Friday, August 24, 2007

Injured Bottlenose dolphin ends up on Malibu Beach...then dies

A bottlenose dolphin found critically injured on a Malibu beach died Saturday night while en route in a van to a marine animal care facility.The California Highway Patrol was called to escort the dolphin from Zuma Beach to the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, a 51-mile drive. The dolphin was suffering from gashes probably caused by a boat propeller.

Lifeguards trained in marine animal rescue found the dolphin shortly after 5:30 p.m. along the surf line. They retrieved it using a "dolphin swing" and rushed it from the beach in a truck, said Capt. Angus Alexander of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.The animal was placed atop a sponge blanket and was constantly doused with water while awaiting transport to a van, Alexander said.

Finding a dolphin injured by a boat propeller is uncommon at Zuma Beach, Alexander said. Marine animal rescues more commonly involve birds caught in fishing nets or sea lions suffering convulsions from algae poisoning.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friendly dolphin injured by boat propeller

Marine experts fear the dolphin that lives off the coast near Folkestone could have been fatally injured after being struck by the propeller of a boat.The dolphin, which has become a tourist attraction after making the Kent coast its home for more than a year, suffered deep cuts to the dorsal fin after being struck by the boat.

Experts fear the mammal, known as Dave but now confirmed as a female, could die if the wounds become infected.The injuries themselves are not fatal - but a dolphin who lived off the north coast of England died last year after suffering similar injuries. Scientists later established the cause of that death as infections contracted after wounding.Jason Carter, of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, has been warning people for months not to approach the dolphin to avoid it becoming humanised.

He said: “Unfortunately as people are continuing to Interact with the animal it is going to be open to more injuries. Injuries such as this are open to become infected by people touching them.”Trevor Weeks of the rescue unit has been monitoring the dolphin since it came into British waters.He said: "We classify Dave as a 'solitary social dolphin' as it is away from the pod."

When this happens dolphins will start to crave attention and company and this is what we are seeing with Dave. The mammal becomes attached to humans and will behave boisterously – and is not aware of its own strength."

And to further create problems it will swim towards any boat as it loves the attention. Inexperienced people will slam on the brakes when they see the dolphin approaching and it will then plough into the vessel."It is not possible to say what actually caused Dave's injuries - but this is a possible scenario."

Kent Police has pledged to arrest anyone harassing or harming the dolphin, but last weekend adults and children were still trying to swim with or hold on to the dorsal fin of Dave.

Dolphin saved from death but lost an eye in the process

The efforts of two federal fisheries officers, an RCMP officer and a passerby saved a dolphin from certain death Friday in a muddy rescue operation near Digby.

Fisheries officers Howard Blinn and Kevin Juteau and RCMP Const. Mike O’Callahan were conducting joint fishery patrols Friday afternoon when a call came in that some minke whales had beached themselves in Digby.

When the officers arrived at the Annapolis Basin location, they discovered the animals were in fact white-sided dolphins.

One was in a fairly deep tidal pool and managed to swim to freedom when the tide returned.
"It took us awhile to find the other one, which was beached," Mr. Blinn said.

The condition of that little dolphin was heartbreaking, he said.

The drying body of the two-metre mammal heaved as it continued to draw breath on a section of mud flats behind a tavern in Conway, on the outskirts of Digby.

A couple of seagulls had perched atop the dolphin and pecked mercilessly at its eye, which was streaming blood.

Officers waved off the birds but it was too late to save the eye.

A passerby, Edwin Dunkerley, saw what was happening and went to help the officers.

The four men went to work wetting down the dolphin and searching for a makeshift stretcher. Someone found a partial sheet of plasticized cardboard.

"We put the dolphin on there and we dragged it to the channel," said Mr. Blinn.

Although they only had to move the dolphin about 70 metres, it took the men a good half-hour as they sank to their knees while dragging the dolphin, which probably weighed 135 kilograms, said Mr. Blinn.

"We finally got it in the channel and the tide was coming up and he started to respond a bit."
They continued to cover the dolphin with water and mud.

"When the tide came in, we saw him take off," said Mr. Blinn.

The one-eyed dolphin headed for deep water and didn’t return.

"They found one dead the next day, Saturday morning," Mr. Blinn said. "Somebody called in but it wasn’t (the same) one," he said.

That dolphin had two good eyes.

Dead dolphin found in Tokyo River

A dolphin, believed to be the same one spotted earlier this month in the Arakawa river in Tokyo, was found dead Monday in an adjoining river in Kita Ward, Tokyo, local officials said.

Alerted by a local resident that a dolphin was floating on the surface of the Shinkashigawa river, the Tokyo metropolitan government sent a patrol vessel and found the animal at 10:10 a.m. in the Sumidagawa river, which merges with the lower part of the Shinkashigawa river.

The dolphin was then pulled out of water, the officials said, adding that it was already dead.
Earlier this month, a pacific white-sided dolphin was often spotted in the Arakawa and nearby rivers in Tokyo.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Facts about dolphins

1. Dolphins have to be conscious to breath. This means that they cannot go into a full deep sleep, because then they would suffocate. Dolphins have "solved" that by letting one half of their brain sleep at a time.

2. On average an adult dolphin will eat 4-9% of its body weight in fish, so a 250 kg (550 lb) dolphin will eat 10-22.5 kg (22-50 lb) fish per day.

3. The average lifespan of a dolphin is approximately twenty years.

4. There are 67 total species of dolphins 32 of them oceani,c with River dolphins, Sperm whales, Beaked whales, Beluga, Narwhal and Porpoises rounding out the other 35 species.

5. Porpoises are often confused with dolphins, but while dolphins have rounded interlocking teeth, porpoise teeth are squared.

6. Dolphins have an acute sense of hearing and eyesight.

7. Dolphins live in groups called pods.

8. A newborn baby dolphin will surface from the water to take its first breath.

9. The orca or killer whale is the largest species of dolphins.

10. Dolphins are warm blooded animals.

Prosthetic tail for dolphin patient

Thanks to high-tech materials and innovation, prosthetic limbs enable amputees to walk, run, and even swim. But one world-renowned prosthetist has a new patient that has presented him with quite a challenge. On The Early Show, resident veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner reported on Kevin Carroll's latest prosthetic patient: a dolphin.

Carroll is one of the world's leading prosthetists. Besides his work with people, he has designed prosthetics for dogs, an ostrich, and even a duck. And now he is working on Winter. Winter, an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, is a playful two-year-old. She was found off the coast of Florida, caught in a crab trap. When she arrived at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, CMA CEO David Yates said her condition was critical.

"The first few days, we really didn’t think she'd live at all. And what happened is we had a 24-hour around-the-clock care by our veterinary staff, our animal care staff, (and) our volunteers that literally watched her every second of the day," Yates said. Winter survived, but she lost her tail and was left with merely a stump. Without a tail, she can neither swim as fast nor jump as high as a normal dolphin. Yates said her condition put her in a unique situation.

"She's had to adapt to how to swim without a tail, which no dolphin has ever done in captivity. We didn't know if she could do that," he said. Winter's swimming style changed from up and down to side to side. Veterinarians were concerned that this unusual swimming form might alter the long-term health of her spine. The vets, therefore, began to explore designing a prosthetic tail for Winter. Carroll contacted Winter's caretakers after he got word of the need for a prosthetic tail, and he offered his services.

However, Carroll didn't realize how large a project it would be. "I came straight down, saw Winter (and) felt really sorry for her. And I came in and I said, 'OK, we'll fit her little tail. Not a big deal.' Little did I know it was going to take a year and a half to do," Carroll said. Designing a prosthetic for a dolphin was a trickier process than Carroll anticipated. He said, "With a person, when we fit a socket on them, we have one long, solid bone. We don't have to have the socket moving in every direction. With a dolphin, it needs to move along with her full spine."

Casts are used to monitor Winter's growth and body shape. The casts are also able to provide the mold for Winter's new prosthetic. Carroll noted that it is important for Winter to be able to adapt to having a new tail. "We can't just put a prosthetic on and walk out the door. We have to slowly introduce the prosthetic," he said.

Teaching Winter how to use the prosthetic device also presents a challenge. Carroll will have to aide her in learning how to once again swim up and down like a typical dolphin. The last step is to attach the actual tail. That's still a few months away, but Winter's caretaking team is incredibly excited to get her back to full strength. "It's going to be powerful seeing her coming out of the water with that tail," Carroll said. "I know she's going to do it. We're really looking forward to that."

Baby dolphin's death raises environmental concerns

A BABY dolphin has been found dead washed up on the Cumbrian coast, prompting concerns from conservation experts.Andy McCormack, general manager of The Brickyard in Carlisle, spotted the beached mammal about a mile south of Allonby and took this pictures of it on his mobile phone.

The creature was only a baby and was smaller than Mr McCormack’s pet dog Ralph, who he was out walking with earlier this week.The discovery is a stark reminder of the fate that befell Marra the Maryport dolphin, who captured the county’s hearts when she became trapped in the town’s harbour and had to be rescued. Sadly, she eventually died last December.

Mark Simmonds, director of science with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, in Wiltshire, explained why the west Cumbrian coast was proving so popular with dolphin visitors.He said the two main UK dolphin populations were in the Moray Firth, Scotland, and Cardigan Bay, Wales, and said it was likely some of the population could have made their way into Cumbrian waters quite easily from their natural habitat.

He said: “The Cumbrian coastline is between the dolphin populations so there is probably some transition going on. What we became aware of when we were out helping with the Marra situation was that there were more bottle nose dolphins out in the Solway Firth.“There are some dolphins living along the Solway coastline but they’ve never been studied. It seems to be an important area and it’s calling out for people to do more work and find out about it.”He advised people to be extremely careful if they found single dolphins swimming in the water for fear of them becoming too tame and then not being able to fend for themselves in the wild.

He added: “It’s really important to never get into the water with a solitary dolphin and don’t drive a boat towards them.“Not only will you hurt them but you will also be breaking the law because dolphins are a very endangered species.”St Bees has been named as the one of the 12 most likely UK places to spot bottle nose dolphins in the latest issue of the BBC Wildlife magazine. If anyone spots a dolphin in distress they can call British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546, 24 hours a day.

Yangtze River dolphin likely faced extinction!

The Yangtze River dolphin is now almost certainly extinct, making it the first dolphin that humans drove to extinction, scientists have now concluded after an intense search for the endangered species.

China's rapid industrialisation has likely made the baiji extinct - a species of fresh water dolphin that had been on Earth for over 20 million years. The loss also represents the first global extinction of megafauna—any creature larger than about 200 pounds (100 kilograms)—for more than 50 years, since the disappearance of the Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis).The Yangtze River dolphin or baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) of China has long been recognized as one of the world's most rare and threatened mammal species.

"It's a relic species, more than 20 million years old, that persisted through the most amazing kinds of changes in the planet," said marine biologist Barbara Taylor at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service. "It's been here longer than the Andes Mountains have been on Earth."In 1999, the surviving baiji population was estimated to be as low as just 13 dolphins, compared to 400 known baiji in 1981.

The last confirmed glimpse of a baiji was documented by a photo taken in 2002, although unverified sightings were reported as recently as 2006.An international team of scientists conducted an intense six-week search for the dolphin in two research vessels during November and December 2006, covering the entire known range of the baiji in the 1,037-mile (1,669-kilometer) main channel of the Yangtze River. The researchers and their instruments failed to see or hear any evidence that the dolphin survives.

"It was a surprise to everyone on the expedition that we didn't have any sightings at all, that the extinction just happened so quickly," Taylor recalled.This would make the baiji the first cetacean—that is, dolphin, porpoise or whale—to go extinct because of humans.The species was probably driven to extinction by harmful fishing practices that were not even devised to harm the dolphins, such as the use of gill nets, rolling hooks or electrical stunning.

The findings are detailed Aug. 7 in the journal Biology Letters."In the past, you had this out-of-control whaling that still didn't result in any extinctions, but these accidental deaths, which are much less visible to people, are much more insidious," Taylor said.Even if any baiji exist that scientists did not find, the continued deterioration of the Yangtze region's ecosystem—home to roughly 10 percent of the world's human population—means the species has no hope of even short-term survival as a viable population, the researchers added.

"To help save the endangered Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides asiaeorientalis) that also live in the river, we'll likely have to keep them in lake preserves or raise them in captivity, because the situation in that river doesn't look like it can be controlled at this point," Taylor explained.With the loss of the Yangtze River dolphin, the world's most critically endangered cetacean species now is the vaquita or Gulf of California porpoise (Phocoena sinus), of which 250 survive.

The vaquita and other coastal dolphins around the world now face the same peril that claimed the baiji—accidental deaths from fishing."We have to find a way to let small-time fishermen put food on their tables that doesn't involve putting gill nets in the water that decimate these species," Taylor said. "Unless we figure out a way to deal with this problem, the baiji may be the first in quite a long line of animals to face extinction

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dolphin Dave, now considered to be a risk to people and dolphins

A dolphin that has been swimming off the Kent coast for the past year has become so humanised that he now poses a danger to people, police have said.

Police have been told of hundreds of people approaching the dolphin, named Dave, despite advice to avoid him.

In one case, a man was seen trying to put his child on Dave's back for a dolphin ride, a spokesman said.

He said the child would have been "at considerable risk" if Dave had headed for deeper water.
'Risk of injury'

Kent Police said there have been reports that Dave, who lives in the Channel off Sandgate, has even stopped people from leaving the water.

The spokesman said: "In similar cases, dolphins like Dave start to display their dominance and that is when there is a likelihood of injury to both the dolphin and humans."

The force has also received reports of small craft getting close to Dave because his fear has diminished, which increases the chance of the dolphin being struck by a boat or a propeller.

Marine patrols are taking place over the next few days and police said action will be taken against anyone approaching the dolphin.

Dolphin Therapy creates magic!

Sometimes life throws its hard knocks at you. You lose balance and fall. It is very interesting how you can actually look for help and find solace in animals!We have often heard of the dog as man's best friend, helping the blind, acting as an able guide and companion to the elderly. Now you should hear about dolphins.

It is very interesting to learn about the dolphin therapy, which is achieved when humans and dolphins swim together in water, touching, interacting and playing.This is most useful for children who are mentally, emotionally, and physically impaired. It can also help cancer patients and people with spinal injury.

How the therapy works is still under investigation. However, it is said that combining interaction with this gentle and communicative animal plus the immersion in warm water assist greatly in creating a positive response from the patient. It is mostly the dolphin's innate gentleness and a mysterious power that triggers the healing process in humans.Apparently, dolphins are able to give unconditional love and compassion. This increases self-confidence and brings joy and motivation to the patient, who starts to respond, stimulating the immune system and leading to healing.

I heard it first hand from a friend who went to such a centre and swam with the dolphins. She left feeling very relaxed and peaceful. The pictures she shared with me were quite impressive too.
Often, I take moments watching fish swimming from one side of the tank to the other in total peace. Watching fish swim has a calming effect on humans. With the raising levels of stress and noise in the world, this therapy assists to calm the mind and spirit and help one go back to face realities of life.

Now we can actually swim with the fish (in this case a dolphin) and get an even better calming and healing effect. And while these centres we are told of are in far places like Florida, Bahamas, Hawaii and Australia, a revelation another friend who lives in Dar-es-Salam shared confirmed that we are not so far from a natural centre.

He said that recently, he and his family took a boat ride off the shores of Zanzibar and went after groups of dolphins around the island. Once dolphins spotted them, they all jumped from the boat in the water and swam near them. These dolphins are of course, not as domesticated as the ones in aquariums and healing centres, nonetheless it is even a better way to see how these sea mammals are so genuinely loving and can give unconditional love to the swimmers even though they are not given a reward, fish, from trainers.

I have always wondered why it is difficult for us to look at nature and try to rebuild some of the qualities and attributes that we were initially born with, but have lost in the meantime.

Deaf dolphin has been adopted!

A deaf Atlantic bottlenose dolphin has found a new home in a natural seawater lagoon that is also a research and education facility.

Visitors can pay to swim with the animals at Dolphins Plus lagoon, the new home of Castaway.
The dolphin was found stranded off Vero Beach in November and was later deemed healthy enough for release. But instead of swimming offshore, Castaway returned to the beach three times. The dolphin was then transported to the Keys and diagnosed to be deaf.

Castaway gave birth to a calf in June, but the baby died three days later. An animal necropsy showed no apparent cause of death.

Because the National Marine Fisheries Service considers Castaway to be rehabilitated, the agency said she either had to be released or transferred to a facility that displays, not rehabilitates, dolphins.

Friendship blooming between dolphin and man

A dolphin that has been hanging around the Mahia boat ramp over winter is forming a great friendship with long-time resident Bill Shortt, who is teaching it to play ball.

The bottlenose dolphin came into the Mokatahi area at Mahia Beach at Easter. Since then it has been following Mr Shortt in his dinghy most mornings when he goes to check on his crayfish pots.
"It scared me at first, as it liked bumping into my dinghy and sending it sideways. On a number of occasions I got soaking wet when it jumped out of the water, which is not to pleasant on a cold winter’s morning," he said.

But over time he realised the beautiful creature was just trying to play.

"He chatters away to me and, believe it or not, he actually grins — he pops his head out of the water and actually smiles."

Residents have named the dolphin Moko after the the large Mokatahi headland that it swims below.

Mr Shortt believes Moko is a male, about two metres long, and he estimates that he weighs about 150kg — "He is a very healthy specimen."

Fascinated by his new boating companion, Mr Shortt found himself when not in his boat or working, spending a lot of time observing the creature’s antics from the windows of his home.
He did some research and read that dolphins were reasonably easy to train. When not out in his boat, He bought his buddy a red ball and threw it several times in front of the boat where Moko was swimmimg.

At first Moko ignored the ball but after a dozen or so shots it started to perform, throwing the ball metres into the air and shovelling it along the water at top speed.

"The dolphin actually threw the ball into the dinghy with one shot," he said.

"I live at Mahia Beach, so get a bird’s-eye view of its antics around a marker buoy," he said.
"It has been fascinating and in the 50-odd years I have been around Mahia Peninsula I have seen some remarkable actions in the sea . . . but nothing like this," he said.

"He has actually followed boats right to the shoreline," Mr Shortt said.

He had patted his friend, but did not fancy swimming with him. Getting splashed by him in winter was enough, he said.

But despite his joy in playing with Moko and observing him, Mr Shortt is fearful for the creature’s survival.

"My biggest fear is he will get tangled up in a net.

"This is going to happen — sooner or later he will get caught up in a net."

Moko has not been seen for the past three days.

Mr Shortt hopes he has headed off to find a mate, rather than getting tangled up with something more ominous.

His fears are shared by Department of Conservation staff, who are urging sightseers to keep their distance and treat the mammal with respect.

The dolphin is of the same type as the legendary Opo, which mingled with swimmers at Opononi in Northland during the summer of 1955-56.

It sought out human contact and would even let children ride on its back.

New Zealand mourned when Opo died in March 1956, possibly as the result of a gelignite blast in the water.

DoC programme manager Jamie Quirk said the Mahia dolphin presented a great opportunity for residents and visitors to see a marine mammal in the wild, but people had to behave responsibly around it — giving it a broad berth and keeping boat speeds well down in the area.

He believes Mahia’s winter visitor is a female.

Dolphin-safe labels vs. tighter regulations

After a decade in court, the law for preserving the “Dolphin-Safe” tuna label on cans has been upheld by virtue of a passing appeal deadline.

The “Dolphin Safe” label on tuna cans was originally established and implemented to give consumers a choice of tuna that was caught without netting dolphins in the eastern Pacific.
Standards for this fishing practice were blurred during the Clinton administration as a part of their promotion for “free trade.”

The administration proposed regulations that would have held Mexico to lesser standards. Scientific evidence from conservation groups showed that the ships catching tuna that would have been labeled “dolphin safe” were killing dolphins with destructive netting techniques.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco sided with science over politics however, and got behind that evidence. The government decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court and the case stood as law and set the precedent that free trade could not come at the expense of wildlife so it was never invoked.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Virginia volunteers are ready to tackle dolphin count

Three people sat quietly under beach umbrellas, binoculars pressed to their faces. They searched the coastline for even the slightest glimpse of a dorsal fin.

"We've got dolphins approaching from the north. Not in our area yet," said Marian Childress, 65.
"Looks like a big group," replied her husband, Gentry Childress, 63.

Two dolphins became three, then four. Marian Childress recorded the sighting on a sheet of paper.
All along the Virginia coast Saturday, staff members and volunteers with the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team were doing the same as part of the team's 15th annual dolphin count.
Marian Childress scans the water off 88th Street in Virginia Beach on Saturday during the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team’s dolphin count.

About 20 posts were set up along beaches.

The count gives researchers an idea of how many dolphins are along the coast and where they are distributed.

"You sort of get a bit of a snapshot of what the coast looks like in terms of dolphin activity," said Mark Swingle, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's director of research and conservation.

About 40 people monitored roughly 20 observation posts along beaches of the lower Chesapeake Bay and southern Virginia coastline.

An added 35 or so observers were spread among several boats, mainly along the Eastern Shore.
They logged dolphin activity in five-minute intervals, also noting how many neonates, or newborns, they saw.

John Spillane, left, and Anne Groth watch for dolphins near 39th Street at the Virginia Beach oceanfront.

The Childresses and fellow Virginia Beach resident Gib Hooker were stationed on the beach just off 88th Street near Fort Story.

The dolphin counters had no time to relax or soak up the rays.

The area around Cape Henry is typically the busiest of the observation posts.

Groups of as many as eight bottlenose dolphins swam by. The Childresses and Hooker, 64, spotted about 50 dolphins in the first hour alone.

"Scientists on the East Coast who study dolphins call this 'Dolphin Disneyland,' "Marian Childress said.

Hattie Brown Garrow, (757) 222-5116,

Dolphin's carcass was decapitated!

It's been a sad week for our marine friends.

Someone has decapitated a dolphin carcass at Ballina.

And a distressed, though still living, fur seal pup has washed up near Byron Bay.

The carcass of the bottlenose dolphin washed up on Patchs Beach south of Ballina.

By the time Christine Fury, from Southern Cross University, arrived to collect it for research, its head had been removed.

Although the dolphin was reported to have died before it washed up on the beach, experts and the National Parks and Wildlife Service thought it important a necropsy be performed to identify the animals cause of death, National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Liz Dargin said.

Aquarium loses dolphin!

Jump, the 30-year-old Pacific white-sided dolphin at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, his died, apparently of old age.

Officials at aquarium said the 30-year-old mammal -- one of the oldest dolphins living in an aquarium in North America -- died Monday, The Chicago Sun-Times said Wednesday.
"We are very saddened by the loss of Jump," said Ken Ramirez, aquarium vice president of animal collections and training.

Only 18 other members of Jump's species are living in North American aquariums.
A Shedd Aquarium spokesman said Jump had been a major attraction since being given to the aquarium by San Antonio's SeaWorld for breeding.

Jump had fathered calves at other aquariums, but none of his mates at the Shedd Aquarium -- the largest indoor aquarium in the world -- ever became pregnant, the newspaper said.

Stranded dolphins rescued by lifeguards does not make it!

Lifeguards attempted to rescue a stranded dolphin Friday at Robert Moses State Park before the animal eventually died, officials reported.The 6-1/2 foot, 250-pound Striped male dolphin was first spotted by swimmers Friday afternoon when it beached itself at Field 5.Shortly after lifeguards got the animal back into the water, it stranded once more at Field 3. At that point, park officials alerted the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

Rob DiGiovanni, the foundation director, said the animal died before his staff arrived."Had it survived, we could have brought it back and tried to rehabilitate it," he said. "At this point we'll take it back and try to figure out what was wrong."DiGiovanni said it's not uncommon for Stripped dolphins to strand this time of year, but his staff has noticed a slight upswing in strandings recently. He said he hopes this latest incident might shed light on the problem.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"