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article imageThe Dolphin Murders

By Susan Duclos     Jan 26, 2008 in Science
Dolphins are playful and intelligent as well as being one of the most social creatures in the sea. It is now being discovered that Dolphins are also brutal killers, killing baby porpoises as well as their own young.
Having grown up swimming with the Dolphins and witnessing their playful behavior and antics firsthand, this new evidence that has been compiled by marine scientists that shows that they are also capable of brutal attacks both on innocent fellow marine mammals and, on its own kind, is quite disturbing.
Tough new laws have been sought to protect these "Solitary-sociable" mammals, as the proponent of those laws, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, call them. Laws to protect them from being harmed.
Stronger legislation to protect "friendly" bottlenose dolphins from being "loved to death" is being urged by a leading conservation organisation.
The problem with existing measures aimed at preventing harm to or disturbance of these charismatic marine mammals is that they weren't designed to deal with problems arising from exceptional individuals going out of their way to court human attention.
Dolphin lovers have always enjoyed the entertaining view of Dolphins playing with their young but since they are closer and closer to beaches and other tourist attractions, people are starting to witness the violent behavior firsthand, which has many shocked.
Films have been taken now of gangs of dolphins repeatedly ramming baby porpoises, tossing them in the air and pursuing them to the death and in two parts of the world, along Scotland's East Coast and in America off the beaches of Virginia, it is being discovered that the victims are not just baby porpoises but these lovable mammals are killing their own babies.
The body counts in those two locations were rising,in Virginia marine biologists were finding a growing number of young, dead dolphins and in Scotland's north-east coast the bodies of young porpoises were washing up.
As the two groups of marine biologists started pooling information, they were finding that the injuries of both sets of these mammals were identical.
Their first assumption was that these baby porpoises and dolphins' had died of "blast trauma". In American cases, this was supposedly from exercises by the US Navy, and in Scotland from air guns used by oil rig technicians to detect undersea caverns.
After examining the bodies that theory was dismissed when the exact nature of the injuries was discovered, broken ribs, imploding lungs, damaged livers and massive internal bleeding, which could only be attributed to prolonged, focused attacks.
The teeth marks found were surprisingly identified as the dolphin being the culprit.
This mystified the marine biologists as to the motives of the dolphins for these killings.
These "intelligent, sensitive and sociable creatures " had just become the number one suspect in the brutal, unexplained and violent killings, which was later confirmed without a doubt by holiday tourists who happened to shoot two very shocking films.
One of those filmed was thought to originally show a dolphin fishing for salmon, but upon examination, it was found that the dolphin was brutally attacking a porpoise, its body spinning round with such force that its back was broken and its soft tissue shattered.
Members of the Scots charity the Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit found a lifeless body of a porpoise near the harbor at Whitehills, near Banff, and describe the injuries as "perhaps the worst example of inter-specific aggression any of us had ever seen. This young female had literally had the life beaten out of her." Those injuries showed showed multiple lacerations and puncture wounds all over the body which could not have been caused by any other attacker than a bottle-nosed dolphin.
An Aberdeen marina biologist Dr Ben Wilson concludes that the dolphins use their ultra sound abilities to home in on the vital organs of their victims that will cause most damage.
"The blows are carefully targeted," says Dr Wilson, who is a member of the Scottish Association for Marine Science. "And the attacks are sustained, sometimes up to 30 minutes.
"The film was a key piece of evidence. It crystalised our suspicions. We realised the dolphins' victim was trying to escape from being attacked with such force that any one single blow could kill it.
"It was, Oh my God!, the animals I've been studying for the last 10 years are killing these porpoises."
There are no shortage of theories but even the experts agree that these theories are nothing more than guesswork at this point and you can see more about this in a documentary, on January 29, 2008, appropriately called "The Dolphin Murders".(Check your local listings)
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