from feastofsoul13 – 04/30/2006′
400 Dolphins Wash Up
Dead Off African Coast
By Ali Sultan
ZANZIBAR, Tanzania (AP) — Scientists worked Saturday to try to
determine why hundreds of dolphins became stranded in shallow waters and
later washed up dead along the shore of a popular tourist destination on
Zanzibar’s northern coast.
Villagers and fishermen buried the remains of about 400 bottleneck
dolphins which live in deep offshore waters – whose carcasses washed up Friday
along a 2.5-mile stretch between Kendwa and Nungwi.
Scientists suspect the animals were disturbed and stressed by some
unknown factor or were poisoned before they died, said Narriman Jiddawi,
a marine biologist at the Institute of Marine Science of the University
of Dar es Salaam. A preliminary examination of their stomach contents
failed to show the presence of squid beaks and otoliths – the ear stones
that are found directly behind the brain of bony fishes that are eaten
by dolphins, Jiddawi said. This indicates that the dolphins had either
not eaten for a long time or had vomited very severely, she said.
Their general condition, however, appears to show that they had eaten
recently since their ribs were not clearly visible under the skin.
Experts were preparing to further examine the dolphins’ stomachs for
traces of residue poison, including from the toxic "red tides" of algae.
Experts also planned to examine the dolphins’ heads to assess whether
they had been affected by military sonar.
In the United States, experts were investigating the possibility that
sonar from U.S. submarines could have been responsible for a similar
incident in Marathon, Florida, where 68 deep-water dolphins stranded
themselves in March 2005.
A U.S. Navy task force patrols the coast of East Africa as part of
counterterrorism operations. A Navy official was not immediately
available for comment, but the service rarely comments on the location
of submarines at sea. Zazinbar’s resorts attract many visitors who come
to watch and swim with wild dolphins.
The Indo-Pacific bottlenose, humpback and spinner porpoises, commonly
known as dolphins, are the most common species in Zanzibar’s coastal
waters, with bottlenose and humpback dolphins often found in
mixed-species groups. The most conclusive link between the use of
military sonar and injury to marine mammals was observed from the
stranding of beached whales in 2000 in the Bahamas. The U.S. Navy later
acknowledged that sonar likely contributed to the stranding of the
extremely shy species.
"These animals must have been disoriented and ended up in shallow
waters, where they died," fisherman Abdallah Haji, 43, said as he helped
bury the dolphins near the bloodied beach.
Residents had cut open their bellies to take the animals’ livers, which
they use to make waterproofing material for boats.
"We have never seen this type of dolphins in our area," said the man,
who has fished in Zanzibar waters for more than two decades. Copyright
2006 The Associated Press.