Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sightings of common dolphins

Data gathered by marine charity Sea Watch, will help inform researchers.

Sea Watch, which is organising next week's event, has reported several common dolphin sightings around the Northern Isles in the past few weeks.

A group of between 60 and 100 were recently seen north of Fair Isle, the largest number in 50 years.

Over the last five years, several sightings of the species were reported in Shetland but always involving small groups and during mid to late summer.

Unusual sightings

For the first time, sightings over winter and in early spring are also being reported from the north of Scotland and down the east coast as far as the Firth of Forth.

Dr Peter Evans, research director of the Sea Watch Foundation, said: "This is probably related to the continued strong flow of the North Atlantic current which is likely to have brought warmer water species of fish like anchovy and pilchard, that are typical prey of common dolphins, into more northern waters."

The National Whale and Dolphin Watch, which runs from the 23 June to 1 July, is held annually allowing the public to join experienced whale and dolphin spotters at lookout points around the coast and record numbers of marine mammals.

Scottish locations for manned watches include Strathy Point in north Sutherland, Gairloch Marine Life Centre, the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick and Chanonry Point, Moray Firth.

Boaters bitten by wild dolphins!

You expect it from sharks, but marine researchers are concerned about the growing number of dolphin bite cases.

Most of the problems are happening in the same area, near the Albee Street Bridge in Sarasota County.

Mote Marine Laboratory researchers say a dolphin named Beggar bit a woman from Lakeland June 7th when she reached out of the boat to pet him. And they say it’s not the first time.
Boaters have been illegally feeding Beggar for years and researchers say the wild dolphin is becoming more aggressive around people.

Jason Allen, Sarasota Dolphin Research Program: “It seems more reasonable to understand why you wouldn’t feed a bear or something more dangerous appearing but these are wild animals. They are wild animals with lots of sharp teeth. It’s dangerous for the animals to feed the animals, and it’s dangerous for the people when you feed the animals.”

Based on years of studying Beggar, researchers believe he is the only dolphin in the Bay area that reaches up to boaters and sometimes bites them.

It’s illegal to feed, harass, swim with, or follow wild dolphins. You could face a misdemeanor charge.

Another beached dolphin

A Risso's dolphin found on the Tower Road beach in Delaware State Seashore Park was being tended to by marine-rescue volunteers this afternoon.

Volunteers with the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute, Inc., a marine animal rescue organization, set up beach umbrellas to shade the dolphin and poured water over it to keep it cool.

The dolphin was spotted after it left the water and beached itself. MERR volunteers said they hoped to temporarily place the animal in a pool

Dolphins' migration could be a clue of sea warming

Whales and dolphins from the Mediterranean are for the first time being regularly seen in northern Scottish waters.

Scientists say that the phenomenon may be the result of rising sea temperatures off the West Coast of Scotland.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust has also recorded changes in the habits of minke whales. Until 2005, minkes arrived in the spring and stayed until October and November, but they are now leaving in July and August. The trust monitors whale and dolphin populations around the Argyll Islands, which are regarded as an important European cetacean habitat.

Nearly one third of the world’s population of whales, dolphins and porpoises have been recorded there.

Cally Fleming, the chief executive of the trust, said that warm-water species such as the striped dolphin and common dolphin, both of which are from the Mediterranean, were regularly sighted in Argyll.

Sightings of basking sharks and beaked whales, a warm-water species rarely seen in the Hebrides, were also becoming increasingly common.

There has been a corresponding decline in sightings of colder-water cetaceans such as the whitesided dolphin and the white-beaked dolphin.

Whales and dolphins are regarded as signal species for research into oceanic change because they are at the top of the food chain. Their distribution and wellbeing provide a good indication of the health of the entire ecosystem.

Jack Matthews, a professor of marine biology and chairman of the trust, said that temperatures on the West Coast had changed. “There is a need for long-term studies of species distribution to document the physical changes,” he said.

Professor Matthews is also worried that the North Atlantic Drift is weakening. Water in the North Sea needs to be cold to sink and cause the displacement that creates the Gulf Stream. Professor Matthews said that there had been a smaller increase in temperature on the West Coast of Scotland compared with the North Sea. “That fits in with the theory about the weakening of the Atlantic Drift,” he said.

This could ultimately lead to the switching-off of the world’s oceanic circulation system, something that has not happened for 11,000 years. Scotland, which is on on the same latitude as Labrador, could face a much colder climate and even permafrost.

Robin Harper, the leader of the Green Party in Scotland, said: “The research is good news in that there are still species to see; as others move out, new ones come in. People observing this are going to be acutely conscious of the effect of climate change.”

Government needs more to ban live dolphin exportation

"For now I want proven scientific findings of arguments put forward by those that oppose the exportation of dolphin," said Sogavare. "At this point in time I am not yet convinced of the arguments put forth by those against it." Sogavare said that there are enough domestic laws to protect the illegal exportation of dolphins.

"I can only go by the laws of this country, the law prohibits the export of dolphins illegally and there is hefty fine of SB$100,000 to those that do it illegally," said Sogavare. Reliable sources have stated that the person in the centre of the row is known to have a valid license for the exportation of marine life, which may also include dolphins. "I take it that the statement by the PM means that if it is done legally then it is ok," stated one concerned local environmentalist.

What is more worrying to these environmentalists is the fact that the Solomon Islands fisheries minister has recently expressed his full support for the resumption of controversial live dolphin exports. Fisheries Minister Nollen Leni has reportedly told Naomi Rose of the Humane Society International in the United States that the killing of dolphins was part of Solomon's culture and exporting them live could earn money for the country.

Mr Leni also alleged that advanced countries such as the US also catch and sell dolphins to entertainment parks. Trained dolphins can fetch up to 30-thousand US dollars or more on the world market to entertain crowds at aquatic parks. Environmentalists groups worldwide have maintained that they are watching developments closely warning of dire consequences to the economy of Solomon Islands if these dolphins are allowed to leave our shores.

Dolphin's calf death brings light on dolphin communication

Despite the recent loss of a newborn dolphin calf, a marine mammal acoustic researcher said Sunday the ability to record sounds emanating from the calf as it was born may provide new insight into dolphin communications.

"We have his first sounds, which took place about two seconds after birth," said Jack Kassewitz of

Before that, scientists had wondered whether dolphins took a long time to learn sound and echo location or whether they were hardwired at birth.

The calf was born last Monday to a deaf Atlantic bottlenose dolphin named Castaway.

After it died Friday, volunteers at the Marine Mammal Conservancy named it Wilson after actor Tom Hanks' volleyball companion in the 2000 motion picture Cast Away.

Kassewitz believes it is the first time an infant's sounds have been recorded in an isolated environment without multiple dolphins present.

"With Wilson we can now see exactly how the first parts of language in dolphins exist," he said.
Preliminary necropsy findings did not reveal the cause of Wilson's death.

On the Net:

Marine Mammal Conservancy:

Sunday, June 17, 2007

No cause of death for dead dolphin calf

Preliminary findings from a necropsy performed on a calf born to a deaf Atlantic bottlenose dolphin show no apparent cause of death, officials said Saturday.

The nearly eight-hour animal autopsy that began Friday was performed by an independent veterinarian selected by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Robert Lingenfelser, president of the Marine Mammal Conservancy, said.

"After a thorough and detailed necropsy, we could not find an apparent cause of death," Lingenfelser said. "There was nothing obvious."

Multiple tissue samples and major organs are being submitted to several independent labs. It could take months for tests to be completed, he said.

The dolphin was only five days old when it died Friday. His mother, Castaway, appears to be in good condition.

Castaway originally stranded off Vero Beach in November and was initially deemed healthy enough for release. But instead of swimming offshore, Castaway returned to the beach three times and then was transported to the Keys, where it was diagnosed to be deaf.

Pink dolphin specie may face extinction soon

Fears for the future of the Amazonian pink river dolphin are rising after a surge in their indiscriminate killing and the launch of a government plan to build several hydro-electric dams in the region.

Until recently the freshwater dolphin - known in Brazil as the boto - was not considered at risk, but environmentalists in the Amazon now believe the dolphin could face the same fate as the Yangtze river dolphin, which was recently declared "functionally extinct" due to a combination of pollution and dam projects.

The boto is still widespread compared to other river dolphins. Since 2000, however, Brazilian scientists have registered a sharp drop in their number.

"I see that this is becoming the destiny of the boto of Amazonia," said Vera da Silva, a biologist at the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Manaus. In the Mamiraua ecological reserve 330 miles from Manaus, which has one of the highest concentrations of botos, researchers believe the population is dropping by around 10% a year.

In Brazil the main threat to the boto is the growing use of its flesh as bait. Dr da Silva said fishing techniques imported from Colombia had led to indiscriminate capture. The number of mutilated animals, without fins, with a name carved into their backs or with puncture marks as if they have been harpooned had also risen significantly, she added.

Environmentalists are also worried about a plan for hydro-electric dams in the Amazon basin, which many fear would isolate groups of river dolphin.

The boto, believed by some to have migrated to the Amazon around 15m years ago from the Pacific Ocean, is central to Amazonian folklore.

Calf of deaf dolphin dies

The calf of a stranded deaf Atlantic bottlenose dolphin died Friday morning at a Florida marine mammal rehabilitation center.The male infant is being transported to a National Marine Fisheries laboratory for a necropsy to be conducted, said Robert Lingenfelser, president of the Marine Mammal Conservancy.

«About 9 p.m. last night, we noticed the infant was showing signs of distress,» said Lingenfelser. «Its breathing was labored and it was struggling to swim.Lingenfelser said veterinarians and volunteers stayed with the calf through the night helping it to swim as well as nursing and administering drugs.

«Everything that could have been done was done,» Lingenfelser said. «There is a profound sense of sadness here.The infant was born Monday to the dolphin named Castaway.Castaway originally stranded off Vero Beach in November, but was initially deemed healthy enough for release, after convalescing for more than two months at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.But instead of swimming offshore, it returned to the beach three times and then was transported to the Keys.

Subsequently, Castaway was diagnosed to be deaf.Lingenfelser said that Castaway appears to be in good condition, but that veterinarians had drawn blood for testing to verify the mammal's health.

On the NetMarine Mammal Conservancy:

Baby dolphin was born in Las Vegas!

A baby dolphin is making a slash after being born in captivity at an underwater habitat exhibit at The Mirage resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

Officials say the male calf was born Friday at the Dolphin Habitat -- and appears to be doing well so far.

Dolphin births in captivity are rare -- and it'll take several weeks before habitat administrators will know whether the 25-pound calf will survive. They're planning a contest involving local school children to give it a name.

Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal,

Training tourists to become dolphin smart

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, in partnership with WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, the National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program and the Dolphin Ecology Project have launched the programme to promote responsible dolphin watching and try to reduce the impact of tourism on Florida’s wild dolphins, within the popular Florida Keys area.

The acronym SMART stands for:

Stay at least 50yds from dolphins, Move away cautiously if dolphins show signs of disturbance, Always put your engine in neutral when dolphins are near, Refrain from feeding, touching, or swimming-with wild dolphins, and Teach others to be Dolphin SMART!

WDCS Dolphin SMART Programme officer, Courtney Vail said, “The Dolphin SMART programme will hopefully prove an incredible success for everyone working to protect Florida’s unique wild bottlenose dolphins. Responsible dolphin watching is a ‘win-win’ situation which means that both boat operators and tourists can benefit from incredible encounters with wild dolphins in their natural habitat, for years to come!”

Operators certified as Dolphin SMART under the scheme have demonstrated a commitment to the protection of Florida’s wild dolphins and to educating the public about the animals. One of the key messages of the scheme is to remind tourists not to try to ‘swim with’, touch or feed the animals.
Courtney continued, “Interacting too closely with these wild animals can disturb them to the point where they no longer carry out natural behaviours like nursing, breeding and resting, and may even drive the whole group away from critical habitats, like the Florida Keys.”

Tourists visiting the Florida Keys and wanting to see the wild dolphins can be sure the operator they choose is Dolphin SMART by looking for a current year flag or sticker.

The programme also includes vital research into the effects of tour boats on the dolphin residents. Researchers with the Dolphin Ecology Project collect information on individual dolphin identification, population numbers and animal behavior around tour boats. It is hoped that the research will help to assess the success of Dolphin SMART and to ensure that Key West’s wild dolphins continue to thrive.

Wild dolphin watching has become hugely popular with tourists throughout the world where responsible tour operators provide their passengers with an opportunity to learn about dolphins by viewing them in their natural environment. The clear, shallow waters of Key West, Florida, where a handful of the resident bottlenose dolphins frequent a small area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, has become a prime location for dolphin watching in the United States.

Editors’ notes

More information and a current list of Dolphin SMART operators can be found online at or by contacting Celeste Weimer at 305-743-2437 x22.

In the UK, a similar scheme called The Dolphin Space Programme (DSP) was launched in 1995 to protect wild bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth in Scotland. The Dolphin Space Programme is an accreditation scheme for wildlife tour boat operators.

The aim of the DSP is to encourage people who go out to observe dolphins and other marine wildlife to "watch how they watch" and to respect the animal's need for space. Further information can be found at

In New England, WDCS (NA), in partnership with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary offers See A Spout, Watch Out!, a program to educate recreational boaters regarding safe boating practices around large whales. Further information can be found at

Deaf dolphin gives birth

A stranded, deaf dolphin delivered her calf Monday at a marine mammal rehabilitation center, and officials hope a dolphin "chat line" they've installed will teach the baby dolphin to vocalize normally.
The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, named Castaway, has been vocalizing to her unnamed calf, but officials at the Marine Mammal Conservancy say that's not enough for it to learn proper dolphin-speak.

"Castaway's vocalizations are not normal," conservancy president Robert Lingenfelser said. "She speaks in a monotone, similar to the way that people who cannot hear speak."

So officials have electronically linked Castaway's habitat with a lagoon at Dolphins Plus, a research and interactive educational facility a few miles away. Underwater speakers and microphones have been installed at both locations so the calf can communicate with hearing dolphins.

The 42-inch-long, 30-pound calf is swimming well and breathing normally, Lingenfelser said. Officials don't plan to release it, because the first few months of a dolphin's development are a critical time for it to learn self-preservation.

Castaway became stranded in November but was initially deemed healthy enough for release after convalescing at a marine lab in Sarasota. But instead of swimming offshore, she returned to the beach three times before she was taken to the Keys.


Marine Mammal Conservancy:

Men harassing dolphin have been put under arrest!

Two men were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of harassing a dolphin known locally as "Dave" off the Kent coast in southeast England, police said.

Officers arrested the men, aged 25 and 26, at dawn after numerous emergency calls from the public that the animal was being harassed off the coast at Sandgate in Folkstone.

The dolphin has become a local tourist attraction over the past year after making his home in the waters off the Sandgate shore.

Enthusiasts have created a website with pictures and videos of the creature,

But it has also attracted unwelcome attention from jet skiers and sailors, prompting Kent Police's Maritime Unit to warn offenders they face fines and even prison.

Kent Police Inspector Gavin Roy said people should not try to touch the animal or get within 100 metres of it.

"Dolphins are well-loved and friendly towards humans," he said. "They are protected by law and should be treated with respect."

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Another beached dolphin!

A dead dolphin that had apparently beached itself or washed ashore overnight was found on a York River beach near Gloucester Point this morning.Area resident Robert Rooks and a neighbor, Harry Borbe, notified the nearby Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, which called in the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response team from Virginia Beach.

Rooks said he and Borbe were walking their dogs about 8 a.m. when they spotted the bottlenose dolphin. The animal was not on the beach last night, he said. The beach is just north of the Coleman Bridge.The dolphin was an older adult female. Maggie Cook, head of the response team, said it is not unusual to find marine animals stranded on the beaches, especially this time of year as the weather warms. Last year, the team recovered more than 90 marine animals in the Hampton Roads area, she said. Most of those were dead.

The dolphin was estimated to weigh about 300 pounds and the team was on the beach around noon positioning the animal on a litter so it could be hoisted to a truck. Volunteers and neighbors worked with the team to move the dolphin, and a garden tractor was brought in to also help.The aquarium officials planned to perform a necropsy to determine how the animal died.

Inseminated calf number two, sees the day!

A new dolphin calf was born at Dolphin Quest on Sunday - the second in as many weeks.Bailey, an 18 year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, gave birth to a healthy calf shortly before lunchtime. She has three other offspring, Somers, nine, Malabar, six, and Ely, four.Manager Roma Hayward said: "Bailey is an experienced mom with this being her fourth calf.

She was steady throughout the whole experience and came by the trainers for a rub down from time to time. Bailey had it all under control right from the start. Mom and calf are doing great as they take the time to set up strong nursing patterns and form the bond that will lead to a healthy life for the calf."Dolphin Quest artificially inseminated three dolphins about a year ago.

The first calf was born on May 23. A third calf is expected any day now.The west-end facility is now offering two new programs, which will allow guests the rare opportunity to get in the water with the dolphin moms and babies, and observe their natural behaviors.Alternatively, visitors can stay on dry land learn more about the moms and babies in a lagoon side talk and informative presentation. For reservations and to learn more about programs call 234-4464.

Fishermen are now trained to save Gangetic dolphins!

In a bid to protect the highly-endangered Gangetic dolphins in river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, a city-based NGO has initiated a training programme for fishermen on alternative bait to dolphin oil.

The Gangetic dolphin has of late fallen prey to local fishermen who are targetting it for its oil used as fish bait.

Under the training programme, initiated by the Centre for North-East Studies and Police Research (CNES), a team of four fishermen from Dhubri travelled to Patna Science College recently for an orientation course on alternative oil prepared from fish viscera, which they successfully tested on their return.

The CNES is currently working in three districts of Assam - Kamrup, Tinsukia and Dhubri - to develop a community based campaign that includes local groups in the conservation process, provide an alternative to the poaching of the river Dolphins and encourage green tourism, Bhaskar Jyoti Saud of the CNES, Dolphin Programme, said.

The alternative oil, he said, has been developed by eminent scientist and conservationist Prof. P K Sinha and his team at the Patna institute to save the dolphins who are hunted for their blubber, which is used as fish bait in Assam and Bihar.

Saud said the extract of viscera oil of common fish is being extensively used as an alternative to dolphin oil by the fishermen of Bihar in the Ganges.

For the fishermen of Assam who previously used dolphin oil to catch fish, the alternative oil is equally effective, and there is no need to hunt the species.

Saud said one of Prof Sinha's studies on the threat to Gangetic dolphins has highlighted the fact that the species is one of the most graceful and friendly creatures, but is sadly being killed for oil.
As per rules, killing a dolphin or being in possession of any part of it is punishable, Saud said, and hoped that the training imparted to fishermen would motivate them to protect the Gangetic dolphins and preserve the ecological balance.

Dolphin resort looses revenue due to poor communication system

The resort's poor communications system was translating into lost revenue with IT director, Geoff Breene, admitting it was time to "face the music." The resort, where guests can hand feed a pod of wild bottlenose dolphins, had operated a simple telephone key system that could not transfer calls and had no reporting or call center functionality.

It was time to upgrade its communications infrastructure to introduce a telephony system that was feature-rich, future proof, scalable and affordable in the competitive tourism and hospitality industry.

Telstra installed 50 of the latest Avaya IP handsets and an Avaya Call Center suite with an option to extend the network across Tangalooma's entire resort and 300 room complex.

"We now have the latest, state-of-the-art, IP telephone system that has created a future-proof platform and the opportunity to roll-out IP telephony across the entire resort," Breene said.
"It has improved the customer service experience considerably for holiday makers who expect to receive holiday information quickly and efficiently.

"One of the major benefits is that we can allocate calls to the person who has most expertise in the relevant area.

"We're expecting that this will shorten customer time on the phone and help our staff to manage the calls more effectively, not to mention stopping the thousands of missed calls."

For the call center, it means that operators will have absolute control of all incoming calls into the center, how they queue, what the caller hears, who the calls should go to and just about every conceivable call handling option can be chosen to improve customer service.

Telstra business system's managing director, Malcolm Flanagan said the upgrade is part of a broader trend as more resorts move to IP telephony. This transition from TDM to IP phone lines has been going on for some time. The products hitting the market now are pushing VOIP and IP communications to a new level, according to Jeff Snyder, a research vice president with Gartner.

"There was never really a credible story as to why an enterprise needs IP telephony, other than the fact that this is what all the vendors are selling now," Snyder said.

"We're finally seeing business cases developing where new voice technologies are helping customers do more important things than just save money on wiring, long-distance or telecom operations".

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"