Watching Our Water Ways

Environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related.
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Posts Tagged ‘dolphins’

Dolphin rescue touches many hearts

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

If you haven’t seen it, I think you’ll be impressed with this video, which shows a bottlenose dolphin apparently asking for help from some scuba divers, who noticed the animal tangled in fishing line with a hook imbedded in its fin.

Martina Wing of Ocean Wings Hawaii captured the action, which really begins at 3:30 into the eight-minute video, though the early part sets the scene with some beautiful shots of manta rays. The encounter took place Jan. 11 off the west coast of the Big Island.

Reporter Philip Caulfield of the New York Daily News quoted Keller Laros, the diver who came to the rescue, as saying the dolphin was responsive to his gesture and deliberately moved in close to be helped:

“I noticed he had a fishing wire wrapped around his left fin. I reached out with my left hand … and gestured with my index finger ‘Come here.’ And he swam right up to me. The fact that he seemed to recognize my gesture, that blew me away.”

Laros was able to cut away the line and remove the hook, and the dolphin swam away.

The video has been viewed nearly 2 million times, with more than 2,000 comments posted to the site. I found some observations to be thought-provoking:

DavidKevin: I am overwhelmed.

I have been certain for over 35 years that we shared the planet with another sentient species, the dolphins, and this is just more evidence of it. We don’t have to go off-planet to find an alien species with whom to communicate, we just have to look offshore.

If we cannot learn to communicate with our distant mammalian relatives, we’ll never be able to communicate with true extra-terrestrials, should we ever meet them.

Marvelicious75: We use the word ‘sentient’ in a dialectic manner, but it is quite obviously not accurate. It is arrogance that makes us consider ourselves separate from ‘animals’ like the dolphin. This story isn’t truly surprising in light of the countless stories of dolphins rescuing humans. The only limiting factor is our surprising lack of empathy….

Hobbitfrdo: Sad day for the world if we stopped loving all creatures. Respect to you all.

Russell Laros: The diver cutting the line off in the video is my father. He was really happy to be able to make this connection to the animal and was pretty impressed by it’s intelligence. Apparently this dolphin has been in contact with humans before, though. It has been seen and interacted with workers at a local open ocean fish farm nearby. Still really amazing though….

Misa Eniaki Amane: This dolphin is smarter than all of us…..went up for air and back down to continue with the rescue.

supertekkel1: There are numerous_ ancient stories of dolphins rescuing sailors who went overboard. Whether they are true or not, it’s nice to see that we are finally able to do something to return the favor.

1Irisangel: What a blessing to have captured these moments on film. No words needed, only love and compassion for a fellow traveler on planet Earth. Wonderful capture Martina!

OonaCanute: Now to get rid of all the fishing nets and lines and hooks that kill thousands of dolphins like this beauty every year.

Alex Bruce: The trust the dolphin had in the humans in his time of need is humbling to me. Dolphins are very intelligent creatures and know when to allow man to handle and help them. The men that helped the dolphin have to have felt some sense of pride derived from their kindness and humane actions. I know I did when many years ago I helped rescue a pelican that had a 3-barb hook anchored in its wing and a weight that was attached to the fishing line. He said. “Thank you” in his way and took off in flight :-)

bcmom5: Awesome. It swam around until it found the right person to help it. That person and all who had a hand in it were blessed with Dolphin Medicine which teaches us to get out and breathe, explore, play. Breathe new life into your life. Awesome. :) Thank you for helping and for sharing.

userbc44: What a touching and pure video! I love the part at 4:33 when the diver goes to take off his lights and puts them on the sea floor, the dolphin swims right in front of him as to say, “Theres more! don’t go, here I am!”

POMPCATZ: Wonderful to watch this intelligent creature seek your help and let you finish the job after going up for air. This is just more proof these beautiful. intelligent life forms should not be slaughtered for ignorant tradition and profit.

KillerinExile: Dolphins seem almost sapient. If they’re smart enough to ask for help maybe we shouldn’t be eating and abusing them like we do.

starsbydaylight: … I am sure the majority of people are naturally happy to help distressed animals that keep their calm, sometimes being out of fear unreasonable while being rescued. Once I witnessed a toddler busy carefully rescue a butterfly drowning in a puddle of water. The intelligence of the dolphin and the kind manner of the diver made me cry. In fact the dolphin saved its own life….

flowerseva: This is the ‘Real News’ happening on Planet Earth! Imagine if the 6 o’clock nightly news was filled with these images and emotions – What kind of world would we then be creating??


Amusing Monday: Time-warp view of ‘Fish from Hell’

Monday, June 7th, 2010

If this week’s film “Fish from Hell” is any indication, Americans’ view of life in the ocean has changed considerably since 1945. (Scroll down for video player.)

I found this film in the Prelinger Archives, a large collection of old films and television commercials started in 1983 by Rick Prelinger in New York City.

It’s a longer video than I usually offer for Amusing Monday. But if you pick any point on either of the two video segments you will find something interesting, if not shocking. If you are limited on time, check out Part 2 at 2 minutes, 50 seconds, where the fear of a large octopus is truly amusing, knowing what we know about these creatures in Puget Sound. The storyline of “man against nature” seems quaint from a modern scientific perspective, but I wonder how many people still hold this world view.
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Pens for guard dolphins are detailed in Corps application

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

The Navy has applied for an Army Corps of Engineers permit to build holding pens for the guard dolphins and sea lions at Kitsap Naval Base at Bangor. (See previous entries from Jan. 27 and Feb. 12.)

The Corps released the application today, including provisions for public comments and a possible public hearing. Download the notice, including drawings, from the Corps of Engineers Web site (PDF 568 kb).

Federal agencies must ensure that the project complies with federal laws, including the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The facility is a 9,892-square-foot floating dock with four floating enclosed dolphin pens and three enclosed sea lions pens. The pens are to be located 200 feet offshore in 20 to 30 feet of water.

Each dolphin pen would be 30 by 30 feet and 12 feet deep. Pens would be heated to 52 degrees as part of a closed-water circulation system, which would filter and clean the water.

Sea lions pens would be 30 by 30 feet and 8 feet deep. About half of each pen would consist of a haul-out area.

Office space, equipment storage and a small laboratory would be located on the floating facility. Upland support facilities of 7,500 square feet will include modular buildings for staff, lab space, food preparation area, storage and on-shore pools and pens for isolation during veterinary care.

Six power boats, 18 to 25 feet long, will dock at the facility and lend operational support when the dolphins are out in Hood Canal.


Guard dolphins generate few comments in Silverdale

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

UPDATE: Some opponents showed up at A Seattle hearing the next night, including activists bearing signs that said, “We will knit for dolphins.” I’ve added some information from the Los Angeles Times at the end of this entry.
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In a public hearing last night, nobody stood up to protest the U.S. Navy’s use of guard dolphins and sea lions in Hood Canal.

My colleague Ed Friedrich, who wrote a story for today’s Kitsap Sun, pointed out that, unlike a “scoping” meeting two years ago, nobody came to the meeting knitting sweaters, hats or mittens for the dolphins.

According to the Navy, studies have shown that the dolphins can tolerate the cold water fairly well. To be sure, they will be asked to patrol for only a couple of hours at a time, after which they will return to a warm-water enclosure.

About 50 people showed up, and only two testified. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people chose to attend the Puget Sound-Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference in Seattle instead of the hearing. But everyone will have another chance to testify tonight.

Judy Dicksion, who has worked as a volunteer observer of marine mammals in Hood Canal, said the Navy went out of its way to address her concerns.

Pete Schroeder, a veterinarian who specializes in marine mammals, said the Navy’s marine mammal research program is the best in the world. “These animals will be safe, and in my experience they will be happy,” he said about the guard dolphins and sea lions.

I know that a number of people have serious concerns about this program — including possible questions of morality, as demonstrated by comments on this blog.

The only other hearing on the environmental assessment will be tonight from 5 to 9 p.m. at Tyee High School, 4424 S. 188th Place in SeaTac. An open house is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. followed by a presentation and testimony after that.

It would be great to get a report from anyone who attends that hearing, and feel free to post your opinions here.

You can review the Navy’s program at the Web site called Swimmer Interdiction Security Program.

UPDATED INFORMATION FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES ABOUT THE HEARING IN SEATTLE THE FOLLOWING NIGHT:
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Navy’s guard dolphins are under review at Bangor

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

The Navy is back to talking about using dolphins and sea lions for patrolling Hood Canal for enemy swimmers near the Navy’s submarine base at Bangor.

Navy officials say there’s really not much difference between using guard dogs to patrol a facility on land and using guard dolphins to patrol a facility on the water.

A story in today’s Kitsap Sun by Ed Friedrich indicates that the Navy is committed to carrying out some kind of “swimmer interdiction security program.” Four alternatives are up for public discussion: using California sea lions and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins; just sea lions; combat swimmers; remotely operated vehicles; and no change.

The preferred option is both dolphins and sea lions.

In one possible program, dolphins would be trained to drop a lighted buoy near an enemy swimmer. In another program, sea lions would learn to clamp a cuff on a swimmer’s leg so that the enemy could be reeled in like a big fish.

Ten years ago, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society and other environmental groups sued the Navy over its plans to deploy dolphins at Bangor. The Navy eventually agreed to withdraw the proposal until a full environmental review could be completed.

Two years ago, the Navy started through the environmental analysis, and PAWS prepared for another public campaign and possible legal action. The group’s primary objections centered on the cold water of Hood Canal, which is not the dolphins’ normal habitat, and the fact that the captive animals would never be free to swim in open waters except when on duty and under the control of humans.

For information, check Navy Web sites about the marine mammal program and analysis of the Bangor Swimmer Interdiction Security System.


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"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist

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