a fisherman on Sept.19. It was taken to the zoo in Nanning, the regional capital, for treatment later that day.

The dolphin, which is now eating seven kilograms of food a day, is still recovering from lacerations, said Zou Guiming, an official of the Nanning Zoo.

The dolphin will be released back to the sea if experts agree that it will survive.

Experts say they will give the dolphin additional time at the zoo if they think it can't survive on its own, said Zou.

Experts believe that the dolphin may have become stranded after it became disoriented perhaps because of an earthquake at sea or an illness.

When the dolphin was discovered its skin had dried out and was cracked, said Yang Caichang, another official of the zoo.

Experts treated the dolphin with injections and an intravenous drip, before transporting the animal to the zoo on a yacht.

The bottlenose dolphin is listed as an endangered animal and stranded dolphins are not easily saved, according to experts

Beached Risso's dolphin dies

The 10-foot long Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) that beached along the Cayanga River in San Fabian town on Saturday died Tuesday morning, said Westly Rosario, chief of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) research center here.

The mammal had a wound in the left mouth and had welts around its body, Rosario said.
“Two biologists were observing and assisting (the dolphin) the entire night. We were also getting tips from the Ocean Adventure in Subic for its upkeep,” Rosario added.

But at around 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, he said the dolphin started to breathe heavily and died before 6 a.m.

The dolphin measured 6.6 feet around its belly and 10.3 feet long. It weighed a ton and was the biggest among the dolphins that have beached in the coastal towns and cities of Pangasinan.
The dolphin will be buried at the cemetery for endangered species inside the BFAR research center.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"