Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cardigan Bay, popular for dolphin sightings!

CARDIGAN BAY has been named as the best place in the UK to see bottlenose dolphins because they appear whatever the weather, a study has found.

The seventh annual National Whale and Dolphin Watch reported that Wales had the highest number of bottlenose dolphin sightings at 98, followed by north-east Scotland with 79 sightings.
Edita Magileviciute, the organisation’s sightings offi- cer, said: “The likelihood of seeing cetaceans decreased significantly with poor visibility, rain, fog and high seas.

“However, in New Quay bay, West Wales, we observed bottlenose dolphins almost every day despite rain, fog and gusty winds.

“South-west Cardigan Bay was the most common location to see bottlenose dolphins together with Moray Firth in Scotland.

“The results were comparable to previous years with harbour porpoises being the most widely distributed around the British coasts, ranging from Orkney to Channel Islands, with concentrations mainly on the east coast of Scotland, Wales and south-west of England.”

Sixty manned sites were open to the public but watches were carried out in more than 165 locations around the country.

A total of 339 sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises were reported during the week, comprising eight species.

The bottlenose dolphin was the most frequently seen cetacean with 146 sightings, while harbour porpoises were reported 106 times during the week.

The third most common species was the minke whale with 41 sightings.

The rarest species sighted was a humpback whale in Catfirth, Shetland, the survey said.

10 years old angler win tournament by catching dolphin!

Twenty junior anglers, all younger than 14 years old, targeted dolphin fish July 5 and 6, each team attempting to catch the three heaviest dolphin to win the Islamorada Fishing Club Junior Dolphin Tournament. The Islamorada Lady team, guided by Captain Jeff Everson, took first place with a total of 99.7 pounds of dolphin -- including a 54.5-pound bull caught by 10-year-old William Warner of Jupiter, Fla.

"This may be the largest dolphin weighed in for a dolphin tournament this season," said event organizer Tammie Gurgiolo of the fish young Warner caught on light tackle with a spinning reel. Warner fished with his 6-year-old sister Sarah Warner of Jupiter and three young teammates from Islamorada: 5-year-old Robbie Reckwerdt, 6-year-old Anna Reckwerdt and 4-year-old Carly Stanley.

The tournament’s second-place team, fishing with Captain Scott Stoky on the Nuff Said, weighed in 50.9 pounds of dolphin. The fish were caught by Stoky’s daughter, 4-year-old Kaylee Stoky, and 10-year-old Kyle Everett, both of Key Largo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dolphin fits new prosthetic tail!

A dolphin that survived the loss of her powerful tail flukes has been fitted for another new fin at a marine animal rescue center in Clearwater.

The new prosthetic device will allow the bottlenose dolphin, named Winter, to now swim more freely.

Winter lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. She last received a prosthesis in October, but has since outgrown it.

Winter was a frail, dehydrated 3-month-old when she was discovered back in December 2005 near Cape Canaveral. A fisherman found her tangled in the buoy line of a crab trap. The line had cut off the blood supply to her tail which caused it to slowly fall off.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

PETA wants investgation of dolphin's death at The Mirage hotel in Las Vegas

PETA sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) animal care division urging an investigation into the death of the dolphin Sage at The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Sage was found dead July 5 at the bottom of a pool at The Mirage's Dolphin Habitat exhibit. PETA is calling for a necropsy to be performed on Sage in order to determine if any negligence on the part of The Mirage led to the animal's death.

At least 12 dolphins have reportedly died at The Mirage since 1990 from causes including pancreatitis, pulmonary abscess, respiratory problems, and pneumonia. In order to settle charges that it allegedly violated the federal Animal Welfare Act, The Mirage agreed in 2005 to make changes in the care that it provides to dolphins at the exhibit.

"The Mirage is gambling with dolphins' lives, and the dolphins always lose," says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. "Dolphins and deserts don't mix. In the wild, dolphins swim hundreds of miles. In Las Vegas, their 'habitat' is measured in gallons instead of fathoms."

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- MGM Mirage officials are investigating the death of a dolphin at an aquatic habitat at The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip.

Company spokeswoman Yvette Monet said Monday the female dolphin, named Sage, died Saturday morning and animal care officials were still trying to determine why.

The death was first reported by KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. Monet says the dolphin was born at the attraction in May 1997, and was 11 years old. She confirms it was the 11th dolphin death at Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat since the attraction opened with five dolphins in 1990.

The dolphin habitat offers tours to the paying public, birthday parties, "trainer for a day" and group tours. It can also be rented as a setting for private events.

Las Vegas hotel loses dolphin tenant!

Eyewitness News has learned that a dolphin has died at the Mirage. The cause of death is under investigation.

"The Mirage lost a very special member of our family over the weekend. Sage, one of our female dolphins in the Dolphin Habitat, died Saturday morning. Sage was born in the Mirage Dolphin Habitat on May 21, 1997. Our Animal Care team is currently working to determine a cause of death," said Gordon Absher, company spokesman.

Correcting earlier reports, Absher says 13 dolphins have died at Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat since the attraction opened with five dolphins in 1990. He says that number included five that were stillborn or died shortly after birth.

The dolphin habitat offers tours to the paying public, birthday parties, "trainer for a day" and group tours. It can also be rented as a setting for private events.

Endangered river dolphin sold to feed villagers

A Gangetic dolphin, which got entangled in a fisherman’s net, was sold at a local market in Behrampore on Tuesday. This in complete violation of the Wildlife Protection Act since the Gangetic dolphin is an endangered species.

During fishing in Bhagirathi river, Naresh Haldar found the dolphin in his haul. Instead of releasing it back into the water, Haldar took it to the local Gorabazar market. Locals alleged that the police did not take timely action against Haldar.

“When the policemen arrived at the market, the dolphin was still alive. They did not do anything and even failed to arrest the fisherman. The dolphin may have survived had the police intervened on time,” a local said.

Later, forest department officials also reached the spot. A case has been registered against Haldar, who is absconding. The dolphin’s body has been sent for the postmortem.

Young calf freed from debris

Officials with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources say a young dolphin was rescued Tuesday in the Wilmington River after it was found with a rubber strap wrapped around its head.

No one knows how the dolphin became entangled in the rubber strap, but rescuers wanted to remove it to avoid a life-threatening injury. Members with several groups including DNR, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and Savannah State University, caught the young dolphin near Savannah yesterday and removed the piece of rubber.

The strap was cut off and vets examined the dolphin to make sure it was okay. Before being released back into the Wilmington River, scientists put a tag on the dolphin's fin.

DNR officials say the injured dolphin is an example of the growing problem of pollution in our waterways, adding garbage thrown into the water can seriously harm wildlife.

For more information visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at,
www.georgiawildlife.com or the Debris Program at, www.marinedebris.noaa.gov.

Carcass of Striped dolphin washed ashore in Thailand

The carcass of a female striped dolphin was discovered washed ashore at Baan Dan on Saturday morning – two days after 11 false killer whales beached at Koh Racha.Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) staff retrieved the dead animal and moved it to the PMBC at Cape Panwa after being notified by a villager at about 7 am.

An autopsy performed by PMBC staff yesterday revealed that the dolphin had sustained five broken bones around her neck area, likely caused by some kind of collision, which ultimately led to the animal’s death.PMBC veterinarian Sontaya Manawattana said, “She died two or three days before she was found. She had many injuries from fishing nets…

Her lungs were infected by parasites and she probably had no energy left to swim, so maybe a boat hit her and she died.“The carcass weighs 50 kilograms and is 1.9 meters long. She was three to five years old, which makes her a teenager for a dolphin,” he added.Less than 10 striped dolphins (stenella coeruleoalba) met their fate around Phuket’s coast in 2007. This latest incident marks the first reported death this year, K. Sontaya said.Striped dolphins are a common sight in the sea off Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi.

“If we start to find dead striped dolphins more often, then we would be very worried about this particular species,” said K. Sontaya.The striped dolphin is listed as “Conservation dependent” in the “Lower risk” category of conservation status as ranked by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Littering kills Risso dolphin!

A dolphin which washed ashore in Bulacan about two weeks ago died over the weekend due to plastic products she ate near Bulacan shores.The said dolphin - a female Risso's dolphin (grampus griseus) - was found by a fisherman in Bulakan town trapped among mangrove rots of the Matilakin village on June 20.

It was brought to the Ocean Adventure Park (OAP) in Subic Bay Freeport for treatment but on Saturday or nine days after being brought to the OAP.Dr. Lemuel Aragones - an OAP consultant and an associate professor at the University of the Philippines' Institute of the Environmental Science and Meteorology who had named the Risso's dolphin "Rissa" - said she died over the weekend despite treatment at an intensive care unit designed for her rehabilitation.He said that the cause of death was due to occlusion (obstruction or closure of a passageway) caused by plastic products in the dolphin's stomach.

Aragones said that this disabled the dolphin from taking in food that caused weakness and eventual secondary complications.He said that after Rissa died, they conducted a necropsy and found plastics in her stomach.Aragones said that eating plastic caused the dolphin to lose strength and that it swam on the shallow area of the Bulacan Bay to breathe.

Aragones also said that there was a possibility that the dolphin was searching for food and ate what was available in the area which turned out to be plastic products which moves like a jelly fish or squid underwater.Due to Rissa's eventual death, Aragones called on local government units to strictly implement solid waste management and clean up local shorelines to save marine life.

Little girl starts talking and walking following dolphin therapy

Four-year-old Simay was facing difficulties both walking and speaking due to a lack of oxygen delivered to her brain during her birth. She has now started walking after nine days of dolphin therapy.

Dolphins give life

Four-year-old Simay Aygün, who has trouble both speaking and walking due to a lack of oxygen transferred to her brain during birth, has started walking after nine-days of dolphin therapy. Three dolphins, three physiotherapists and three trainers work with the dolphins in a pool set, located in the front of a hotel.

After nine days of therapy sessions, little Simay has already begun to start walking and speaking. Simay's father stated that previously they had tried many different forms of therapy, throughout Turkey, but were unable to see any response: "my daughter could hardly speak and walk. Her perception was 1.5 years behind that of her peers.

As we were unable to see any results from other forms of therapy, we decided to give dolphin therapy a try. We started nine days ago and we have witnessed development. My daughter has started to both walk and talk. We will continue the therapy; I believe we will see a full recovery soon."

Australia: Local dolphins beaching themselves face mercury poisoning

Australian scientists have found that mercury poisoning could be leading local dolphins to beach themselves. Ross Thompson and Alissa Monk at Monash University in Melbourne suggest that the mercury's neurological effects would include confusion and disorientation, causing the dolphins to strand themselves on the shore.

While dolphins are known to accumulate mercury through the fish they eat, Thompson's study is the first to compare mercury levels in beached dolphins with live animals from the same population. Thompson sampled dolphins living in the shallow, enclosed waters of Port Phillip Bay and the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, Australia, finding that the beached dolphins averaged 3.45 milligrams of mercury per kilogram of body weight, over twice that of the live animals.

'The mercury levels we found in the dead dolphins were high enough to be causing quite severe neurological effects,' Thompson told Chemistry World. 'Even the levels in the apparently healthy population would be expected to cause immune deficits, at the very least,' he adds.

"The mercury levels we found in the dead dolphins were high enough to be causing quite severe neurological effects"- Ross Thompson The findings confirm earlier European studies on harbour porpoise populations, says marine ecotoxicology expert Krishna Das of Liege University in Belgium. But Das adds that it is very difficult to assess the effects of a single pollutant. 'Mercury could be a contributing factor to the dolphin deaths - but it is never acting alone as the animals have high levels of a lot of other pollutants,' she says.

Mining connection

Historical gold mining, which up until the 1930s used mercury in gold extraction, is the likely main source of the heavy metal in the waters, says Thompson. The mercury has gradually washed down the Yarra and other rivers, and accumulated in the sediments of the bay. Current dredging work could further increase mercury levels in the food chain, he adds. The mercury levels he measured were already higher than those found in dolphins in other populations in polluted waters around the world, from the Mediterranean to costal India.

As well as following the changing mercury levels as dredging continues, Thompson plans to examine how today's mercury levels compare with those of the past. 'We will test mercury levels in the teeth of museum specimens, which include dolphins from the late 19th century to the very recent, to see how mercury accumulation has changed over time,' he says.

As well as dolphins, Port Phillip Bay is also home to a colony of Fairy Penguins, but their mercury accumulation wasn't so high, probably because they feed lower in the food chain, and don't live as long. 'The penguins seem to be hit by zinc instead - the other main pollutant - but that's another story,' says Thompson.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Baby dolphin rescued by Florida team

A picture was worth a young dolphin's life.

Researchers at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce were taking pictures for their Indian River Lagoon dolphin identification program when they noticed a calf they know as C1Bitt with a belt from an engine wrapped around it.

"We removed the belt before any serious medical complications arose," said Steve McCulloch, program manager of the marine mammal-stranding program at Harbor Branch. "It's more than likely it would have died a very slow and agonizing death over a long period of time, a very long period of time."

Last week, the baby and its mother, who may be pregnant again, were swimming along just fine.
"It's a pretty rewarding experience, what we're doing," McCulloch said.

Harbor Branch, now part of Florida Atlantic University, has a database of about 1,000 lagoon dolphins. The creatures tell researchers much about the health of the environment and how it is changing, he said.

McCulloch said four dolphins have been saved from entanglements and 12 others have been rescued and released in the area in the past 10 years.

The photo ID team first saw the young dolphin in distress on June 6 while it was swimming with its mother. The team attempted to stay with the pair, but they slipped away.

The mature female was first documented in 2001 and named Bitt after the natural nicks on her dorsal fin, and the calf was born about 2005.

They were spotted again on June 19 and the rescue was mounted.

Harbor Branch, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Marine Fisheries Service and Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute all sent personnel.

After more than 12 hours, the teams could not get the dolphins away from eight other dolphins swimming with them as they tried to maneuver the mother and baby into a safe, shallow area suitable for using a net. Just as they were about to give up and try again on the weekend, rescuers finally herded the pair onto a shallow sandbar.

Harbor Branch veterinarian Dr. Juli Goldstein examined the calf as his mother stayed close to the operation.

"Everybody was amazed to see the communication that takes place between the mother and baby," McCulloch said. "They were whistling back and forth in a comforting tone." It was as if the dolphins knew they were being helped, he said.

The rescue effort, estimated to cost $5,000, was funded entirely from the sale of Protect Wild Dolphins specialty license plates, according to Harbor Branch. The baby was tagged with a bright red marker to help with additional studies.

The population of the Irrawaddy dolphin takes a plunge!

The most recent population survey of Cambodia’s Irrawaddy dolphins shows the dwindling species – its youngest generation in particular – remains imperiled. After almost 140 hours of dolphin-spotting on the Mekong River from Kratie to the Lao border, researchers estimate 71 dolphins survive, although the population could range from 66 to 86, according to the global conservation group WWF.

The survey – carried out during the dry months of April and May 2007, when the river level drops and the dolphins are concentrated in nine deep pools – counted markedly fewer specimens than a 2005 study that estimated a population of 108 to 146. Both high mortality and a new, more accurate survey methodology could account for the drop-off, according to Richard Zanre, WWF’s Freshwater Conservation Program Manager.

“The good news is adult mortality has reduced over the last five or six years,” Zanre said. He credited government and NGO efforts to curb the use of gill nets in the core habitat, including an official ban instituted last year and alternative livelihood programs for fishermen in the area. The nets are believed to have snared and drowned a significant number of the nearly 80 dolphins found dead in the past five years.“But the big concern is the calf mortality remaining high,” Zanre added. “We are also seeing what seems to be a drop in the birth rate.”

The exact cause remains a troubling unknown. Results from autopsies conducted on the tissue of dead calves have recently returned from laboratories in Canada and the US. They await analysis.Additionally, tests will be run on water samples to learn whether sewage, agricultural or industrial run-off could be hindering reproduction.

Another threat looms upstream, where the Lao government recently approved construction of a hydroelectric dam above the Khone Falls on the Laos-Cambodia border, Zanre said.Cambodia’s Irrawaddy dolphins, which range from Kratie to Southern Laos, are one of only three populations still in existence. The others survive in Myanmar and Indonesia. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has listed Cambodia’s dolphins as Critically Endangered since 2004.

Risso dolphin stuck in Glasgow river

A dolphin that normally frequents the deep waters of the Atlantic has been spotted swimming in the shallow River Clyde in the centre of Glasgow.

The 10ft Risso's dolphin appears to be injured, with a gash above one eye, and has spent the past two days in polluted waters in the city centre.A marine mammal rescue group is hoping to usher it downstream and back out to sea, although an attempt last night to return it to deep water proved unsuccessful.

It was visible today just downstream from the rush hour traffic on the Kingston Bridge.
At one point yesterday it had a large empty crisp bag stuck on its fin.The unusual sight has attracted tourists and office workers to the river bank, but experts said the dolphin appeared "sluggish" and was moving slowly.

A team from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue group, helped by Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, is planning to assess its condition before making another attempt to guide it to safety.

Nick Duthie, one of the volunteers, "Certainly, it's in a pretty compromised body state at the moment.

"It's very thin and it does have a number of cuts and grazes on it so we are quite concerned for its health."

Risso's dolphins normally feed on deep water squid and are rarely seen in shallow waters.
The dolphin was first spotted near the Faslane Naval Base further down the Clyde on Saturday before appearing close to the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"