Leaping dolphins collide; one dies

/ Source: The Associated Press

A dolphin died over the weekend at a SeaWorld sister park after colliding with another dolphin during a guest interaction program.

About 32 visitors were in the lagoon Saturday afternoon when the two dolphins swam into the deeper center and leapt from the water, Discovery Cove spokeswoman Becca Bides said Monday.

They collided and Sharky, a 30-year-old dolphin, died, she said. The other dolphin appears to be uninjured but is being monitored.

"This is a very unfortunate and very rare incident," Bides said.

It was the first accidental death of a dolphin since the park opened eight years ago. Located across from SeaWorld, Discovery Cove offers visitors the opportunity to swim with dolphins, rays and tropical fish.

Guests were gathered along the perimeter about 50 feet away in hip-deep water when the dolphins collided in the center, which is about 9 feet deep, Bides said.

A necropsy was performed on Sunday, and an exact cause of death was not immediately known.

Park officials were reviewing their dolphin training protocol "to ensure that even such a random incident like this can't occur again," Bides said.