Rescued Hurricane Katrina Dolphins Give Birth to First Calves Since the Storm
PARADISE ISLAND, The Bahamas - The first offspring from the famed rescued “Katrina Dolphins” were born at Dolphin Cay, the new dolphin interaction and education center at Atlantis, Paradise Island resort in The Bahamas.
The first was born to 32-year-old Kelly on April 4, 2007. A second calf, was born on April 6, 2007 to 21-year-old Michelle. The two moms, who were together in a special maternity pool within the habitat at the time of both births, have spent the first days nurturing and bonding with the newest members of the Dolphin Cay family.
The calves are being monitored 24 hours a day by our marine mammal specialists to ensure they are healthy and developing on schedule,” said Frank Murru, Chief Marine Officer, Kerzner International. “These births are the first successful ones for Dolphin Cay from the rescued ‘Katrina Dolphins’ that are expecting offspring, a true testament to the full recovery and acclimation of these miraculous animals.”
Kelly, Michelle and 14 of their fellow Dolphin Cay residents, were stranded or swept to sea when their former home at the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, Mississippi, was destroyed during the infamous Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. After being rescued and nursed back to health, all of the dolphins were eventually transported to Atlantis to fully recover and reside in the new state-of-the-art habitat.
In addition to the interactive coves, the facility will serve as the only live marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation center in The Bahamas. On March 27, 2007, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced that Atlantis was granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission. To be accredited, Atlantis underwent thorough investigation to ensure it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which include animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. Atlantis, Dolphin Cay was also recently accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.
All of the Dolphin Cay residents live in eleven interconnected pools containing nearly seven million gallons of crystal-clear seawater, and are cared for night and day by a team of over 55 marine mammal specialists.
“We are proud to say our facility is one of the largest man made dolphin habitats in the world,” said Teri Corbett, Vice President of Marine Mammal Operations. “This along with our state of the art quarantine facility allows us the proper space to safely care for beached or stranded animals and pregnant or nursing mothers.”
The residents of Dolphin Cay are all Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, who breathe air out of a blowhole located on the top of their head. The average gestation period for a Bottlenose Dolphin is 12 months. At the end of this period, they give birth to live young, called calves. The calf, born with sparse hair on its rostrum, is a mammal and will nurse from its mother for 12-18 months. The calf will begin to eat fish at 4-5 months of age. At birth, the average Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin is three feet long and weighs about 40 pounds.
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