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TWO WEEKS AFTER two spotted dolphins were guided away from the shallow waters off the West Coast, they have not been seen since.
And that, said fisheries consultant and marine biologist Nikola Simpson, is a good thing. It meant, she added, that the two had possibly been reunited with their pod.
Simpson was speaking to Heather-Lynn’s Habitat in the wake of the near stranding of the two juveniles earlier this month at Mullins Beach, St Peter.
It was an uncommon event that brought out officials from the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, the Barbados Sea Turtle Project and the Coast Guard, who attempted to save the dolphins. The event also drew curious locals and visitors who were on the beach.
“When they got there, the two juvenile spotted dolphins were in very shallow water,” Simpson said, as she explained that dolphins stranded as a result of sickness, injury or because they were disoriented or entangled in nets or fishing lines.
“In this case they were both injured. We’re not quite sure whether it was from another mammal or propeller, but it looks like it was maybe a shark. It could even have been from another dolphin, so they would have come in close to try to beach themselves.”
But while dolphins – both spotted and bottlenose (Flipper) – as well as whales were common to the island’s waters, strandings were not.
“Something like it happens every two years in Barbados. It has happened on the West Coast before but it more commonly happens on the Browne’s Beach/Carlisle Bay area,” said Simpson.
“We haven’t had any strandings in Barbados, for this year. But last year we had a sperm whale that stranded on the East Coast.
“So it’s not a common thing but it’s still something that happens. Ideally, I want people to know about it, why it happens and ideally what to do when it does happen,” she said.
Simpson has cautioned swimmers and beachgoers not to swim with the injured dolphins because “they can get even more disoriented and when they are in a state like that, it could be dangerous because they are very strong animals. They could flick their tails and hit someone”.
She also advised people not to pull the dolphins’ tails, which would damage the spine, or face the blow holes because the mammals could be sick.