Baby dolphin found dead

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 18, No. 23            June 5, 2008

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Speculating by the size and weight of the body it is believed that the carcass was of a baby dolphin.

"Katanga" found the baby dolphin (also pictured).

Lying in the freezer at the Hol Chan Marine office on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008, was the carcass of a dolphin. Speculating by the size and weight of the body it is believed that the carcass was of a baby dolphin.

    Raul "Katanga" Milian was the person who found the dolphin on the shores of Northern Ambergris Caye within the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve. "When I picked him up, he was barely alive. He died in my arms," he commented. Katanga said that the dolphin was found on June 1st, the Friday when San Pedro was feeling the effects of the Tropical Storm. With high surges, high waves and much rain, it is believed that it got separated from its mother. What happened after the separation is hard to say, but it is strongly believed that the waves and the constant slamming into the reef might have seriously injured the dolphin.

    Kirah Foreman of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve stated that a necropsy would be conducted on Wednesday and, as of press time, it had not been conducted. "This procedure will allow us to find out what caused the dolphin's death. It will also help us determine the age, sex, weight and length of the creature." According to Kirah this is a highly unusual incident, "I have only encountered two dolphin carcasses since I have been with Hol Chan."

    In place, is the Belize Marine Mammal Stranding Network (BMMSN) which was formed to help gather valuable information on stranded marine mammals and turtles. This is a volunteer group formed by various non-governmental organizations, Government and private agencies who are dedicated to the study and conservation of marine animals and sea turtles. These volunteers are the ones who respond to a stranding event. A stranding is an animal that is helpless, usually because it is injured, weak, or can not cope in its present situation. Dead animals are also referred to as strandings, although beachings is a more precise term to refer to animals that are found dead on shore or at sea.

    The most common marine species that strands in Belize is the Antillean Manatee. Water-craft collision and illegal poaching are the most common causes of death to manatees. Other marine mammals found in Belize are Cetaceans and this order includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. These animals strand for various reasons, including evading predators, following prey inshore, geomagnetic disturbances and errors in navigation.

    If you find a stranded animal please:

  • Keep people away from the stranding.
  • Take photos from various angles.
  • Call the closest district team leader (in San Pedro that would be the Hol Chan office) to report the stranding.
  • Observe the animal and be able to provide the following information:
    • The type of stranded animals (manatee, dolphin, or turtle)
    • The number of stranded animals
    • The approximate sizes of the individual animals
    • The condition of the strandings (dead or alive, trapped in a structure or material)
    • Note the presence of any metal or plastic tag on flippers, tail or fin (e.g. description, number)
    • Know the precise location of the stranding, noting landmarks and accessibility by land.
    • If alive on the beach, keep stranding moist by covering the body with wet towels. Be sure not to cover the blow hole or nostrils.
  • Touch, move, or disturb the stranding.
  • Make loud noises around the stranding.
  • Feed a live stranding.
  • Have domestic animals near the stranding.

        For further information contact Hol Chan at 226-2247.
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