JACKSON, Miss. — The last of eight trained dolphins were rescued from the Mississippi Sound after spending weeks in the wild since Hurricane Katrina struck.
The dolphins who lived in captivity at the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport were swept out to sea and scientists have been concerned about their safety ever since, said Connie Barclay, spokeswoman for the National Marine Fisheries Service. The four remaining dolphins were rescued Tuesday.
“I think it’s been good news for a lot of people who have had a lot of bad news lately,” Barclay said. “We have gotten calls and letters from all over the country.”
Before the hurricane hit the coast, the dolphins were moved to a pool at the Marine Life Oceanarium that had withstood the destruction of Hurricane Camille in 1969. Katrina destroyed that pool and pulled the mammals out to sea.
“Three of the dolphins were born at the facility, and had never been in the wild, compacting our concern for their well-being,” said Moby Solangi, owner and director for the Marine Life Aquarium.
The dolphins appeared to have some large lacerations and were as much as 100 pounds underweight, said marine mammal biologist Jeff Foster, who led the rescue.
'A confusing day'
Despite the injuries, the animals are recovering well and will be quarantined until experts are sure they do not have any communicable diseases.
“They are doing great,” Foster said. “It’s been a confusing day for them for sure, but after a day they could settle down and feel at home.”
Biologists located the dolphins on Sept. 10 by performing aerial surveys. They were monitored and fed from boats and four were rescued within days, but the other four had left the area. They were located Tuesday.
The Marine Life Oceanarium features the dolphins doing jumps and other tricks in programs for tourists.
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