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ENVIRONMENT -
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Dolphins Discovered Fleeing Warming Tropical Waters

Posted in the database on Monday, March 06th, 2006 @ 14:41:55 MST (2177 views)
from The ecoEnquirer  

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Pod of dolphins observed fleeing tropical waters, which have warmed to dangerous levels in recent years.

Marine researchers who have been observing the same pod of dolphins off Florida's eastern coast for three years have now, for the first time, photographed the dolphins swimming directly northward.

"These bottlenose dolphins, possibly the smartest creatures on Earth, were observed swimming directly northward", said Prof. Bonita Krillman. "Given the recently observed warming of the tropical oceans, we theorize that this pod is heading poleward in search of cooler waters".

Underwater listening devices, used to pick up the normal playful squeals of the fun-loving dolphins, recorded squeals with a noticably different timbre, the researchers reported. "They sounded more terrified than playful", claimed Crystal Dearing, a graduate student working toward a degree in Anthropogenic Environmental Disasters at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. "They sounded distressed and fearful".

The scientists, who perform their work aboard the research ship "Gaia's Revenge" were noticeably shaken by the observation of the dolphin pod's behavior. "We were performing our usual tasks -- photographing and communing with the pod -- when someone yelled, 'Oh my God! They are travelling directly northward!'. We were stunned at the obvious implications of this unusual behavior", related Ms. Dearing.

Dr. William Fishman, program manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Sustainable Wildlife Division was also troubled by the news. Contacted by phone, Dr. Fishman said "this is exactly what we would expect for dolphin behavior... if you had hot water poured on you, you would flee, wouldn't you?"

The group plans to extend their two week research cruise by another week to see how far northward the dolphins migrate. Even though the researchers have been working in the same region off the Florida coast for ten years, the present pod has been studied for only three years. Tragically, another pod that had been closely followed for seven years was decimated by a great white shark in 2003.



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