Archive for mei 2012

Expert Links Dolphin Deaths to Sonar Testing

Did offshore oil exploration play a role in the recent deaths of nearly 900 dolphins off the northern Peruvian coast? Peru’s fisheries minister said last week that government scientists had ruled that out as a possibility and that the dolphins probably died of natural causes. But a marine veterinarian and conservationist who examined many of the corpses contends they were probably harmed by sound waves from seismic tests used to locate oil deposits. dolphin

As we reported earlier this month, the dolphin deaths, which overlapped with a large die-off of seabirds, have been the focus of intense speculation in Peru and around the world.

The marine veterinarian, Carlos Yaipen-Llanos, who is president of the conservation group Orca Peru, said in an interview that necropsies that he and his colleagues performed on three separate expeditions indicated that the dolphins examined were bleeding in their middle ears and had suffered fractures there. They also had gas in their solid internal organs and severe acute pulmonary emphysema, symptoms consistent with death from decompression sickness — that is, the bends, he said.

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South Korean Captive Dolphins have a Shot at Freedom

In First-of-its-Kind Ruling, Judge Orders Release of Five Captive Dolphins

South Korea could be well on it’s way to becoming a dolphin-friendly nation. Like many other countries, it has captive facilities where dolphins are made to perform degrading tricks and live in unbearably small tanks. But a recent ruling on the case of five illegally captured bottlenose dolphins is making waves in the country’s animal rights, as well as animal industry, circles.Captive

Pacific Land, a theme park on the south coast of Jeju Island, is an abysmal prison for it’s captive dolphins — 11 of which were illegally purchased from local fishermen between 2009 and 2010, according to local activists. Of these, five remain alive and on perpetual display in a tank that is smaller than an Olympic-sized swimming pool. When they are not performing, they are forced to live in an underground holding pool, meaning that these dolphins have been living for years without ever seeing natural daylight.

The good news is that last month the president and a director of the park, known only by their last names Heo and Koh, were found guilty of buying the illegally caught dolphins. The duo have been sentenced to eight months in prison, fined US $8,760 and – most importantly – ordered to release the five surviving dolphins back to their natural habitat.

The ruling is the first of its kind in South Korea, which had no animal welfare laws until 1991. It comes on the heels of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon’s order for the release and rehabilitation of a male dolphin at Seoul Grand Park, a major theme park in Korea’s capital city. The dolphin, named Jedoli, is one of the 11 Pacific Land had bought from fishermen.

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Confusion Over Swiss Captive Dolphin Deaths

Previous veterinary reports regarding the cause of death of two dolphins at a Swiss dolphinarium last November have been thrown in to doubt following the leak of a new report which suggests the animals died from the effects of a heroin substitue.

The original evaluation by the Institute for Veterinarian Pathology revealed that the use of antibiotics on two dolphins (“Chelmers” and “Shadow”) at the Connyland dolphinarium, Switzerland last November caused brain damage which then led to their deaths.

An investigation into procedures followed by the vets responsible for the two dolphins then began. However, the leaked report now suggests that the dolphins were probably killed by a heroin substitute placed in the water at a zoo after it hosted a weekend rave. If this were the case then the drug may well have interfered with the dolphin’s natural instincts regarding when to surfaces to breathe.

The dolphinarium had previously accused animal activists of poisoning the dolphins.

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White Orca on the loose in Russia

It appears Captain Ahab can finally rest easy. Scientists in Russia, possibly after reading Melville’s classic, have taken up the mantle of searching for an all-white adult killer whale named Iceberg.

white-orcaThe animal was initially spotted by researchers in 2010 when they saw the orca’s six foot tall dorsal fin break the surface of the water of the North Pacific.

“This is the first time we have ever seen an all-white, mature male orca,” said Erich Hoyt, co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project (FEROP). “It is a breathtakingly beautiful animal.”

As orcas can travel thousands of miles, the search for Iceberg has been long and arduous. Scientists are trying to establish whether Iceberg is an albino, a genetic condition that blocks the production of pigment in the body and severely damages vision. These traits make it nearly impossible for albino animals to survive in the wild, let alone mature into adulthood.

“We want to find out more about Iceberg,” said Hoyt. “We would like to find out how he is able to survive as a white whale.”

Written by Irish Emigrant

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Judge dismisses suit to free orca from captivity

A federal judge in Seattle has dismissed a lawsuit aimed at freeing the killer whale Lolita from captivity at Miami Seaquarium.msq1-lolita-gate11

Judge Benjamin H. Settle last week ruled that orca activists who sued the federal government didn’t give proper notice and failed to state a valid claim. He granted motions by the government and Seaquarium to dismiss the case.

Lolita has been performing at Seaquarium since she was captured from Puget Sound waters in 1970.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and three individuals sued the National Marine Fisheries Service in November, saying it should have protected Lolita when it listed other Puget Sound orcas as endangered in 2005.

The groups say they’ll continue to fight for Lolita’s release. Seaquarium has said Lolita is healthy and well-cared for.

Written by The Seattle Times

Dolphins Lead ‘Complicated’ Social Lives

bottlenose_dolphinIn what can only be described as “West Side Story” meets “Flipper,” scientists say they’ve discovered that male bottlenose dolphins break out into gangs to protect their females.

The researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, studied more than 120 adult dolphins, with a focus on the males, during a five-year period in Shark Bay, western Australia.

Their findings were published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B.

Richard Connor, a co-author and biology professor who has studied these particular dolphins for more than 20 years, said male dolphins’ social lives were intense.

“It seems there is constant drama. I have often thought, as I watched their complicated alliance relationships, that their social lives would be mentally and physically exhausting,” he told Discovery News. “I’m glad I’m not a dolphin.”

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Dolphin in Wetlands May Have Been Chased There, Rescuer Says

A dolphin that has made a temporary home in shallow waters off Southern California’s coast may have been forced there by a brutish band of other dolphins, says a wildlife expert who tried to steer it toward open water this weekend.

“He was scared. He was intimidated. He was bullied,” Peter Wallerstein, director of El Segundo-based Marine Animal Rescue, told The Los Angeles Times.

On Friday morning, the black-and-white common dolphin was found swimming in circles 12 feet from the shore in the Bolsa Chica wetlands south of Los dolphin_bullied_huntington_beachAngeles. Officials told ABC News affiliate KABC Friday that the dolphin appeared disoriented and stressed and could be at risk of suffocating in the low waters.

Wallerstein said Monday that when wildlife rescue crews had tried to help the dolphin move back into the ocean Saturday, a group of dolphins appeared, thrashing around and attacking the loner. Wallerstein said the dolphin eventually retreated back into the channel.

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