My love for dolphins came around the age of 14. I was battling depression and searching for different activities to busy my mind. Puzzles were one of those activities and the first one I put together was a circular dolphin puzzle. For some reason, those three dolphins swimming through the middle of the puzzle brought me happiness. It was then that dolphins started helping me recover from a very dark period in my life.
(This post is in partnership with Dawn Dish Soap as a Dawn Wildlife Ambassador.)
Many a dolphin puzzle were put together that year, and I began filling my room with dolphin figurines I was receiving as gifts. While the puzzles eventually disappeared and the dolphin rings spend more time in the jewelry box, my love for these sweet creatures has not dwindled. There’s just something about calming and nurturing dolphins that brought me inner peace when I needed it most.
Two years ago I had the amazing chance to see dolphins swimming in the ocean. Seeing dolphins in their natural habitat had been on my bucket list for two long, and this video is something I go back and watch often. We were headed to Shell Island and a small family of dolphins swam along side us! Some day I hope to swim with dolphins – can you imagine how amazing that would be?!
As a Dawn Wildlife Ambassador, I got the chance to ask marine scientist Dr. Ellen Prager a few questions, and you can bet they were about dolphins! Mostly, I was curious about the dangers dolphins face today, and how we can help.
What dangers face dolphins today?
“Dolphins today, like many sea creatures, sadly face multiple threats. Unfortunately, some fishing techniques such as big trawl or set-up nets capture dolphins by-mistake; they are part of what we call by-catch. This is all the non-target organisms or species caught during fishing. Most by-catch is thrown back or released into the sea dead or dying. In some places in the world, such as Asia, dolphins may also be hunted to sell to programs, which keep dolphins in captivity or even for food. Other threats to dolphins include plastic, oil or other types of pollution which they ingest or become contaminated by, loss of food if the fish or squid they feed on are overfished, noise pollution which can disrupt their ability to echolocate, and climate change. Even eco-tourism, if poorly managed, can put dolphins at risk. Strandings also pose a danger to dolphins. If one or more dolphin is sick, weak, or confused it may become beached. Because dolphins are very social animals, other dolphins may then follow the other onto the beach and become stranded as well.” – Dr. Ellen Prager
How can people help dolphins?
“People can help dolphins by supporting programs that protect and rehabilitate dolphins. They can also be sure to dispose of their trash properly and recycle, and help to educate others to do the same. By eating seafood caught or raised sustainably and with good environmental practices people can also help dolphins (Monterey Bay Aquarium and The Safina Center provide excellent information on what seafood is preferable to eat). Anyone can write their political representatives and urge them to protect the coasts and ocean. Protection of overall water quality, fisheries, and the coast are very important – we need to protect where the dolphins live and what they eat just as much as to protect the dolphins themselves. And people need to conserve energy and support policies to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions to try to combat climate change. We must also denounce programs that still support the wild capture of dolphins or keep them in inhumane or inadequate conditions.” – Dr. Ellen Prager
Last week I was in San Francisco visiting The Marine Mammal Center with Dawn Dish Soap – a big supporter of the center and wildlife. I saw first hand how climate change and people are affecting the ocean’s wildlife. It was eye-opening, heart breaking, and motivating. While The Marine Mammal Center’s core work is to rescue seals and seal lions, they do respond to stranded dolphins and other cetaceans. While we were touring the center last week, they actually brought in a deceased cetacean similar to dolphins, and the tears began to weal up in my eyes. The center performed a necropsy and will gather data to find out what happened to the innocent marine mammal. Had he or she been alive, The Marine Mammal Center does have pool at the hospital that can house a smaller cetacean, and they’ve had a small number of dolphins at the center since they opened.
“Typically dolphins or porpoises will only stay at the Center until their condition stabilizes, and then they are transferred to a facility with larger pools to accommodate a longer-term rehabilitative period. We partner with a number of organizations, including Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz, to rescue dolphins or to transfer dolphins for rehabilitation.” – Laura Sheer from The Marine Mammal Center
If you have a love for dolphins or any marine mammal, I encourage you to visit The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. It is open to the public and I will be telling you A LOT more about this amazing facility next week!