Officials at the National Aquarium in Baltimore are breathing easier, now that a bottlenose dolphin calf born there last month seems to be getting stronger.
The calf, born March 26, appears to be gaining weight again after returning to a more normal nursing pattern, senior mammalogist Nedra Hecker said yesterday.
Last week, officials were concerned because the calf was losing weight and didn't appear to be getting the nourishment it needed.
"It was scary," Mrs. Hecker said.
"We're still concerned about the calf. . . . It's still at risk," she said. "But we're feeling better about it."
In recent days, mammalogists have noticed that the calf seems to be getting better milk from its mother. It also appears to be satisfied after nursing.
Before, it was nursing more often because the mother's milk was of poorer quality, Mrs. Hecker said.
She said the staff had stopped its 24-hour watch of the calf and now keeps an 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. watch.
The calf, born to a dolphin named Hailey, has been playing more and has started to shed its baby skin, which wouldn't occur if the animal were still weak, Mrs. Hecker said.
Hailey's calf was the second dolphin born at the Aquarium last month. Another calf was born March 7, to a dolphin named Shiloh, and it has fared well.
The aquarium had suspended its dolphin shows while Hailey's calf was doing poorly. Now that the 2-week-old calf is improving, the shows have resumed.