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