Dolphins “Beached” on Cement When Tanks Cleaned

The Festa Dolphinarium in Varna, Bulgaria

Dolphinarium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever wonder what happens to captive dolphins when their tanks need cleaning? I admit, I haven’t thought too much about it. If I had, I would assume they were transferred to a holding tank while the cleaning was done.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. What does happen in many captive dolphin tanks throughout the world (including the U.S.) is the water is drained out while the dolphins are still in the tanks! The poor souls are essentially “beached” on the concrete pool bottoms. They can’t move at all. From the photographs, it appears they are surrounded by the chemicals used to clean the pools. Absolutely barbaric! Is this treatment of such intelligent and fascinating creatures acceptable?

Take a look at the original blog post which shows photos of the cleaning: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/10/22/heartbreaking-images-dolphins-lying-drained-aquarium-tank-routine-says-ric-o:

You can also view this video of another cleaning in Japan:

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One of the Last Photographs of Beggar (Mooch) the Dolphin

One of our wonderful blog readers, Monica Stecher, had the honor of visiting with Beggar the dolphin on September 14, 2012. As noted in yesterday’s blog post, Beggar’s body was found  this past Friday. Monica is most likely one of the last people to spend time with him before he died. She was able to take a beautiful up-close photograph of him while boating in Nokomis, FL. Monica kindly allowed me to post his picture and her story.  So many people were saddened to hear about Beggar’s death. I hope this picture brings some joy! Thank you, Monica.

One of the last photographs of Beggar (taken on 9/14/12 by Monica Stecher)

Once or twice a year, we visit our best friend in Nokomis who lives just a
few blocks away from the bridge they found the deceased Beggar the dolphin.
On Friday September 14th we launched the boat from the canal at Casey Key
near Nokomis Beach and spent the day out in the Gulf and swimming at Turtle
Beach.  On our return back through the bay we were heading for dinner
somewhere on the water when Beggar made his appearance and let me snap this
picture.  We returned the next day for a repeat of a great day out on the
water but did not see Beggar at the usual spot.  I knocked on the side of
the boat, but he never showed.  On Sunday the 16th, we weren’t able to do
any boating because of the torrential rain.  I have to wonder if all that
fresh water flooding the bay had something to do with the health of an
already sick dolphin.  But I don’t know, I’m no biologist, just a tourist,
that will always treasure the greetings of the likes of a zany dolphin named
Beggar.

Monica Stecher
Murphy, NC

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Beggar the Dolphin Found Dead in Florida

One of Florida’s most iconic and beloved wild dolphins was found dead this past Friday. Beggar (or Mooch as some people called him) was a bottlenose dolphin who lived in the Nokomis area of Florida. Beggar hung around under the Albee Street Bridge and was famous for spontaneously showing up alongside boats, popping his head out of the water, opening his mouth wide, and begging for food. He was also notorious for biting the hand that tried to feed him!

File:Sarasota County Florida Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Nokomis Highlighted.svg

Unfortunately, this crafty dolphin was usually successful at obtaining handouts from the humans onboard. He was reportedly fed everything from hot dogs to beer. Despite efforts by law enforcement to curtail this illegal feeding, area residents and visitors fed him for more than two decades. Signs directly under the bridge warn not to feed wild dolphins, and clearly indicate that the activity is illegal. It didn’t seem to matter to the delighted boat passengers who were always thrilled to receive a visit from Beggar.

Researchers at the Mote Laboratory in Sarasota have been studying Beggar’s behavior for many years. After he died, a necropsy was performed on him with disheartening results. Beggar appears to have been sick for many years. The scientists found fish hooks and fishing line in his stomach, many broken ribs and bones, propeller scars, puncture wounds, parasites, and ulcers. They attribute many of these problems to Beggar’s scheming behavior around boats. Dolphins that lose their natural wariness around humans tend to end up in harm’s way. It seems that is exactly what happened to this poor wayward fellow.

In my book, The Dolphin Watcher’s Guide to Southwest Florida, I talk about Beggar and his curious behavior. In fact, I’ve stood on that very bridge where Beggar liked to hang out, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. I never did see him…

To see a gorgeous picture of Beggar taken just days before he died, click here.

For more information about the dangers of feeding wild dolphins, check out:

Wild Dolphins “Jonesing” For People Food

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Tom and Misha – Update!

In May of this year, I told you about the two captive Turkish dolphins (Tom and Misha) that had been rehabilitated and set free in the wild. As of July 16, 2012, it appears the two male dolphins are doing just fine! Interestingly enough, Tom and Misha did not remain together for very long. After a few days together, they each went their separate ways.

Tom is spending his time in Kusadasi, which is the area from which he is believed to have been captured. The other dolphin, Misha, is hanging around the area of Antalya and seems to be doing well.

This story has incredible ramifications for other dolphins currently being held in captivity. For those dolphins captured from the wild, it seems it may be possible to re-teach them the skills they need to survive and eventually release them back to the open sea. I wonder if we will soon be hearing more stories of successful dolphin releases.

For pictures and to follow the dolphins’ progress, please visit the Born Free website.

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Florida Pictures – Why I Love Florida!

Florida is breathtakingly beautiful. Pictures really cannot do justice to the natural beauty here. I have traveled quite a bit over the years, but something keeps drawing me back to this wonderful state. Maybe it is the dolphins (!), unique birds, palm trees, gorgeous beaches, warm weather, and never-ending supply of wonderful outdoor bars and restaurants. Since Florida is on my mind today, I thought I would share some Florida pictures that seem to somewhat capture my love affair with this special place. Here are some of my favorites!

Florida Bar

Florida Boardwalk

Florida Bird Ordering Food

Florida Bird

Florida Beach

Florida Beach 2

Florida Boat wake

Florida Dolphins Free

Florida Dolphin

John's Pass

Florida Motel

Florida Outdoor Dining

Florida Snack Bar

Marco RIver

Keewaydin Island

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Tom and Misha – Turkish Captive Dolphins Set Free!

Tom and Misha are two male bottlenose dolphins who had been living in a very small and dirty hotel pool in Turkey. They had been captured from the wild about 6-7 years ago and neglected since then. The Born Free Foundation (and other members of the “Back to the Blue” project) rescued these two dolphins, and over the course of about 20 months re-taught them survival skills. This training (e.g., how to hunt live fish) was in preparation for their eventual release back into the wild. This release day finally happened!

As of a couple of days ago, the two dolphins (who are being tracked by satellite) seem to be doing just fine. Trainers seem to think they are travelling back to the area where they were captured. At last report, they have travelled more than 100 miles.

You can learn more about Tom and Misha’s story and follow their progress at the Born Free Foundation’s website.  I wish them the best of luck! I have to admit I am nervous about their chances of survival, but I am thrilled they are being given the chance. If this rehabilitation is successful perhaps other captive dolphins around the world can be set free. Here is a video of their release back into the wild and their first taste of freedom.

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Where Do Dolphins Live? Near Florida Fishing Piers!

Dolphins like fishing piers and for good reason. Piers provide easy access to a variety of fish, and the humans do a lot of the work for them! When looking for new dolphin watching spots I always check out the fishing piers. Where there are fishermen there are usually dolphins too. Ever the opportunists, dolphins hang around waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. Once fish are caught, the dolphins leap into action. Their goal — grab the fish before it is reeled in.

On a recent trip to Florida I watched this mischief get carried out numerous times. One fisherman told me he lost 19 fish to dolphins the day before!  Although it is exciting to watch dolphins leap out in pursuit of dangling fish, these fish are attached to dangerous hooks. This is where the problem lies. Dolphins can and do get hooked and harmed. Discarded fishing line also causes problems.

NOAA and its Florida wildlife conservation partners are setting out to educate fishermen about the dangers of hooking and entangling dolphins. Notices describing “dolphin friendly fishing tips” and how to protect wild dolphins while fishing are popping up in an effort to reduce harm.

Here are some pictures of dolphins hanging around a gorgeous pier in Florida.

Two dolphins up close

Partners in crime just waiting for their opportunity to strike!

2 dolphins begging from fisherman

Begging! “Maybe if I look really hungry this guy will help me out!”

two dolphins playing at a pier

These two took time out to play while waiting for their next victim to arrive.

Cute Florida pelicans

Pelicans are also commonly hooked as they also spend a lot of time at piers with the fishermen.

Dolphin stealing fish

This dolphin was heading in for the “kill”. What you can’t see here is the fish that had just been caught, and the fisherman preparing to reel it in. The dolphin jumped out of the water after it but he was too late. The fish was successfully reeled in!

Dolphin fishing tips

Some excellent advice on how to enjoy fishing while reducing harm to dolphins!

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