If I were a dolphin, I couldn’t raise my flipper
Yesteryear, when people reached the end of their lives it was often because they lost their teeth and could no longer eat. Or, they would injure themselves, break a bone, or just have a bad sprain that would knock them off their feet for a destination of death.
Over the course of the year, we sometimes read about dolphins and whales beaching themselves. They may come ashore singularly or in a pod. What happens?
Now, researchers say that when dolphins lose their hearing, they don’t know where they are and cannot find food. They starve to death, or get lost on the beach.
When scientists tried to determine the cause, they attempted to train them to raise their flipper when they hear a sound. It was determined that many stranded dolphins can’t raise their flipper because they are deaf.
If they can’t raise their flipper, they are permitted to die. I am going to raise my flipper whether I hear anything or not, in that case.
“Researchers find that beached dolphins are often deaf
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 15, 2010; 12:42 AM
New research into the cause of dolphin "strandings" - incidents in which weakened or dead dolphins are found near shore - has shown that in some species, many stranded creatures share the same problem.
They are nearly deaf, in a world where hearing can be as valuable as sight.
That understanding - gained from a study of dolphins' brain activity - could help explain why such intelligent animals do something so seemingly dumb. Unable to use sound to find food or family members, dolphins can wind up weak and disoriented.
Researchers are unsure what is causing the hearing loss: It might be old age, birth defects or a cacophony of man-made noise in the ocean, including Navy sonar, which has been associated with some marine mammal strandings in recent years.
The news, researchers say, is a warning for those who rescue and release injured dolphins: In some cases, the animals might be going back to a world they can't hear.
"Rehab is pretty time-consuming and pretty expensive," said David Mann, a professor at the University of South Florida and the study's lead author. If the dolphin can't hear, he said, "there's almost no point in rehabbing it and releasing it."
The study, published Nov. 3 in the journal PLoS One, examined several species of marine mammals - including dolphins and small whales - in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The animals had been found stranded in the wild and taken in for medical treatment and feeding.”