Good news from Seal Cove
|THE CANADIAN PRESS|
|White-beaked Dolphins, shown on Feb. 18, finally swim free.|
No free trade, no politics, not even a tidbit on President Barak Obama's visit to Canada yesterday. But this is a national story, and a very happy one. Finally, it's freedom for at least three - and possibly more - of the white-beaked dolphins trapped in ice in Seal Harbour, Newfoundland. They had been there since the weekend, with local residents, who heard their cries and felt helpless, trying in vain to have the Canadian Coast Guard send an icebreaker. The story was carried by media around the world. Finally, Thursday, a group of townsfolk, including Brandon Banks, 16, went out in a 17-foot fibreglass boat and cleared a route to more open water, using the boat's own propeller blades. Two of the dolphins followed easily; a third had to be towed in harness with young Banks keeping the mammal's head above water with his legs. Reports on the other two have been varied, with some suggesting at least one made it to open water alone. The dolphins aren't completely out of the harbour, but it's expected the winds will soon clear most of the spring ice packs out of their way.
With bad news seeming to close in on us every day, financial shock waves, stories of human torture and abuse of animals, it's heartening to read such a good-news story. Dolphins are fascinating creatures, living in groups that range hundreds of kilometres and have sophisticated patterns of communication and tight family units. That's why it's tough to witness the burgeoning of "swim-with-dolphins" programs, with animals often captured with brutality and transported around the world. Yes, dolphins are easily trained and, with those unfortunate grins of theirs, they appear so gay as tourists ride their backs. But they are prisoners.
Richard O'Barry, the man who trained Flipper for the TV show of the same name, is a leading activist against the capture of dolphins and has his own rescue centre.
Here's a great site for checking out some of the research on dolphins.