Wild dolphin visits captives

A seemingly lone wild dolphin has been spotted near the Dolphin Cove facility in Morgan’s Harbour and communicating with the captive dolphins.

There were reports of the spotting of two dolphins in the North Sound Thursday morning. There was speculation that they had escaped from one of the swim-with-dolphin facilities. However, Dolphin Discovery in North West Point is an enclosed dolphin lagoon not connected to the sea and Dolphin Cove confirmed that their dolphins had not escaped.

Dolphins in captivity in Cayman

Dolphins in captivity in Cayman. Photo: Cliodhna Doherty

But the staff at Dolphin Cove is concerned for the welfare of what appears to be the solo wild dolphin that has been seen near their facility. The management there expressed an interest in rescuing it with a view to eventually releasing it to a pod in the wild.

At Dolphin Cove a wall of stones, and some fencing at one end, separates the dolphin lagoon from the rest of the ocean.

‘We’ve seen one come up several times through our bridge,’ explained Philip Admire, director of Zoological Operations with Dolphin Cove, who has worked with marine mammals for the past 20 years.

‘Our dolphins are aware of him and they have been talking to each other through the fence,’ he said.

The first time he was spotted was about six weeks ago, Mr. Admire explained.

They are concerned about him because he is on his own.

‘Dolphins are highly social. It’s obvious he wants in with ours,’ he said. ‘For him to be living alone means that something is going on.’

He explained that the dolphin may have been separated from its pod for many different reasons, such as the mammal getting injured or sick, because of a storm or because the rest of the pod was killed.

‘He’s at risk because he’s by himself,’ he said, explaining that dolphins are co-operative hunters and he may be finding it difficult to get food alone.

He’s also at risk from predators.

‘There’s safety in number in the wild,’ he said.

Mr. Admire said they would like to have a discussion with Cayman Islands Government authorities on the issue to see what feedback they might get, he said.

Mr. Admire said that he has been involved in many dolphin rescues during his career, which includes 15 years working at SeaWorld.

Some of those dolphins rescued had been shot or had plastic wrapped around them.

‘I’d love to catch him and get a blood sample to see if there is something wrong,’ he said.

If the dolphin were to have a health issue Dolphin Cove would like to help heal the mammal with the ultimate aim of finding a pod to release him into, he said.

But if the dolphin had an injury that took a long time to heal or if it needed constant care then it would be better to keep it at their facility, he said.

Director of the Department of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie said, ‘We are certainly willing to speak with Dolphin Cove at any point and they do have our contact information.’

She said they have known dolphins to occasionally hang around the islands and move on after a while so this is not all that unusual.

‘Generally, we would not want to see a wild dolphin captured, particularly as we do not believe that it would be possible to successfully reintroduce it to an existing pod. That is of course if a pod could be located reasonably nearby. There is also likely a good ecological/biological reason why this lone dolphin is here.’