According to Mike Baird of the Corpus Christie Caller
, trainers first noticed DJ acting strangely last Friday. Aquarium staff had planned to pull the 15-year-old male Atlantic bottlenose from the show for testing. But at 3 a.m. Saturday morning, DJ was discovered dead at the bottom of his tank.
Executive director of the aquarium Tom Schmid, said that although DJ had not been sick:
"He was swimming, but wasn’t eating, which can be characteristic of a tooth ache."
DJ was one of three performing dolphins at the facility. Born at the Minnesota Zoo in 1996, he went to the Aquarium in 2006 to become part of the Dolphin Bay exhibit. He is one of six male dolphins to have lived at the zoo in the past decade said Schmid.
The 400,000 gallon saltwater exhibit also houses two other Atlantic bottlenose dolphins: Shadow, and Kai. DJ and Shadow were dolphin brothers. The trio of mammals performed for the public three times per day, says the Texas State Aquarium
website. Visitors could "get up close and personal with Shadow, Kai and DJ during a Deckside Dolphin Encounter," or interact with them through the aquarium's, 'Trainer for a Day' program.
In August 2007, Cobie, another 15-year -old Atlantic bottlenose also died at the aquarium, after being diagnosed with pneumonia
and chronic iron storage disease. Cobie died one month later
on September 21 2007.
Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Tim Tristan, said that pneumonia is one of the most common causes of disease and death in dolphins. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual
, pneumonia is the leading cause of death for captive dolphins, and is often "considered the result of mismanagement."
DJ was considered a relatively young dolphin. According to NOAA Fisheries
, bottlenose dolphins in the wild have a lifespan of 40-50 years.
The dolphin shows will now be adjusted said the aquarium. Mini-training sessions were held with remaining dolphins Kai and Shadow on Saturday with regular show sessions expected to resume on Monday.