Aquarium's dolphin calf dies

cause yet to be determined

March 22, 2010|By Jessica Anderson | Baltimore Sun reporter

An 11-day-old dolphin calf born at the National Aquarium in Baltimore died Sunday morning, shortly after staff first noticed it was breathing irregularly.

The cause of death has not been determined for the 30-pound, 2- to 3-foot-long calf that was born March 10 to an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin named Jade.

A necropsy was performed at the Johns Hopkins University's comparative pathology lab by National Aquarium veterinarians and Hopkins staff. Aquarium officials were awaiting test results from cultures, which could take one to two weeks, according to a statement from the aquarium.

Jen Bloomer, media relations manager for the National Aquarium in Baltimore, said infections are common in calves but the cause of death is still unclear without the test results.

"[Calves] are generally very fragile in their first year of life," she said.

Jade's female calf was not yet named. Bloomer said the aquarium waits three months before naming calves due to the lower survival rate. The dolphin will remain at the lab until a decision is made about what to do with its remains, Bloomer said.

Even with a successful birth and an experienced mother, about one-third of dolphin calves don't survive their first year of life — either in the wild or in captivity, according to the release.

Jade's first calf survived and is now 3 years old.

Ten dolphins remain at the aquarium, including three calves, Bloomer said.

"They know that something is different," she said.

Expressions of condolence can be sent to dolphins@aqua.org.

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