• They have a lot more to teach us.

    We've learned a lot with your help. But there's still so much we need to know to protect our wild dolphin neighbors.

    Give to dolphin research at the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

  • Sea Turtel sick and injured from fishing line

    You can stop this.

    Protecting marine wildlife is within your reach.

    When you give to put monofilament recycling bins within reach of conscientious boaters and anglers.

  • Harbor seal in need

    Save lives, reduce suffering, learn more.

    It's a win, win, win – when you support our Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

    Please give generously to the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

  • Cetacean Studies

    Inspire curiosity.

    What does it take to get students interested in science and conservation? Your help.

    Please give generously to support Cetacean Studies and the Bonehenge rearticulation project.

North Carolina Whales & Whaling Symposium April 9, 2016

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Cetacean Studies, Conservation, Marine Mammal Stranding Network, monofilament recycling

Mnfluke copy

This day-long event will include several presentations focusing on whales and historic hunting practices. Participants will learn about species of whales that can be found in our coastal waters, how some of these whales were hunted from the shore and research involved with stranded animals. The program includes: 10 a.m. Whales of North Carolina (Natural Science Curator Keith Rittmaster) 11 a.m. Native American Whaling and Porpoise Hunting (Education Curator John Hairr) 1 p.m. The History of Whaling in North Carolina (Associate Curator Benjamin Wunderly) 2 p.m. Legendary Cetaceans (Historic Interpreter Christine Brin) 3 p.m. NC Marine Mammal Stranding Response (Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator Dr. Vicky Thayer) No advance registration. Walk-ins welcome. . North Carolina Maritime Museum, 315 Front Street, Beaufort. www.ncmaritimemuseums.com.

A young bottlenose dolphin dead with multiple entanglements

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Marine Mammal Stranding Network, monofilament recycling

            On October 7th, 2011, Kat Fourhman of the NC Aquarium at Roanoke Island responded to a stranding of a dead bottlenose dolphin on the shore of Roanoke Sound near Manteo, NC.  Paul Doshkov of Cape Hatteras National Seashore assisted with the investigation.  It was a 175cm (5’ 9”) male.  At that size he would have been around 2 years old, still nursing, growing fast.  Monofilament line from 2 different types of gill nets surrounded the rostrum and left pectoral fin. 

UPDATES

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Bonehenge; Cetacean rearticulation, monofilament recycling

Not as exciting as Baja and whales, but here are the Cape Lookout Studies updates this month.

Bonehenge.
The skull is still in the jacuzzi releasing grease – this whale had an amazing amount of grease. Two huge limbs from the oak tree just above the jacuzzi almost smashed the skull in a snow storm. Pierre-Henry Fontaine from Quebec visited Bonehenge (and our sperm whale) and offered sage advice. Starting with the tail, we’ve begun fabricating intervertebral discs, and we’re drilling through vertebrae and mounting them on 3/8″ stainless allthread. Dominic Brown, from Channel 12,ran a news story about Bonehenge, which portrayed his, and our, excitement about this project.

Central NC Marine Mammal Strandings.
At the annual NC Marine Mammal Stranding Network Conference in February, Keith requested an entire adult right whale skeleton should one happen to come ashore at a convenient location and time. Keith also agreed to develop a form to be used by anyone for formally requesting specimens, data, samples, photos, analysis etc. from stranded marine mammals in NC.
Vicky Thayer will present North Carolina delphinid stranding diversity from 1992-2009 at the SEAMAMMS Conference March 26-28 in Virginia Beach.

Our web sites and blog, have been wonderfully busy.

Bottlenose dolphin photo ID
Even with really tough weather conditions, we got out 5 days, had 11 sightings and have dorsal fin photos of 85 dolphins. We continue to see Manteo and Virginia Beach dolphins plus a few freeze brands.

The ‘Protect Wild Dolphin’ License Plate quarterly check was $3,180.This money really helps support our research. If you live in NC, please consider joining our group of dolphin plate people.
Click here for license plate information.

NC Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program
Two little used bins were removed from Emerald Isle beaches. One new outdoor bin went to Sarah Falkowski of Outer banks Center for Wildlife Education for use in Currituck County. One outdoor bin and one indoor box went to Allen Fitz of Network for Endangered Sea Turtles for use in Dare County.

July Public Interaction

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in monofilament recycling

This writer has been traveling and nursing the flu, so after no posts for a month, there is a lot to post.
July Public Interaction

George Olson of NPR/PRE aired an interview with Keith about the Bonehenge Sperm Whale Skeleton project. It was good and here is the link

Keith was interviewed and quoted in the July ’09 Outside magazine in their featured article on Dolphin 56 – the ‘Beggar’.

Keith gave three presentations at the NC Maritime Museum about Bonehenge.org. and three about NC Dolphins. He also gave six tours of the Bonehenge Barn where we keep and work on the the Sperm Whale bones.

The portable monofilament recycling container spent two days at a fishing tournament on Atlanta Beach, NC in the main tent where everyone gathered. This shot was taken
just before they gathered.
photos by Brooks

Entangled dolphin calf dies during rescue attempt.

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Marine Mammal Stranding Network, monofilament recycling

UPDATED: See update at bottom of page

Entangled Dolphin Calf Dies During Rescue Attempt

by Keith Rittmaster,
Natural Science Curator
NC Maritime Museum
Jan. 13, 2005

On Tuesday, January 11th. off our NC Maritime Museum docks in Gallants Channel we saw a familiar dolphin named “Yang” (#1185). She has a very distinct dorsal fin and we have had her in our photo-ID catalog since 1992. We know she is a female because we have seen her before with a young calf. In fact, in October ´04 we photographed her with a young calf, one that was probably born around May, ´04. On Tuesday she was also with her young calf but this time her calf appeared to be entangled in fishing line, struggling at the surface for every breath, and unable to extend its body to swim properly. It was just Yang and her calf. No other dolphins were nearby.

We contacted some of our local colleagues (Vicky Thayer at Duke, Aleta Hohn and Gretchen Lovewell at NOAA/NMFS, and others) who came out on a boat with us to have a look and help evaluate the condition of the calf. Since we were observing what appeared to be a life-threatening human-induced injury, we began to pull together a group of local professional colleagues and volunteers to attempt a rescue coordinated and led by Aleta. On the morning of January 13th. 20+ people from 6 local institutions on very short notice in 6 boats set out with the goal of trying to safely locate, capture, disentangle, and release the calf. Within an hour of leaving the dock in light rain, we found (thanks to Janet Frye on her boat “Daydream”) Yang and her calf. The tide was high but they were near a sandbar so Blake Price, Dave Skinner, and Kevin Brown of the NC Dept. of Marine Fisheries deployed a large-mesh seine net and captured Yang and her calf on the first attempt. While restraining the 2 dolphins next to each other, we soon realized that the calf was horribly injured as a result of entanglement in a jumble of monofilament fishing line stretching from his mouth to his tail. Craig Harms, the attendant veterinarian from NCSU/CMAST, was considering euthanasia when the baby died in our arms in front of his mother, “Yang”. We released the mother.

The necropsy revealed that the fishing line had cut both sides of the mouth down into the bones (mandibles) and cut deeply near the tail almost to the spine. The outcome, although disappointing because we were unable to save the calf, left us with the rewarding feeling that we did the best we could have and forged relationships that are likely to be helpful in the future. It will be interesting to see if/when Yang joins up with other dolphins and gives birth again. If we had gotten to the baby sooner perhaps we could have saved him. We’re all feeling pretty deflated right now. We hope that those who read this will help educate others about the negative impacts of litter, particularly of discarded monofilament fishing line, on marine wildlife. Thanks for everyone’s support and help, especially the following people who assisted with the preparation and rescue attempt:

Aleta Hohn David Brown Nate Bacheler
Allen Brooks Emma Jugovich Patti Haase
Annie Gorgone Gretchen Lovewell Paul Rudershausen
April Goodman Janet Frye Rachel LoPiccolo
Ari Friedlander John Russell Tom Ninke
Blake Price Kevin Brown Vicky Thayer
Craig Harms Keith Rittmaster
Dave Skinner Nan Bowles

For more information please visit capelookoutstudies.org or e-mail krittmaster@ec.rr.com.

Click photo for large uncompressed version of photo.

Yang with Calf

Yang with entangled Calf

Entangled Calf

Entangled Calf

Yang’s (#1185) Sighting History
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
29-96,E 15-96,E 23-02,OC 11-02,OC 27-95,E 12-97,E 9-97,E 25-94,E
6-99,E 22-96,OC 7-98,E 19-97,OC
22-04,OC 25-96,OC 11-99,OC 19-98,E
8-02,OC 9-03,OC 19-99,E
19-02,E 25-04,E 14-02,OC
22-02,OC
25-02,OC
The entries under the month column headings indicate the day and year for which we have photos of “Yang” (ie., 29-96 under January means January 29, 1996), and general location (E=estuary, OC=ocean).

UPDATE: We’ve decided to name Yang’s calf “Yaholo” which is Seminole for “One who yells”. We’ve added a slide show from the pictures of Yang and Yaholo to the fishing line (monofilament) recycling project page. That page is dedicated to Yaholo – we hope that he will continue to “yell” through this page so that everyone learns how monofilament recycling can help protect wild dolphins.