Dolphin Deaths in Gulf of Mexico – “Perfect Storm” of BP Oil Spill and Cold Water

A C-130 Applies Dispersants During the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (USCG Photo)

A C-130 Applies Dispersants During the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (USCG Photo)

In a study published in PLos ONE, investigators studied a large die-off of dolphins in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. During the first four months of 2011, 186 bottlenose dolphins, 86 of which were very young perinatal calves, washed ashore from Louisiana to western Florida. For perinatal dolphins, this stranding rate was nearly 6 times higher than the average number of perinatal strandings in the region during the previous 8 years and nearly twice the historical percentage of total strandings. These dolphin deaths represent the largest marine mammal mortality event in the Northern Gulf of Mexico since 2004, when a red tide killed more than 100 bottlenose dolphins off the Florida panhandle.

What killed so many dolphins? Investigators point to a “perfect storm” of dolphins weakened by the BP oil spill, then killed by colder-than-normal water in the Gulf that took its toll on a vulnerable dolphin population. [Read more...]

Do Dolphins Hunt with Mathematics?

White Spinner Dolphin, Kona Hawaii

White Spinner Dolphin (Photo: SteveD. via Flickr)

We know dolphins are smart, but a study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A by Timothy Leighton at the University of Southampton, UK, raises the question as to whether dolphins are actually using complex nonlinear math tricks to hunt. Dolphins sometimes create a “bubble curtain” to corral and concentrate prey like sardines, making it easier to pick them off. But dolphins rely on their sonar when hunting, and all those bubbles would seem to interfere with a dolphin’s ability to distinguish its prey. Bubbles certainly interfere with man-made sonar systems. So the researchers wondered if dolphins, which vary the amplitude of their sonar clicks, use a complex nonlinear processing function to essentially separate the noise from the target. In their experiment, they used such mathematical functions to process the echoes of dolphin-like pulses from targets shrouded in bubble clouds. [Read more...]

A record 129 dolphins have stranded in Cape Cod over the past 3 weeks. (CNN)

(CNN) — The unexplained beachings of scores of dolphins over the past month along Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is the largest “single-species event” of its kind on record in the northeastern United States, a marine mammal specialist said Monday.

A total of 129 common dolphins have been found since the animals began stranding themselves in early January, said Katie Moore, marine mammal rescue and research manager for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

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Note: Newswire stories are provided as a courtesy of OceanDoctor.org. Content of these articles is provided by external sources.

Why Dolphins Must be Freed — A Plea from Ric O’Barry (“The Cove”)

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November 14, 2011: He was the former trainer of the most famous dolphin of them all, Flipper. There were actually five “Flippers” in all, and when the most well-known of them all, Kathy, died in Ric O’Barry’s arms, he made the profound transition from training dolphins in captivity to combating the captivity industry. His work was featured in the Academy Award-winning film, The Cove (2009), which used covert techniques to expose the brutal dolphin hunt that persists in Taiji, Japan. Ric shares his powerful message with us. Also: What would you do if your nation was going to disappear off the face of the Earth? We get a dramatic answer from ten warrior dancers of the tiny Pacific coral atoll nation of Tokelau.

The Ocean Doctor airs weekly on WebTalkRadio.net. Want to listen on your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player? Download the mp3 file or subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a single episode. Or listen to us on your iPhone, Android phone, WebOS phone, BlackBerry or tablet, including the iPad, with the free Stitcher SmartRadio app. See the complete list of episodes. Follow The Ocean Doctor on TwitterBecome a Fan on Facebook! Submit a question and I’ll try to answer it on the air. Even better, record your question or comment on our special message line and I might play it on the air. Call: (805) 619-9194. You can also leave questions and comments for this episode below. Like the show? Learn how to become a sponsor. [Read more...]

The 21st Century Zoo

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February 21, 2011: Nearly 80 percent of Americans live in cities or urban areas. Their number one outdoor destination? The zoo. But today’s zoo has evolved far beyond the zoo we may remember from our childhood, toward being a major force in education, conservation and community leadership. Sharing his unique perspective on the vital role of the zoo is our guest, Dr. Stuart Strahl, President/CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society and Director of one of the world’s premier zoological institutions, the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.

The Ocean Doctor airs weekly on WebTalkRadio.net. Want to listen on your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player? Download the mp3 file or subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a single episode. See the complete list of episodes.

Follow The Ocean Doctor on TwitterBecome a Fan on Facebook!

Submit a question and I’ll try to answer it on the air. Even better, record your question or comment on our special message line and I might play it on the air. Call: (805) 619-9194. You can also leave questions and comments for this episode below.

Like the show? Learn how to become a sponsor. [Read more...]