Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Dolphin rescued at Tanjung Aru


Yota is the latest resident at BMRI of late. Found stranded along the Tanjung Aru beach by school children from Sekolah Seri Mengasih who alerted their teacher. The Wildlife Department and the Fisheries Research Center (LKIM) was alerted about it and it was decided that UMS would be the best if not the only place with the facilities to rehabilitate the dolphin. Yota as his caretaker Dr. Sino, a lecturer and advisor here at BMRI, has affectionately called is now recuperating in the BMRI hatchery where a special tank has been cleared for it. Yota has been identified as a Pantropical Spotted Dolphin and was discovered with wounds near his belly. Sabah’s coast is a rich area for marine mammals and reptiles consisting of dolphins, whale sharks and sea turtles. Such large density of animals and the closeness of development may lead to beach stranding and usually involves an injured animal. Propeller wounds are quite common due to the high traffic of outboard motor boats while fish bombing incidents may disorient injured animals.

This is not the first time UMS/BMRI had to deal with a beached marine mammal. A year ago another incident involved a beach dolphin was referred to BMRI to handle. At first decision was hard due to the lack of experience of the staff in handling actual cetaceans but Dr. Sino said he was up to it and relentlessly consulting with colleagues in his native Japan he soon set up a rehabilitation tank for Anako. Anako was a Spinner Dolphin that was found by fisher folks near Tuaran coast and severe head injuries were apparent. Even as she was brought in, Anako was quite weak from her injuries and was seen floating aimlessly in the tank with little appetite. Sadly her injuries were too grievous that less than a week after being brought in she succumbed. Far from being a failure, it gave the institute valuable experience in handling stranded marine mammals and would ensure that it is in more of a prepared state in future crisis. The carcass gave the staff valuable practice in studying the animal and Anako is now stuffed and on display in the museum in the hopes of bringing awareness to visitors on these intelligent mammals.

Last week saw quick action being taken with the immediate transport of Yota to the Institute whereas previously the question of where to put or even who would take care of Anako wasted precious time. Quick action reduced the amount of stress to the animal and with the experience previously preparation for the enclosure was swift. Injuries this time for Yota was not serious and he is quite active already, able to swim around and even in a playful mood to the staff that is attending it. It is believed that he is recovering well and if nothing goes amiss and he fully recovers, he would be able to be released into the waters of Sepanggar Bay in 3 to 5 days. He will be closely monitored the next few days to see how his health is progressing.

Dolphin Posted by Hello

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