Volunteers Sherry Weinrauch, Dr. Larry Weinrauch, a Harvard cardiologist, and UH biologist Tara Clemente helped NOAA's David Nichols, right, stabilize the ill animal yesterday.

Stranded female
spinner dolphin dies

Veterinarians tried to save the
mammal found at Magic Island

By Treena Shapiro

A female spinner dolphin died yesterday morning after it stranded on the Ewa end of Magic Island.

The dolphin was still alive when a surfer discovered it at about 8 a.m. and reported it to police.

Police contacted the National Marine Fisheries Service, which sent a group of veterinarians and biologists to the scene.

After evaluating the animal's condition, they determined that it was stable enough to be moved to a rehabilitation facility at the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe.

However, on the way, the dolphin began to show signs of stress and shock and died soon thereafter, despite veterinarians' efforts to restabilize her with medicine and treatment.

Spinner dolphins are sensitive, and medical treatment in emergency situations is difficult at best, according to Margaret Akamine Dupree, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's protected-species program.

When these dolphins strand, they are already in fragile health, she said. Records show that most stranded dolphins in Hawaii die soon after beaching themselves, she noted.

Dolphin strandings are not uncommon, Dupree said.

"It's normal for us to have between 15 to 25 reported strandings a year, and sometimes they're dolphins and sometimes they're whales.

"We do have dolphins that utilize that whole area from Makua down the coast," she said. "The surfers who were out there this morning did see a group of dolphins, so it's not unusual."

The fisheries service, part of NOAA, will conduct a full necropsy, and results will be available after mainland laboratories analyze tissue samples, which will then be reviewed by the attending veterinarians and marine mammal biologists.

If a dolphin is observed to be injured or stranded, the public is asked to call the NOAA Fisheries' toll-free 24-hour hot line at 888-256-9840.

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