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Third Beached Dolphin Found in Guiones
Dolphins Show Pattern of Neurological Disorders

By Samantha Pollock
photos by Gerardo Bolanos

Wednesday August 24, a third dolphin in 2 months was found beached and struggling in shallow waters on Guiones beach. 

The porpous, a full grown, male, striped dolphin, had been spotted at 1 pm by beach goers. Several attempts were made to return the dolphin to deeper waters in hopes that it could regain orientation. Each time the dolphin returned to the shore. 

Members of the Harmony Hotel staff and the tourist police began keeping an eye on the dolphin in the early afternoon and prevented members of the public from touching and crowding around the animal. Gerardo Bolanos, Harmony Hotel’s Sustainability Coordinator contacted MINAE, the federal Ministrerio del Ambiente y Energia (Ministry of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica) and was put in touch with a team of experts whose task it is to investigate incidences of beached dolphins.
Bolanos waited with the dolphin until it finally ceased its struggling and died at about midnight. “I was trying to keep it calm, and comfortable, it was difficult because there was nothing that I could do to help it,” said Bolanos. 


Veterinarian, Gabriella Hernandez, arrived on the scene just moments after the dolphin’s passing. Hernandez, working on behalf of the National University of Costa Rica, Medical Veterinarian’s Foundation and the Industry of Agriculture rushed to Nosara from Heredia when she received the call. 

Hernandez, accompanied by a biologist from the National University collected the dolphin in order to do a full autopsy and test the animal to figure out why it beached itself and later died. 

According to a study titled, Neurobrucellosis in Stranded Dolphins, Costa Rica, conducted by a team at the National University and spearheaded by Hernandez, ten stripe dolphins tested positive for neurological disorders. Each of the dolphins were found stranded in populated areas of the Pacific shoreline and each died within 48 hours of being found. 

Without test results the reason for the dolphin’s behavior and death cannot be confirmed. However, Hernandez told VON that based on the dolphin’s behavior and physical attributes it is likely the dolphin has a similar condition to the ten dolphins referred to in the study. 

The study describes the behavior of infected dolphins. Dolphins with the neurological disorder lose the ability to maintain buoyancy and often experience tremors and seizures. 

Bolanos, who waited with the dolphin in the hours before its death, told VON that the animal was behaving strangely. “It was evident that something was seriously wrong, he was trembling, arching his body and it looked like he was disoriented and going through a lot of pain,” said Bolanos.
The test results will be available by the middle of September. In the meantime Hernandez believes it is important for people to know what to do when they see a stranded dolphin. 

“It is best to try to return the animal to the water, but only once,” said Hernandez.  “If a dolphin returns to the shore for a second time it will continue to do so, at this point it is best that we are contacted.”

The veterinarian told VON the best way to transport a dolphin back to the water is by lifting it with a towel. As little direct contact with the animal as possible is always best. Hernandez can be contacted through 9-1-1 or directly through the university.


More Nature News

V National Shorebird Census Invite You to Learn

The fifth annual National Shorebird Census will take place next Saturday September 3rd and Nosara will be part of it. The National Ornithologists Union sponsors and organizes this activity, aimed towards monitoring the populations of this endangered group of birds in their wintering grounds. All those interested are welcome to participate and learn.

SIBU’s Dilema: Shall There be Guests?

A fifth howler monkey was spotted tangled in electric lines this week. Brenda Bombard of Nosara Wildlife Rescue spotted the monkey hanging from the lines along Route 160 where it runs through Guiones. Despite a drop in numbers thanks to the recent insulation of more than 40 kilometers of electric line in the Nosara district, monkeys sustaining injury or death by electrocution continues. For the latest victim there is little hope, after falling from the lines the injured primate crawled into thick underbrush and disappeared before Brenda could rescue it. Alas, for a lucky few a happy ending is possible. 

Guiones a Blue Flag Beach for 9 Years in a Row

Thursday August 11, Guiones beach was awarded its ninth consecutive Bandera Azul Ecológica (Ecological Blue Flag). Beachgoers and school children looked on as the flag was proudly raised beneath a clear sky, nearly as blue. The flag symbolizes the continued effort of the community to maintain a clean and ecologically friendly beach area. Neighboring beach Pelada was also awarded the same environmental recognition.


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