Rescued baby dolphin dies despite rehabilitation attempts

A young juvenile Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus) died in a rehabilitation pool in Keelung City yesterday, after being found stranded on the coast at Su’ao, on Taiwan’s north-east coast.

Coast guard officers notified Taiwan Cetacean Society at around noon on April 1 that an injured juvenile Risso’s dolphin was stranded on a beach near Su’ao Harbor. A veterinarian identified wounds suspected to be caused by a cookie-cutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis).

The dolphin was transferred to a rehabilitation center in Keelung City, where an ultrasound, and thermal imaging examination showed inflammation of the wounds. After initial treatment, the cetacean was put into a rehabilitation pool, where treatment continued with nutritional supplements, and antibiotics.

Volunteers worked around the clock in shifts, accompanying the dolphin in the 10×5 meter pool, helping it to swim.

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At first the prognosis was optimistic, with the dolphin beginning to make sounds on April 2. However, in the early hours of the morning on April 3, the injured dolphin took a turn for the worst. At around 1:30 am, its heartbeat began to slow down, and it had trouble breathing. Shortly before 2:30 am, the dolphin died.

Tsai Fu-zheng ( 蔡馥嚀 ), head of the Keelung City Government Marine and Fisheries section, thanked volunteers for their hard work. Keelung City Government pointed out that in the past, injured whales and dolphins found on the north-east coast were sent to Miaoli County, on Taiwan’s west coast for treatment and rehabilitation.

Around two years ago, the Keelung City Government provided the Taiwan Cetacean Society with a centralized location at the Badouzi Fishing Port where the rescue organization set up relevant equipment, and seawater pipelines.

This rescue attempt was the first time the new facilities were used.

Stranded, injured dolphin treated at a facility in Keelung City, Taiwan, April 1, 2020
Stranded, injured dolphin treated at a facility in Keelung City, Taiwan, April 1, 2020. Picture: Keelung City Government.
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