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13 February 2009

Rescued dolphin recovering in Subic

One of the dolphins stranded along the coastal towns of Pilar and Orion in Bataan the other day is now recovering under the care of animal health experts at the Ocean Adventure marine theme park here.

The dolphin was transported to the marine facility here late on Tuesday after it was observed to be having problems in balancing itself.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza said that veterinarians from the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium-Ocean Adventure (SBME-OA), as well as experts from Subic-based groups Wildlife in Need (WIN) and International Development and Environmental Shipping School (IDESS) are now monitoring the animal, which has shown signs of recovering.

At least 200 melon-head dolphins, which are considered as threatened species, were spotted in shallow waters off Bataan the other day for still unknown reasons.

Three of the mammals had since died as fishermen and personnel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) tried to herd them into deeper waters.

The solitary dolphin that was brought to Subic as part of the government’s rescue effort, was very weak when it arrived here, said Olga Piaga, executive assistant to Ocean Adventure president John Corcoran.

She said the animal was placed in a circular pool and experts are tending to it around the clock.

“It’s very weak possibly because of dehydration, which causes it to lose balance,” Piaga said. “If we leave it alone, it might drown — even if it is an aquatic animal.”

Piaga said the dolphin will be staying in Subic for a couple of days before being freed into the open sea.

“We would like to determine what causes some of the dolphins to become weaker than the others,” Piaga added, saying that all the data collected by Ocean Adventure’s marine animal experts will be brought abroad for thorough study.

The results will only be available after next week, she said.

Arreza said animal health experts from the Subic marine park were tapped “for the medical aspect” of the rescue effort, while BFAR took responsibility for monitoring the movement of the dolphin pods.

“The primary concern now of our government is to keep these dolphins alive. And animal experts from the Ocean Adventure and WIN came in to help,” he said.

BFAR director Malcolm Sarmiento, Jr. said earlier that the dolphins may have been disoriented by a sea quake, or that the pod could have been following a sick or injured leader into shallow waters.

If the leader of the pod is weak or injured, it is easily disoriented and may lead the others in its pod to be beached, he added.

Ocean Adventure’s Piaga said the SBME-OA has successfully rescued several stranded dolphins in the past. However, it was the first time for the facility to respond in such mass stranding as that which occurred on Tuesday. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: Animal health experts at the Ocean Adventure marine park in the Subic Bay Freeport tend to a dolphin, which was weakened after getting stranded off the coast of Bataan on Tuesday.

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