According to a report from Wuhan News.com, the eight-year-old female bottlenose suffered a torn dorsal fin because of "internal strife" with other dolphins. The wound then became infected prompting further measures. So the park brought in Japanese experts to perform surgery – essentially a dorsal fin amputation.
A Dalian News
report suggests the injured dolphin is one of six dolphins imported from Japan by Dalian Laohutan Ocean Park in November 2008. The park readily admitted to sending "dolphin tamers" to Japan in preparation to receive the mammals. After their arrival in China, the performing mammals were incorporated into the park's Polar Region Marine Animals World acrobatic show.
On March 16, Japanese experts successfully cut off the infected parts of the dolphin's fin said Free Paper.com
. A surgery experts heralded a success:
"To ease the dolphins tension and pain, the breeder stroked the body of the dolphin, simply asked to speak, to appease it, reduce the fear. Japanese experts specialized surgical instruments decisively cut off part dolphins infection, rapidly to the wound to stop bleeding."
The dolphin, said the park, is expected to recover in about a month.
So how do we know this is a Taiji dolphin? Based on the following reports it's highly probable.
In 2007, 77 bottlenose dolphins were live captured during the drive hunts in Wakayama (Taiji), said Ceta-Base.com
, an online database which tracks dolphins captured in Taiji. One year on, (the same year that Dalian Ocean Park imported the six dolphins from Japan), a further 57 bottlenose dolphins were additionally captured in the cove for display purposes.
Elsa Nature Conservancy also reported
that in 2008, 27 animals went to China from Japan at a cost of 153, 286 (1,000 Yen).
Two of these were bottlenose dolphins that came from Taiji Whale Museum (TWM) along with 3 Pacific white-sided dolphins, one false killer whale and one Risso’s dolphin. "The species of the rest of the dolphins are not clear," said Elsa, but "they seem to have been exported from other places including private dolphin retailers in Taiji."
Elsa also noted:
"The drive hunt is carried out only in Taiji at present. The drive hunt in Futo has not been carried out since 2005. Therefore, most of the dolphins would be exported from Taiji – possibly from Dolphin Base, World Dolphin Resort, or Isana Union in the Taiji Fishery Cooperative. In recent years [...] the World Dolphin Resort was very active in dolphin trading business."
Furthermore, a new Ceta-Base report: "Tracking Taiji: Live Capture & Export Data from Drive Fisheries
," confirms Dalian Laohutan Ocean Park took delivery of 4 bottlenose and 2 Pacific white-sided dolphins on Nov. 27, 2008, all of which were wild caught. Ceta-Base also said Ocean park imported a further seven females in Oct. 2010; four dolphins in Nov. 2010
, and another eight dolphins
on 27 Dec. 2010.
That's 19 dolphins. Why so many?
Wild caught dolphins in Taiji are captured in the cove, the same cove featured in the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary
of the same name. Japan runs a virtual production line for the training and selling of dolphins.
Hardy Jones of BlueVoice.org
showed how these dolphins are sorted into sea pens according to their final destination. The mammals are then trained and shipped to other countries said Jones, in his newly re-released documentary When Dolphins Cry
Dolphin incidents and accidents are far more common than one might think. Just last January, another suspected Taiji dolphin named Jiang Bo at the Jiangsu Province aquarium in Nanjing China, was forced to endure multiple attempts to remove a ball from his stomach
after he ingested it.
After burning a small hole into the ball so it could be retrieved by a hook, a rope was tied to it, which subsequently broke. Finally, with the aid of medical steel wire, the foreign object was removed in a three-hour-long operation that was expected to last just 30 minutes.
Poor Jiang Bo was awake throughout, as was the 8-year-old female dolphin at Dalian Laohutan Ocean Park forced to endure a dorsal fin amputation. Unlike humans, dolphins cannot involuntarily breathe. They are conscious breathers, meaning they need to be awake in order to take a breath.
Although marine mammal care has advanced, "veterinary care for cetaceans is still relatively primitive" said Humane Society International (HSI) in the 2008 report, "The Case Against Marine Mammal Captivity
." Anesthesia for whales and dolphins is possible HSI added, but it "is extremely risky" and only used "as a last resort."
Dolphins in captivity do clash be it accidental or otherwise. In 2008, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), reported the death of Sharky
, a 30-year-old female bottlenose who collided mid-air with another dolphin while leaping out of the water during a show at Discovery Cove, in Orlando, Florida. Sharky succumbed to a head injury and died shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile, in 1989, a clash between two SeaWorld killer whales resulted in the death of one of them. Tim Zimmermann's Sep. 2010 article, "Do Orcas At Marine Parks Injure One Another?" offers a witness' description of the event, which occurred between two orcas called Kandu and Corky:
"Kandu suddenly rushed into the show pool and rammed into Corky with her mouth being open. Corky was fine after the attack, but Kandu broke her jaw and started bleeding soon after. She immediately swam back to the back pool, where she died from severe blood loss."
Zimmermann's article, which includes a terrible, heartbreaking image of Kandu bleeding to death, can be seen at Tim Zimmerman.com
Many researchers agree that dolphins are extremely social creatures with complex social systems and hierarchies. Just like people, squabbles can occur, particularly when cramped conditions leave dolphins no escape. The 8-year-old bottlenose in China is one more testament to the complications surrounding marine mammal captivity: it forces confrontations completely avoidable in the open ocean.