SciTechBlog   « Back to Blog Main
June 23, 2008

With a little BITT of luck

Posted: 11:57 AM ET

A noisy, 450 pound scared mother. A terrified three- year old, possibly in pain, not only separated from mom but now surrounded by 30 strange creatures.

But wait. This one has a happy ending.

Veterinarian Dr. Juli Goldstein (with visor) examines the young dolphin, as rescue supervisor Steve McCulloch holds up the belt that was stuck around its neck. Photo: E. Murdoch, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

After nearly 14 hours of trying, a team of scientists, veterinarians and rescue staff from Florida's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute successfully removed a car fan belt stuck around the neck of a young dolphin calf late Thursday.

The entangled male calf was first spotted June 6. From that initial sighting, Steve McCulloch, program manager for the Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Program at the Institute in Fort Pierce, started the complicated logistics of gathering boats, people, equipment, and, oh yeah, finding this poor critter again when its range covers 40% of Florida's east coast.

The rescue team found the mom and baby in the midst of about 80 other dolphins Thursday afternoon.

McCulloch said some deft boat maneuvering by Captain Larry Fulford managed to separate the mom, named BITT, and her son, known as c1BITT (BITT's first calf) from the others in the group. They were in about four feet of water in the Indian River Lagoon near Melbourne.

The rescue team had to act fast.

"Young dolphins, especially young males, can show very high stress," said McCulloch. He said they can even die from "capture shock."

First, the marine mammal experts released Mama BITT from the net.

"She was showing some definite un-Flipper-like behavior," said McCulloch.

But like a good mother she waited just a few yards away, trading encouraging whistles with her son. McCulloch cut off the hard rubber automotive belt. Veterinarian Dr. Juli Goldstein did a quick physical exam, and gathered some tissue for a DNA sample. She also put a tag on the youngster's dorsal fin so he would be easier to spot once he was freed.

"It's just a feeling of exhilaration, the entire team was just jubilant. It was a huge relief that everything had gone safely and nobody got hurt," said McCulloch.

The efforts of the team from Florida Atlantic University saved this animal from a slow, agonizing death. Like human babies, young dolphins play with whatever they can put in their mouths. Usually it's mangrove roots or tree branches. But if a fan belt or a hunk of plastic or trash is floating around them, they'll play with that, too.

"What we do to the environment is reflected in these animals. We need to be careful," said McCulloch.

So the next time you think about littering… think about whose baby you might be putting in danger.

Marsha Walton, CNN science and technology producer

Filed under: Animals • environment

Share this on:
Issac Weitnauer   June 21st, 2021 4:43 pm ET

Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a online game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs   June 24th, 2021 4:13 am ET


paint by diamonds   June 25th, 2021 3:05 am ET

650714 989414Just wanna remark which you have a very nice internet website , I like the layout it actually stands out. 710607

pharmaceptica   June 28th, 2021 4:26 pm ET

tadalafil from india reviews

replica watchez   June 29th, 2021 9:52 pm ET

67329 352482Woh I like your articles , saved to fav! . 605340

pharmaceptica   June 30th, 2021 1:49 pm ET

side effects of tadalafil

Leave Your Comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

subscribe RSS Icon
About this blog

Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

subscribe RSS Icon
Powered by VIP