From ANIMAL PEOPLE, August/September 1996:
Molly, the last known survivor of the traveling dolphin
shows popular in the 1960s, was on June 24 transferred by order of
the National Marine Fisheries Service from the Sugarloaf Dolphin
Sanctuary to the Dolphin Research Center, whose management has
long been critical of the Sugarloaf rehabilitation-for-release program.
NMFS suspended Sugarloaf operator Lloyd Good III’s
marine mammal exhibition license on June 7, two weeks after Good
and former Sugarloaf rehabilitation director Ric O’Barry released
the ex-Navy dolphins Buck and Luther without a permit. Buck and
Luther had been undergoing preparation for release since December
1994. A third ex-Navy dolphin, Jake, was seized on June 7 and
returned, with Luther, to the Navy dolphin program in San Diego.
Buck is also at DRC. Molly is claimed by the Key Largo-based
Marine Mammal Conservancy, formed by ex-Sugarloaf trainer Rick
Trout, who left after a November 1994 clash with O’Barry.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is watching a leak in its
three-story, 335,000-gallon kelp forest exhibit––the focus of the
facility from 1984, when it opened, until the million-gallon Outer
Bay exhibit opened this year, bringing a 60% rise in attendance.
The first half of 1996 brought 1.2 million visitors, putting the 1985
record of 2.3 million visitors in sight––if the leak doesn’t force the
kelp forest to close for repairs. Closure could dim interest in the
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, just as the drive to raise
funds with a special-issue license plate tries to regain momentum.
Five thousand California car owners must pledge to buy the plates,
depicting a sea otter, before December 31, if the plates are to be
issued. The first 1,000 pledges came quickly, but just 914 more
came \n the next seven months. The plates will cost $50 more than
normal registration for the first year, and $40 more per renewal.
The Mashantucket Pequot tribe, owners of the Foxwoods
Resort Casino near Ledyard, Connecticut, on June 21
pledged $5 million to help the Mystic Marinelife Aquarium expand
its beluga whale exhibit––part of a $45 million upgrade, also to
include forming a deep sea exploration institute under oceanographer
Robert Ballard, who located the wreck of the Titanic. An early
institute project is to be exploring submerged sites off North
Stonington that may include remnants of Pequot fishing camps.
Work has begun on the first full-time center in the U.S.
for saving marine life hurt by oil spills. The Oiled Wildlife
Veterinary Care and Research Center, to be staffed by the
University of California at Santa Cruz and the California
Department of Fish and Game, is a project of the California Office
of Oil Spill Prevention and Respone, created by state law in 1990.
The center is situated to quickly respond to any oil spill in the limited
habitat of the endangered California sea otter.
Ethyl, age 13, the Houston’s Zoo’s epileptic sea lion,
drowned during a June 26 seizure. Rescued from the wild by Sea
World San Diego in 1986, Ethyl came to Houston with five other
sea lions in 1989. She immediately became useful in educating
school children about epilepsy.
Hondo, Big Frank, and Bob on July 4 made their public
debut at Sea World Orlando. The trio were among five California
sea lions who were to be shot by fisheries officials for eating endangered
steelhead trout at Ballard Locks, near Seattle, but were
reprieved when Sea World offered to take them. Captured one by
one between May 6 and May 24, they were temporarily held at the
Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma prior to relocation to the two-acre
Sea World exhibit. The other two sea lions haven’t been seen lately.
Sea World San Diego’s orca petting pool, Shamu
Backstage, has drawn both bigger crowds and more protesters since
opening on May 27. San Diego Animal Advocates and other activist
groups contend the orcas should be freed.
Keiko, the orca star of the Free Willy films, now at the
Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, reportedly divides his time
between watching visitors and watching videos on a special big
screen. The facility was designed to minimize human contact, to
prepare him for possible return to the wild, but due to an apparently
incurable chronic skin disease, lack of information about his pod of
origin somewhere in Icelandic waters, and the refusal of Iceland to
cooperate with a release attempt, he is likely to remain in Newport.
Jenkinson’s Aquarium, at Point Pleasant Beach, New
Jersey, is building isolation tanks for fish embryos, in hopes of
achieving successful hatchings. The aquarium exhibits 520 animals
of 150 species, also including reptiles, seals, and penguins, but
since it opened in 1991, only the penguins have bred successfully.
Two of the three bottlenose dolphins born in May a t
Marine World Africa USA, in Vallejo, California, died soon after
birth. None were born there in 1995. Two of four born in 1994 survived.
The record echoes wild mortality.
The Japanese-owned Kajima International Corpora
t i o n has reportedly approached Hawaii governor Ben Cayetano
about building an aquarium on state land in Kakaao. The aquarium
might compete with the University of Hawaii’s Waikiki Aquarium,
on Diamond Head, and with a swim-through aquarium planned by
the Hilton Hawaiian Village, also to be built on state land. Kajima,
owner of the Four Seasons Hotel on Big Island, is now building the
Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.