Scientists analyzing data for the South Carolina Dolphin Tagging Research Project recently made an important discovery about dolphin behavior. The first-ever archival-satellite-tagged dolphin, a 25-pound bull, spent a large amount of time in deep water. It dived as deep as 243 feet into water as cold as 67 degrees. While this is a significant discovery, since it's generally assumed that dolphin stay more or less near the surface, there is much research left to do. The tag was supposed to stay on the fish for 30 days, but popped off after 10. So the information accounts for only one dolphin's behavior for a short period of time. These are just the preliminary findings in what could be a revolutionary study, unfortunately, the project lost most of its funding because of cutbacks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which was the primary contributor.
Project coordinator Don Hammond is seeking private funding and hopes that sport-fishing interests and enthusiasts will come forward to offer much-needed support. Sport Fishing is doing its part by providing ongoing coverage on the research between the April 2006 and May 2007 issues. We have already published information in the April issue (see page 22) and will be printing news about the project, including updates on tagging and dolphin behavior, in future editions. Look for editorial coverage of the dolphin-tagging project in the July/August 2006, November/December 2006, February 2007 and May 2007 issues, which are currently scheduled to dedicate a full page solely to this effort.
For more information or to make a contribution, visit www.dolphintagging.com or call 843-953-9847.