- ZANZIBAR, Tanzania (AP) -- Scientists worked Saturday to try to determine
why hundreds of dolphins became stranded in shallow waters and later washed
up dead along the shore of a popular tourist destination on Zanzibar's
- Villagers and fishermen buried the remains
of about 400 bottleneck dolphins - which live in deep offshore waters -
whose carcasses washed up Friday along a 2.5-mile stretch between Kendwa
- Scientists suspect the animals were disturbed
and stressed by some unknown factor or were poisoned before they died,
said Narriman Jiddawi, a marine biologist at the Institute of Marine Science
of the University of Dar es Salaam.
- A preliminary examination of their stomach
contents failed to show the presence of squid beaks and otoliths - the
ear stones that are found directly behind the brain of bony fishes that
are eaten by dolphins, Jiddawi said.
- This indicates that the dolphins had
either not eaten for a long time or had vomited very severely, she said.
- Their general condition, however, appears
to show that they had eaten recently since their ribs were not clearly
visible under the skin.
- Experts were preparing to further examine
the dolphins' stomachs for traces of residue poison, including from the
toxic "red tides" of algae.
- Experts also planned to examine the dolphins'
heads to assess whether they had been affected by military sonar.
- In the United States, experts were investigating
the possibility that sonar from U.S. submarines could have been responsible
for a similar incident in Marathon, Florida, where 68 deep-water dolphins
stranded themselves in March 2005.
- A U.S. Navy task force patrols the coast
of East Africa as part of counterterrorism operations. A Navy official
was not immediately available for comment, but the service rarely comments
on the location of submarines at sea.
- Zazinbar's resorts attract many visitors
who come to watch and swim with wild dolphins.
- The Indo-Pacific bottlenose, humpback
and spinner porpoises, commonly known as dolphins, are the most common
species in Zanzibar's coastal waters, with bottlenose and humpback dolphins
often found in mixed-species groups.
- The most conclusive link between the
use of military sonar and injury to marine mammals was observed from the
stranding of beached whales in 2000 in the Bahamas. The U.S. Navy later
acknowledged that sonar likely contributed to the stranding of the extremely
- "These animals must have been disoriented
and ended up in shallow waters, where they died," fisherman Abdallah
Haji, 43, said as he helped bury the dolphins near the bloodied beach.
- Residents had cut open their bellies
to take the animals' livers, which they use to make waterproofing material
- "We have never seen this type of
dolphins in our area," said the man, who has fished in Zanzibar waters
for more than two decades.
- Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.