Three wild baby dolphins are rescued, and many more die. One captive dolphin becomes pregnant, another reaches a milestone birthday, and another passes away. Japan stops whaling for a while at least, whales and dolphins make a comeback in cleaned-up waters in two parts of the world, dolphins help rescue a dog from a Florida waterway, and whale watchers save a whale in the Sea of Cortez.
Catch up with these and other headlines, see beautiful images of dolphins and whales, watch videos and audio slideshows and reap the benefit of one photographer’s encounters with one beautiful species in this first edition of GNN’s Dolphin & Whale News Digest.
There’s too much news for one roundup, always will be, so expect more soon — along with a separate series on the life stories of SeaWorld’s killer whales. In the meantime, feel free to browse the entries in this roundup’s five categories: SeaWorld, Dolphins & Whales in Captivity, Dolphins & Whales in the Wild, Dogs & Dolphins and Best for Last.
Whatever you do, be sure to check out Best for Last: Whale Watchers Save a Whale. It’s a true story, it’s amazing, the images and video are wonderful, and it will leave you feeling all good and happy inside. Huge thanks to Amanda Dargan and Steve Zeitlin of City Lore for sharing it.
For the record: DWND opposes keeping dolphins and whales in captivity except for rescue and rehab purposes and as the only viable option for captive-born and long-captive animals who couldn’t survive in the wild. It will report captive marine mammal news out of concern for these animals and respect for people’s right to form their own opinions about the practice. It asks only that while reading these stories and watching these video reports, people who love dolphins and whales keep a few things in mind:
The captive display industry doesn’t use the term “captive” or “in captivity” anymore. The preferred euphemism is “in human care.” Watch for it.
Industry spokespeople don’t like to discuss mortality rates. You can find some of this information at cetabase.com.
On February 24, 2010, a captive killer whale (orca) named Tilikum — captured off Iceland in 1983 and now the biggest orca in captivity — grabbed and killed 40-year-old senior killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld Orlando. Read how her family is faring and honoring her memory here and here.
The day Tilikum killed Brancheau, SeaWorld pulled all killer whale trainers out of the water, stripping shows of the in-water stunts and interactions audiences love. Now, SeaWorld wants trainers to get back in the pool. Read more here. Learn about the new safety features SeaWorld says will prevent another killing here. Read what critics think of SeaWorld’s plans here.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined SeaWorld Orlando for worker-safety violations after Tilikum’s attack. SeaWorld is fighting the fines but doesn’t want the public or press in the hearing room when it discusses private business. Read OSHA’s report here. Read about the April 25 hearing here. Learn some of the facts SeaWorld wants to keep private here.
Dolphins & Whales in Captivity
Nellie was born at Marineland of Florida in St. Augustine, where the first captive Bottlenose went on display in 1938. Her parents came from the wild. She turned 58 on February 27, making her the oldest Bottlenose in captivity. Read about how Marineland celebrated her birthday here. Learn more about Nellie and her birthday party here and here.
Born in the wild and captured at around age 3, April moved with her daugher Allie from Illinois’ Brookfield Zoo to the Minnesota Zoo in 2008 to replenish the Minnesota Zoo’s stock after 3 dolphins died. Learn more about April here and here. See more images of her here.
Captured at around age 3 and now 26, Tique (TEE-kay) and another female were shipped from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium to the Miami Seaquarium in 2008 to breed with the Seaquarium’s male. They’re back now, and Tique is expecting. Read more and learn about the outcome of her two previous pregnancies here.
Six-month-old Taz was found on a sandbar on Florida’s Sanibel Island on January 13 and taken to Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota for round-the-clock care. Now he’s moving to the Indianapolis Zoo to join a group of four adult females, two younger females and one younger male. Read more about Taz and where he’s going here, here and here.
Two-year-old Louie was found covered in oil on a Louisiana beach last September. Cared for at the Audubon Aquatic Center in New Orleans, he became the only oil-spill strander to survive. Last month, he moved to the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon, FL. Read more about Louie and see more pictures of him here and here.
This baby was found in December circling her mom’s body in waters near Titusville. She now shares a home with another rescue, Winter, the famous dolphin without a tail. Learn more about both dolphins here and here. Watch a “Today Show” segment about the new baby here. Join the “name the baby” contest here.
Dolphins & Whales in the Wild
More than 80 dolphins have washed up dead along the Gulf of Mexico so far this year, half of them babies. Manatees are dying, too. Because of the spill? Cold water? Something else? Watch an AP video report on the crisis here. Read what experts think may be the cause here, here, here, here and here. Learn what’s being done here and here.
Japan ended its annual Antarctic whale-killing season early last month, blaming harassment by anti-whaling activist Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd crew. Watch an AP video report here. Read more here, here and here. Check out “Whale Wars,” the documentary series about Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling campaign here.
NYC ferry boat captain Tom Paladino used to see maybe 4 whales a year in local waters. Now that the water’s cleaner he sees so many whales, seals and dolphins he started running tours. Watch a video about Tom here. Read more about NYC’s marine mammal visitors here and here. Learn how conservationists hope to protect them here.
Three populations of killer whales inhabit the waters of the Pacific Northwest, each with its own diet. Residents eat fish. Transients eat sea lions and seals. And off-shores, scientists now know, eat sleeper sharks — and wear down their teeth in the process. Learn more here, here, here and here. See icky photos of dead orcas’ teeth here.
Gerry Charlebois, owner of Birds in Paradise Flight School, photographed this humpback off Kauai on February 7. People wondered if the whale had been hit by a ship, but an expert said no, the cause was more likely a chronic condition like Scoliosis. The whale hasn’t been seen since. Read more here , here, and here.
They were once a common sight: large groups of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, a.k.a. Chinese White Dolphins, a.k.a. “giant pandas of the sea,” jumping off shore. Then came industry and pollution. Then came efforts to bring them back. Learn how Xiamen did it here. Learn more about this species here and here.
The enchanting, endangered Amazon River Dolphin, a.k.a. Pink River Dolphin, a.k.a. Boto, is reportedly still being killed and chopped up into catfish bait in Brazil. Read the sad story here. Learn about this fascinating species and see images and videos here. See beautiful images from one photographer’s encounters with these dolphins here, here and here.
Dolphins & Dogs
Turbo the Doberman vanished from his owner’s Marco Island FL canal-front property late Feb 20. The next day, down the canal, a couple saw two dolphins splashing insistently, came closer and found Turbo shivering on a sandbar. When they went in to help him, the dolphins left. Read more here, here and here. Watch a video report here.
Ben, a Yellow Lab, dog-paddles out from a dock on Tory Island to swim with Duggie, a wild female dolphin, every chance he gets. Read the first local story about the duo here. Read a follow-up story, watch a charming BBC video and see other video footage here.
Tucker, a Black Lab, hates being wet but enjoys helping orca researchers do their work. Scientists can tell a lot about how orcas are faring by collecting and analyzing their floating poop. Keen-nosed Tucker helps them find it. Watch the BBC audio slideshow “The Dog and the Whale” here.
Best for Last
Talk about a Valentine’s Day neither Humpback nor humans are likely to forget. George and Whitney Brasington and daughter Alayada were out whale-watching in Baja with tour-operator friends Heather and Michael Fishbach last Valentine’s Day when they came upon a Humpback horribly entangled in net. Click here to read their account, see their photos and watch their video of what followed. You will be extremely glad you did!
Thanks again to Amanda Dargan and Steve Zeitlin of City Lore for sharing this story with us!
And a huge cheer for the Brasingtons and Fishbachs for saving Valentina, the Humpback whale!
Until next time!